The Last Horizon
March 26, 2021
Since “Flames Of Eternity” less than two years have gone by. Now the multi- cultural troupe around singer Helena Iren Michaelsen and guitarist Jan Yrlund strikes again.
The album features lot of different styles; from goth rock to metal songs, but you will also find beautiful ballads and more folkish songs.
That’s what the short press release says. The musicians have obviously used the concert-free time of the past year to work creatively. The album was produced by Jan Yrlund and Oliver Philipps. The final touches were added by Jacob Hansen. And good to have the graphic designer in his own row. So, the artwork is again by Jan Yrlund (Darkgrove Design).
Who wants to listen to the new album of Imperia, needs a lot of time. Just under seventy minutes, distributed over two CDs. The opening song of the first disc is called “Dream Away”. The listener is greeted with a thrilling drum intro. But soon the quartet shows that they are masters of Epic Metal. The figurehead is, of course, the enchanting voice of Helena Iren Michaelsen. Her vocals range from mezzo-soprano (her comfort zone) to extremely high, but clean intoned coloratura soprano. And she doesn’t shy away from growls either. Refined with folk elements is then “Starlight”. Here medieval rock bands are shown how folk and rock/metal can form a symbiosis. Also “To Valhalla I Ride” starts with a folk beat, then it becomes epic, fitting to the Viking legend treated here. Once again there is danceable folk metal to be heard. “Flower And The Sea” comes along light and upbeat. “Blindfolded” is an interplay of epic midtempo bombast and quiet, ballad-like parts. And Helena experiments with her voice. The conclusion of the first CD is the homey ballad “While I Am Still Here”. And the singer clearly proves that she belongs to the best of her guild.
With many other bands, this would already be the end. Imperia, on the other hand, go one better. The second CD is even eighty seconds longer. And starts with the epic hymn “Only A Dream”. Again growls can be heard, I assume also from Helena. An ingenious guitar solo by former band member John Stam rounds the whole thing off. On “Where Are You Now” the violin playing of Henrik Perelló can be heard again, (as already on “Starlight”). In addition, there is a strong pop attitude, but this also fits Imperia. In “I Still Remember” Helena Iren Michaelsen lets her soprano sound again. The musicians also venture into Asian folklore. “Dancing” could well come from a band from the Far East. Vocals and instrumentation sound authentic. “My Other Half” is the second ballad of this double album. For long stretches the singer is accompanied by electric piano and strings. The anthemic “One Day” and the ballad “I Send You My Love” follow, before the piano version of “Let Down” (from 2011’s “Secret Passion”) closes the second disc.
The first CD offers again outstanding Imperia soundscapes. Unfortunately, the second CD flattens a bit after a strong start. From me it gets only the status of a bonus CD. As with the predecessor, less would have been more. But on “The Last Horizon” the top-class songs still dominate clearly. Maybe Helena and her guys should end after three quarters of an hour in the future.
Imperia – Starlight (Official Video): https://youtu.be/yL0dg_38O5Y
Helena Iren Michaelsen – Vocals
Jan “Örkki” Yrlund – Guitars, Programming
Gerry Verstreken – Bass
Merijn Mol – Drums
Henrik Perelló (Orchestra of the Finnish National Opera): Violin on “Starlight” and “Where Are You Now”.
John Stam: guitar solo on “Only A Dream
- Dream Away
- To Valhalla I Ride
- Flower And The Sea
- While I Am Still Here
- Only A Dream
- Where Are You Now
- I Still Remember
- My Other Half
- One Day
- I Send You My Love
- Let Down (Piano Version)