Release: November 12, 2019
By their own description Shadowhispers is a “symphonic metal with a tincture of gothic fiction”. The Luxembourg-based band was formed in 2009 and after some line-up changes, they released their debut EP “A tincture of gothic fiction” in 2017 followed by their first full length effort “Mara” in November 2019.
Having an ethereal, otherworldly atmosphere, Shadowhispers creates a fusion genre combining power metal and elements of orchestral classical music with the dark atmospheres of gothic rock and Diane Frisch’s operatic vocals.
Following in the footsteps of such acts as After Forever, Amberian Dawn, early Within Temptation and early Xandria and maybe a bit of Sirenia, Shadowhispers are trying to find their own sound and personality, and as such “Mara” is their attempt at creating bombastic symphonic metal with a persistent gothic overlay.
Guardians of the threshold
Fleeing from reality
The last whisper
And as far as I’m concerned, they are halfway there, as the vocals and orchestral arrangements are quite good, but they still need a bit more oomph in their approach to songwriting. And what I mean by that is a more diverse vocal approach as the operatic singing tends to be a bit tiresome on the ears after a while, and more dynamism from the guitars. I do like the keyboard parts quite a lot as I have always found the keyboard / piano to add so much melody to the music in general. And the gothic vibe of the overture “First shadows” really sets the mood and bleeds seamlessly into “Guardians of the threshold”. Really enjoy that ‘Phantom of the opera’ vibe that comes from the keyboard. The drum beats in “Monster” and “Dishonor” add some energy to the music which is otherwise quite homogenous, mostly in terms of tempo. The title track “Mara” wants to be the epic piece of the album but doesn’t quite manage to impress me.
Nonetheless the album does offer some nice surprises along the way, and the piano backdrop on “Distant lovers” is among the highlights while power ballad “Poisonous lips” and “Fleeing from reality” offer nice dynamics between the vocals and the instruments. “Ghost inside” is catchier as it flirts with some power metal elements while “The reign” is pure symphonic epicness. The instrumental track “The last whisper” has a nice guitar melody to it and “Slow death” closes the album on a very ominous and dark tone. It’s perfectly clear that I like the second half of the album better than the first part.
All in all, “Mara” has its ups and downs, as Shadowhispers need to find their strengths when it comes to creating music, and use those strengths on subsequent releases. Diane seems to be a very capable vocalist and Laurent a very talented keyboard player and in between the two of them could create some wonderful compositions.
Rating: 7 / 10
Diane Frisch – vocals
Laurent Schleck – keyboards
Jean-Claude Sonnen – guitars
Piquet Jung – bass
Motti Speller – drums