St. Aria‘s main concentration is to record rock ballads. That’s what St. Aria composer/pianist Alexander Platon told me when giving me their recent EP August 21 for review. Naturally I was intrigued by the claim as I wanted to see how an EP of all rock ballads could keep me entertained. I love a good rock ballad as much as the next guy – if you’ve read past reviews I tend to always have a soft spot for a good ballad – but a full five songs? It made me wonder.
August 21‘s first rock ballad is Black Rose. This dark sounding song is not what I expected. I guess I thought at first that by all rock ballads, St. Aria meant they made all sweet and tender love songs. Silly me I think that’s where my mind goes when I hear the word ballad. Black Rose may be tender and soft but it is not a love song. It is reminiscent of alternative rock like Evanescence, with two vocalists: a female (Jacqueline Hansson) and a male (Jimmy Ferhm). Both singers play off of each other well and turn Black Rose into a nice duet.
St. Aria‘s style of ballads remains to be that dark sound. Deception concentrates more on the vocal aspect and strips away most of the other instruments (except piano) to shed light on Jimmy’s singing and Jacqueline’s harmonies. Here With Me is the most intense song to this point on August 21. It has the hardest pounding drums and the vocals are louder than they’ve been on the EP so far.
Hopeless Case is the most different song on August 21. It’s the most guitar centred song on the album as well as being the most upbeat song. There’s a happy sounding acoustic guitar riff that serves as the backbone to the entire song and the vocals (once again shared by both Jimmy and Jacqueline) are easy to sing along with making this my personal favourite song St. Aria has on August 21.
August 21‘s last song is another dark ballad. New Dawn has that St. Aria sound very present, similar to songs like opening track Black Rose. The main highlight of this song is that it’s Jacqueline Hansson’s moment to shine as it’s the only song that features her as the primary vocalist while Jimmy Ferhm harmonizes.
I was expecting something unique with St. Aria and I’m pleased to say that expectation was met. I’m not sure if August 21 is for everybody, because the songs to follow a very similar path with the differenced mainly lying in the amount of instruments being played in each song. However, St. Aria make the most of their song writing and performing ability. Also, with a song like Hopeless Case, which sounds different from anything else from the EP, it makes me interested to see just what more music from St. Aria would sound like, leaving me interested for more.
“Here With Me” – Part of the reason Here With Me is the highlight is because it’s the only video/song sample I can provide from August 21, but frankly any of the many dark ballads heard will make for a good highlight of the EP and St. Aria‘s sound. Here With Me is no exception, but it is admittedly one of the better choices that I could recommend.
7.5 (Out of 10)
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