Review by Officer Nice: Is Nightwish ‘hot’ again? I noticed they will play in one of the biggest venues in my country soon and front woman Floor Jansen amazed the world with an excellent cover of “Phantom Of The Opera”, in a duet with Opera singer Henk Poort. It was meant for a television show in our Lowlands. She amazed lots of people who are ignorant about Metal and I need to say it was indeed a very strong performance. It is such a fantastic song and Floor Jansen can make it even more beautiful. But, to me, the version of Nightwish, with Tarja Turunen, is still better. Actually, since Tarja Turunen left Nightwish I lost my interest in the band and it didn’t actually came back, no matter how good Floor Jansen is. In general the success of this kind of Gothic Metal waned somewhat after the magical era of Nightwish but I’m experienced enough to know a revival will happen with this entire genre.

Maybe Astralium will be the band who will start this revitalization. These musicians are heading from Italy and their debut album really surprised me. I don’t think any other band came as close to Nightwish as this one. It seems there’s a gifted song writer in this formation because musical wise I hear a lot of things that reminds me to the Nightwish releases ‘Century child” and “Once”. No, this isn’t some kind of cover band nor a cheap clone… I even dare to say also Symphony X was a source of inspiration.

Astralium sounds really heavy and the guitar parts, the riffing and leads are taking an important place in this album. On the other side there are astonishing calm parts, with breathtaking vocal performances and piano parts that gives me goose bumps. Astralium has no ‘Poppy’ sound, this is Metal with the big ‘M’. The arrangements might after all influenced by Nightwish but if we should count how many bands are inspired by Iron Maiden or Metallica I could fill pages. So, I don’t actually care about that issue because I hear strong compositions and a band that is able to get me into the right mood. I feel it working on my stomach, I feel butterflies…

The band is fronted by a nice looking lady that listens to the name of Roberta. Miss Pappalardo is gifted with an incredible angelic and eclectic voice and she leads this band perfectly. This kind of baroque, bombastic and theatric music demands such a beautiful voice! Actually this lady is in the first place a Rock singer and that doesn’t hurt the band for a slice of a second. The combination of her schooled Soprano vocals and the Rock timbre really works, as it works with the best singers in the genre… talking about Tarja, Floor, Sharon. Yes, this Red headed lady deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence!

It doesn’t need a trained ear to hear there are amazing musicians on board here. I like the bass lines and the drums are really amazing, technical played and very varied. The guitar sound is perfect, the riffs are strong and the leads stunning intense. Each instrument seems to deserve its place right here and because of the heavy parts this band invites the listeners to bang their heads. The production is very strong and each instrument plays its role. There are multiple guest musicians at work here and all guest singers really did a great job, what makes it even more enjoyable to listen to this album.

I should advice the band to work on their next front cover but for the rest I think this formation has chosen the right path to become successful. If Gothic Metal will know a revival Astralium could become an important or even leading player. This kind of Epic Metal sounds fantastic and I’m impressed by this release. I don’t feel the need to make a review about another album right now, Astralium is perfect to me and this one will stay in my CD-player for a while. This release will help me to get over the dark days of Winter. “Land Of Eternal Dreams” might end very high in my year list. Chcek

My rating: 92/100 (Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan)