Aonia are a 7-headed, 14-legged creature, wielding two ‘sopranos with balls’ as vocalists, shredding twin axes, symphonic keys, and driving drums and bass. An operatic/progressive metal band, Aonia have been compared to artists such as Therion, Avantasia, Nightwish, Epica, and ReVamp.
It has been an incredible year for Aonia. They won the Bloodstock Metal to the Masses Sheffield competition and absolutely blew those in attendance away when they played the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock this year, including us.
We’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of their debut album especially following our review of their single, Violet Hours. You can read that here. Well, it’s almost time.
The 6th of October 2018 sees the release of “The Seven” – at AoniaFest II, a ten-band festival at the Corporation, Sheffield. Ten tracks long, Blaze Bayley (Wolfsbane, Ex-Iron Maiden) and Iliana Basileios Tsakiraki (Enemy of Reality) feature as special guests on two of the tracks.
You can’t listen to Aonia and not think of the word ‘epic’. It’s a word that gets thrown around far too much and its original meaning has been diluted. Even if it has lost meaning to you there is no escaping the fact that Aonia are an epic experience and The Seven is an epic album.
It’s not just because of the powerful twin vocal performances of Mel and Joanne (although they absolutely are a major reason why). The guitar harmonies, the thundering drum beats, the ingenious bass hooks and creative keyboard usage all combine to create a modern sounding operatic metal album.
Setting the bar very early with the opening track, Sold My Soul is the thrilling sound of a confident band belting out huge riffs and soulful vocals. It’s weighted more toward the symphonic but that’s OK because the previously released single, Violet Hours comes next and that really hammers the rockier side of the band home with catchy rhythm and a duel vocal performance that can be best be described as incredible. The guitar solo alone is to die for.
Worried it’s not metal enough for you? Worry not as Still, I Rise’s fast paced groove mixes the formula up a bit. With the legendary Blaze Bayley lending his vocal talents to the track, it really stands out. It’s followed by the fantastical sounding, Sirens’ Lament and Eye of the Storm. The former conjures up images of far away lands drenched in light while the latter has an almost folk-like jig to it.
There are enough differences between the two female singers that makes them individually stand out all while sounding perfectly in sync with each other too. One of the best examples of this is the utterly spell-binding Heartsword. A track dominated by energetic vocals (including those of Iliana Basileios Tsakiraki) but like a great sidekick, the rest of the instruments help keep things tight even when it slows right down. The bass then leads us back towards a frantic guitar solo. The best track on the album? It’s a very strong contender.
To say Aonia give their everything on this album is an understatement. By time the wonderfully melodic and eerily beautiful, If You Dare and the twisted edge of Hyde and Seek come along things have reached their apex.
There are some that will dismiss The Seven off the bat because of the tag ‘opera metal’. Don’t let that put you off listening to this album. Aonia might not be leading the pack in this regard but that’s purely because this is their debut album. Few similar bands have put out something as high in quality as this release in quite a while.
Aonia – The Seven Full Track Listing:
1. Sold My Soul
2. Violet Hours
3. Wake Up, Lucretia
4. Still, I Rise (feat. Blaze Bayley)
5. Sirens: Lament
6. Eye of the Storm
7. Heartsword (feat. Iliana Basileios Tsakiraki)
8. At the Masquerade
9. If You Dare
10. Hyde and Seek
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Aonia - The Seven (Self Released)
The Final Score - 9/10