ANN – CHAPTER 1: ANNE BOLEYN
Release date: 01/08/2018
"A third album, with three chapters, each chapter belonging to a story, that needs to be told!"
Ex Libris is now back and with new music, the songwriting process began after Dianne's departure of German symphonic metal band Xandria, the past now behind her, she now focuses in her own band to release new music after it’s 3 year slumber since “Madea”. The band announced they’ll release a new album, a progressive metal trilogy called “Ann”, another concept album about three different women from a different time, a different place and a different background, but all three of the women have a story that needs to be told. The album was successfully funded through GoGetFunding, passing the goal of €25.000 on the last day of the campaign, in which will help the band in the recording process for the metal trilogy.
The first chapter tells the story about Anne Boleyn, the Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of King Henry VIII and a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the start of the English Reformation. "Chapter 1: Anne Boleyn" can be characterized as a blend between modern and vintage progressive metal, chapter 2 and 3 will bring different flavors. Throughout the whole album “ANN” will consist of a wide variety of vocal colors, strong melodies, heavy riffing, progressive rhythms, ambient atmospheres and a high level of virtuosity. The music of the three chapters will be supporting each story in sound and vision.
Opening their long-awaited music is “The Courtship”, the song picks up in the year of 1526 where King Henry begins his pursuit of Anne, up to their marriage in 1533. Immediately, the track comes in intense and straight-forward with the band’s signature sound, the progressive driven guitar riffs, the funky bass, and the drums sounds less compressed than it was in the previous album. Now to the vocals and, oh my… Dianne comes in not too loud, but not soft as well, it’s at a perfect volume and the warm and smooth singing voice gave me goosebumps, and I love how the instrumentation beneath her changes with her tone of voice giving us a visual story of Anne resisting King Henry's attempts to seduce her. Heading into the chorus line, the bass is heard more and the strings arrangements from the synths creeping underneath the soft voices, the verse begins to pick up more with the guitar, drums and WHAM! Dianne’s brings out her weapon, the operatic voice, and that’s where I'm bought into this track and fell in love with it. The second verse of the track comes the really fun part, the keyboard and guitar solo battle midway fo the song and Dianne's acting, sounds authentic as if Anne was really narrating her story, I love the vocals when she says “beckoning to kiss you” and “beckoning to thrill you” in a quick fashion while reaching the higher notes as she's trying her hardest to resist the king, while the choir of her own voices tells her to give up and tells him to “make me yours”. The ending to this track is superb, the voice’s display of emotion came across perfectly, first goes softly as she and King Henry are now in love and transitions to dramatic operatic tones as the day of marriage comes as she exclaims that she now belongs to the king.
Next is “The Miscarriage”, an emotional power ballad that tells about the moment when Anne miscarries a child, the son and heir to the throne that King Henry VIII desperately wanted. The miscarriage led to the break between Anne and Henry, who was now on the look out for a new Queen, while Anne is banned to Tower of London, awaiting her execution. The piano opens the music, giving us a depressing atmosphere, the vocals follows suit in a tone of sadness, as Dianne mentioned during the listening process, this song is like a mirror to her own soul, she feels the same pain that struck Anne. She cries as the she talked about the child that could have been a salvation to the her and curses fate that took that chance from her, all of her hopes have become lies, the electric guitar solo accompanies the pain, striking us with sorrow tones. At the 3-minute mark is where the power ballad comes in, the drums and keys pick up intensifying the emotions Anne is going, and you hear how much Dianne poured out her own pain into Boleyn’s story, giving it and her performance justice.
“The Beheading”, it is now Anne's final moments, starting off at Anne's last moments of captivity in the Tower of London, following her on her path towards the scaffold. Thee song opens with the sounds of Tudor/renaissance music, her words, Anne sounds accepting that her time has come as the people await her execution due to high treason, then suddenly, the guitar distortion comes in rising and starts it power metal solo drive with the synths! Again, Dianne’s pulls an awesome display with her intense voice as she is displaying Anne's emotion of anger from what the people have become of after listening to the lies thrown upon her, but as well calm as she continues to move forward with her head held high. The song becomes an emotional mess (in a good way) as the story reaches the moment Anne makes it to the scaffolding, there awaits King Henry, where she becomes boiling with rage calling him a coward while reaching those high notes, as she says her last word with her harsh voices, she curses him by calling traitor and that may his lies forever terrorize him for what he has caused to the poor woman with the instruments praising her loud words to the people at execution, and telling to remember her for who she was: Anne Boleyn.
I'm astonished that this 3-track EP, in only 20 minutes, the band showed of their full potential for their third album, and I must say, they sound heavier than they were previou. I’m already in love with the first part of the album and I'm on the edge of my seat on what’s about to come in the next “ANN” story.
So far, I'm giving chapter one a 5/5!
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Dianne van Giersbergen – vocals
Koen Stam – keyboards
Luke van Gerven – bass
Harmen Kieboom – drums
Bob Wijtsma – guitars