Nima : The debut ’Fantasia’ from this Russian formation was a nice power metal album in my opinion. Although the gentlemen didn’t shy away from any clichés and the music was quite predictable in general, qualitatively the gentlemen obviously knew their business well and had delivered a bunch of well-composed, catchy and memorable songs. The band therefore made a strong, professional and promising impression.
This month Estate finally comes with the successor. As soon as the record takes off with the title track, they make my eyebrows raise and before I know it I'm already nodding approvingly, and that hardly changes during the next three quarters. Symphonic power metal is still the law here and the influences of and comparisons with bands like Gamma Ray, Helloween, Edguy, Blind Guardian, Elvenking, Rhapsody, Luca Turilli and similar acts are again abundantly present. It all sounds very familiar, but also wonderfully nostalgic. However, the gentlemen have made huge progress on all fronts and have clearly broadened their horizons. For example, they come with a slightly sturdier and heavier (and somewhat more modern) approach. In that respect, also the name Orden Ogan comes up here and there. In addition, they also show a more progressive approach than before and deliver even more variety. All that has ensured that the predictability has become a lot less, which also applies to that cliché what the debut mainly characterized. On that matter, 'Mirrorland' is at first a bit more difficult to digest than its predecessor, but fortunately the men have been cautious not to exaggerate in their urge for progress and variety, and manage keep you focused in general.
'Mirrorland' simply has everything you can expect from a quality album in this genre; wonderful up-tempo passages, sturdy mid-tempo riffs, catchy melodies, beautiful and atmospheric keyboards that provide a wonderfully bombastic and heroic charge, and of course catchy vocal lines. The (semi-) ballads 'Winter Kingdom' and 'Silvery Skies' are the only songs that appeal to me the least, but that is due to the fact that I don’t find most power metal ballades interesting (enough) in general. On the other hand, faster songs such as the title track and 'Matter Of Time', the bombastic, cold and dreamy 'Stolen Heart' and 'Storm Of The Age' and the beautiful 'Knight Of Hope' with its mysterious, oriental sounds, make it all worth the while. All in all 'Mirrorland' is a very strong and convincing album that will hopefully deliver the band its well-deserved international recognition. As a bonus we get the songs 'Knight Of Hope' and 'Matter Of Time', sung by respectively Mark Boals (known from a.o. Yngwie Malmsteen, Iron Mask, Royal Hunt and Ring Of Fire) and Mats Levén (a.o. Candlemass, Krux, At Vance, and also Yngwie Malmsteen). Fans of symphonic, progressive power metal and of the aforementioned bands will undoubtedly appreciate this album and should definitely give it a chance.