Xandria -Theater Of Dimensions – Review

Author: Craig Matthews

Veteran Symphonic Metal outfit XANDRIA are back with their long awaited seventh full length album “Theater of Dimensions”. This is the second full length album to be released with vocalist Dianne Van Giersbergen who joined the band in 2013 and seems to have stabilised the bands fluctuating line up.

XANDRIA are the textbook definition of Symphonic Metal, incorporating grand orchestral elements, epic guitar riffs and Giersbergens soaring soprano voice. It’s a tried and tested formula for this genre, unfortunately they find themselves butting heads with titans like NIGHTWISH and EPICA. Fortunately they are more than up to the challenge and “Theater Of Dimensions” is their rallying cry.

They throw us straight into it with opening track “Where The Heart Is Home”  It’s “Symphonic Metal 101” with little in the way of experimentation but it’s been done so well that the lack of variation really doesn’t matter. The guitar riffs are thunderous and the orchestral section just adds a feeling of epic grandeur, with Giersbergen’s vocals finishing it off perfectly, I’m hoping that this is just a taste and the album gets better and better.

Thankfully it does, XANDRIA build on this successful formula and add some great twists, like the furious paced “Call to arms”. This has a thundering riff with some brilliant guitar solos and one of the catchiest chorus’s I’ve heard in a long time, it also shows the emphasis that XANDRIA put on guitar work in their songs. They don’t just relay on lavish orchestral sections and the power of the vocalists voice, it’s a refreshing change for the genre. I’ve also got to mention “We Are Muderer’s” and the way XANDRIA mixed it up by adding unclean growls into the vocal mix, its innovations like that that keep the genre from stagnating.

I’m not normally a fan of instrumentals on albums but “Céilí” has changed my mind. This three minute long track is a mash up of folk, melodic and symphonic elements with some finger shredding guitar work thrown in for good measure. It breaks the album up well and signifies a shift in the pace of the record and just generally bloody good fun to listen to.

XANDRIA slow things down for the last half of the album with the sombre “Song For Sorrow And Woe”. It seems to me that all the creativity was in the first half of the album, as the band is starting to return to the “Standard Symphonic Metal” formula. It’s still good music, but after some of their earlier songs it feels a little lacklustre.

It’s a shame their flair for innovation doesn’t cover every track on the album, and while every song is well produced and carries all the right elements. They just don’t jump out from the album and I find myself starting to lose interest. But overall this has been a great album, XANDRIA have really gotten themselves together and produced some great music. Dianne Van Giersbergen has proved to be an excellent fit for the band. XANDRIA have proven that they have what it takes to take on the big guns and I can’t to hear what they do next.

Rating 4/5

Track list
1.Where The Heart Is Home
2.Death To The Holy
3.Forsaken Love
4.Call OF Destiny
5.We Are Murderers (We All)
6.Dark Night Of The Soul
7.When The Walls Came Down (Heartache Was Born)
8.Ship Of Doom
10.Song For Sorrow And Woe
11.Burn Me
12.Queen Of Hearts Reborn
13.A Theater Of Dimensions

Band Members
Vocals: Dianne van Giersbergen
Guitar: Marco Heubaum
Guitar: Philip Restemeier
Bass: Steven Wussow
Drums: Gerit Lamm

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