The Italian symphonic metal band Onyria, formed in 2009, finally got to “Break The Silence” (pun unapologetically intended) in February 2015 with the release of their debut LP, after having released some re-arranged covers of global hits which helped in boosting their web-based popularity
Arrangements are on
ple and straightforward, the instrumentation doesn’t indulge in end-to-themselves virtuoso showoffs, leaving room to Helena’s powerful and dynamic vocals. Some quality singing there! Also, finally some female “metal” vocals that are properly aggressive in their own way and not of some watered-down “wannabe opera singer” kind.
You’ll get heavy riffing as well as super catchy melodies in equal parts. Well, one thing I couldn’t help but noticing is how every single element of the tunes is somehow anthemic: you’ll find your head full of ear-worms without even paying attention.
The album opens with Sleep No More by which we begin to get the trademark Onyria sound: simple tunes, catchy riffs and refrains, symphonic choirs and lots and lots of melody. The “breathy” mid-song guitar solo gives a break to the overall drive and is in my opinion a very memorable moment amongst the entire album length.
Revenge is probably the most modern-sounding track of the album. Percussive and heavy drop A guitars give a nod to the contemporary djent movement. Counting from this same track onwards, we can spot some occasional growling by guitarist Simon in songs to come as well.
Heaviness is tamed a little with Prisoner of Mind, bringing some more bluesy-feeling clean guitar licks, with still a catchy chorus and a melodic solo, while Fake gets us in a more fast-paced environment with a punk-ish feel. My Addiction sets the usual mood, while Save Me From The End comes off as a slow ballad resolving in a dilated crescendo which develops through the entire length of the piece. Helena’s vocals really shine here, with spot-on melodies and phrasing. The tension finally explodes in an enjoyable and energetic solo. A really soulful track.
This one is surely my standout track as well as the reason I think they should engage in more power ballads.
Now on to the ones I consider the only two weak points in the record. In my personal opinion Damned does not “flow” so well arrangement-wise, the “it’s just like hell” passage feels like holding the “expected” resolution of the musical clima, making the wait for the explosive chorus a tiny bit too long to me, especially from the 2nd refrain on (I will dance with the moonlight …It’s just like hell). Still the melodies are very catchy.
Afterlife is what I’d call the only weak track in the album if I really had to. Catchy? Check, but the arrangement is maybe too much “hollow” and the high amount of instrumental repetition in the verses, showcasing a cut-and-thrust dialogue between the two pictured “characters-lovers”, can feel boring. Shortly, the composition comes off as a bit too static for my tastes.
Finally, we get to the last two tracks. Lagrimas De Cinixiu is surely the outlier in the bunch, a collaboration with the Sardinian hip-hop artists Quilo, sang in Italian by Helena. Some drum fills are maybe too over the place for the mood and for my personal taste Helena’s vocals sound better in English.
The track denounces Sardinian criminal fires. “Lagrimas…” really gives a break to the rest of the album, maybe in a too much abrupt way, but diversification makes sense. The rapper’s featuring gives kind of a nu-metal vibe to his section.
To close up, Don’t Forget Me is my second selected track right after “Save me…”. Well guess what? It’s another straightforward slow-paced, melodic heavy ballad with a nice rock drive to it in the choruses. I just can’t help but loving Helena’s vocals in that sort of dynamic ballad context, which in my opinion complements her vocal nuances really well.
I will now share some of my personal thoughts.
The album is very vocal-oriented indeed, so much it confused me at the very first listens. The songs are almost all equal in key, and the instrumental mix is very far back from the vocals (intentionally) so it’s difficult to get reference points in the listening experience at first. For instance, you’ll only “feel” the rhythm section without a headphone listen, as well as it’s difficult to grasp the actual drum lines, the reinforcement guitar tracks and every kind of detail without that sort of listening experience. That doesn’t take away from enjoying the music, still. At a very first glance one could imply “all songs sound the same” but you just have to be patient and you’ll begin to isolate specific elements as riffs and melodies over repeated listens.
Technically speaking, the album is produced very well for being entirely home-recorded, as well as mixed and mastered. At least by a listen in the car I would fairly easily be tricked in believing it to be mixed by any random commercial producer. Mastering is also very conservative, which is nothing but positive.
The only obvious weak point lies in the programmed drums, but that’s now being totally solved by the new-entry drummer Alessandro Magnani which will contribute to the band’s rearranged live sound.
The album might feel maybe too much straightforward at times, but I respect the band’s choice of wanting to sound as easy listening as possible. Also let’s not forget it was originally arranged by guitarist Simon and singer Helena alone, in fact all of the other instruments are virtually programmed. I’m sure that the present day contribution of flesh-and-bone musicians will inject more ideas and liveliness in compositions to come.
That being said, a really enjoyable debut by the Italian band, and an album that I listened very pleasantly. For sure a heavy effort by a DIY band, both musically and production-wise.
Definitely advised to any straightforward modern rock fan who can’t live without melody.
Hope to hear the band “Break The Silence” yet again soon!
1.Sleep No More
3.Prisoner Of Mind
6.Save Me From The End
9.Lagrimas De Cinixiu (feat. Quilo)
10.Don’t Forget Me