Sjak : The Italian symphonic metal outfit Asphodelia was founded in 2016 by female singer Samuela ‘Samah’ Fuiani and guitar player and hubby Ruggero ‘Lordian’ Doronzo with the intention to create varied and dark sounding heavy metal in which the focus would be placed on the entertaining riffs of Ruggero and the beautiful vocals of Samuela. In bass player Davide Ricciardi, drummer Guiseppe Cantonza and second guitarist Gianni Collona the necessary like-minded souls were recruited and that has now resulted in the fantastic full-length debut album ‘Welcome Apocalypse’, after having released the promo-EP ‘Vengeance’ in 2016 already, on which Asphodelia clearly prove to be one of the most interesting newcomers within the genre.
You can’t really see the band as a real newcomer however, because the duo Samuela and Ruggero were already active together in the band Black Dahlia, with whom they released the also very enjoyable record ‘Fragments’ in 2014. Therefore you can see Asphodelia as the successor of Black Dahlia with the remark that the song material that is to be found on ‘Welcome Apocalypse’ is quite a bit more adventurous and mature than what was displayed on ‘Fragments’. The band has obviously further developed itself and the progression that they show on this new album is very impressive I might say.
Biggest asset on ‘Welcome Apocalypse’ is the very varied and greatly performed song material, in which especially female singer Samuela Fuiani gets lots of opportunities (which she grabs with both hands) to showcase her impressive vocal capabilities. Also within the songs itself lots of variety between subdued passages and heavy parts is present and that results in a very adventurous album which doesn’t bore for a single second, which becomes better with every listen and captivates you from beginning to end.
That immediately becomes clear with the opening and title track ‘Welcome Apocalypse’, in which the dark, atmospheric riffs and the fantastic vocals immediately stand out. The great ‘Alive’ enables Samuela to attract all attention to her and shows the versatility of her voice in all aspects. With ‘Blackout’, ‘Heroes’, ‘Flowers Of Evil’, ‘The Show’ and ‘Behind A Smile’ lots of other great tunes are to be found on this album, but as a matter of fact all songs on offer are absolutely very worthwhile listening to. During the whole duration ‘Welcome Apocalypse’ proves to be a big musical adventure, which will definitely be to the liking of the fans of symphonically tinted heavy metal full of variety. Even the daring U2-cover ‘With Or Without You’, which deviates considerably from the original, proves to be a successful experiment and that once more proves the sheer class of this band.
The combination of great song material, catchy melodies, lovely riffs and fantastic vocals accounts for the fact that for me this ‘Welcome Apolypse’ of Asphodelia belongs to the best records that I’ve listened to so far this year. Therefore it may be obvious that anyone that calls himself or herself a fan of high-quality symphonic metal just can’t escape this record. As such an essential purchase!