Arven – Black Is The Colour
Reviewed by Kevin Hathaway
Not to be outdone by Japanese acts such as Aldious, Germany’s Arven is an all-female symphonic metal band (save for the drummer) that has a folksy flourish to their sound. Their sophomore effort, titled Black Is the Colour, and named after an Irish folk song (covered here as, curiously enough, a bonus track), doesn’t stray too far from the formula of the debut, Music of Light. Featuring the airy and dreamy, but confident soprano vocals of Carina Hanselmann, paired with a twin lead guitar assault displaying a playful Euro-power metal influence (not to mention a bit of eye candy, curse my red-blooded male genetics), Arven has a surefire formula at work here for fans of symphonic metal. But at the same time, it feels a bit “been there, done that.”
There is good stuff here though. Even the ballads, such as “All I Got,” give Hanselmann a chance to weave more emotion into her singing, and don’t come off as too cheesy. The instrumental “Cercle d’Emaraude” is delightfully folksy and bouncy, and would work really well at a Renaissance Faire. I know a few reviewers (though not necessarily at Black Wind) who would probably say the same thing but with a negative connotation; I assure you that I don’t mean such here. Renaissance Faires are awesome. “The One For Me” has a guest spot for singer and “rakkatakka”-er Stefan Schmidt (of Van Canto), who complements Hanselmann quite nicely. ”Believe” is the typical Euro-power four-minute, fist-pumping, barn-burning opening track (and any other number of hyphenated words). “Fireside Stories” is also good, but would probably be better with an acoustic guitar to fit the campfire atmosphere described in the lyrics.
One truly awful song lurks here, though – “Rainsong.” If there’s anything I loathe in any music I listen to, it is one-line choruses that are repeated to death (and there go the ‘Nam flashbacks to Crystallion’s Killer). The chorus of “Rainsong” verges on mind-numbingly stupid with its incessant and seemingly never-ending “da da da da da”s. Thankfully, the rest of the album is nowhere near as annoying, but that one low point really drags things down a bit. The rest is fairly standard female-fronted guitar-driven symphonic metal in the vein of Dawn Of Destiny.
This album isn’t going to win any accolades, but fans of the genre should find plenty to like in this competent, if maybe a little too safe, symphonic metal album. For your sanity, though, keep the skip button ready for “Rainsong.” I’m just looking out for you, dear readers.
3.5 // 5