Whyzdom – Blind?
While I’d previously heard the name Whyzdom bandied about in various social network settings, listening to Blind? was my first introduction to their music. I had heard not one single note this band had played before I received the promo for this album. I knew they’d recently changed vocalists after the departure of Clémentine Delauney and the new replacement, Elvyne Lorient, came on board only in February of this year. All talk I’d heard of Whyzdom had been overwhelmingly positive and the word was this would be right up my alley.
And all I can say is: why hadn’t I gotten my act together and listened to these guys before?, because this album impressed the hell out of me. Blind? is amazing.
There is a lot going on in this album. Recently in an interview, main man Vynce Leff talked about the album’s concept (which is summed up by the title, complete with question mark – Blind?). Blindness in this case is both literal and metaphoric. We have “the concept of foreseeing, with that incredible mythic character of Cassandra. Second, the blindness of people in a more general way: sometimes because they don’t really see what’s happening around them, sometimes because they don’t WANT to see what’s happening around them.” I really enjoyed listening to this album so I could go through the lyrics and find the blindness theme where it was a little more oblique, like in “The Lighthouse” for instance, and where it was more literal in the mythological story of Cassandra, in the song of that name, which is one of the standouts on the CD. This made the CD more fun to listen to for me.
Another thing I that really knocked my socks off were the sophisticated and really quite epic orchestral arrangements. If you look on Whyzdom’s Facebook page, you’ll see they describe themselves as “philharmonic metal.” It’s a pretty apt description given the lushness and complexity of the symphonics in this release. Additionally, the songs on this album are longer and more complex than your typical symphonic power metal offering. “Cathedral of the Damned” clocks in at 10:31 minutes, and the shortest song is 5:03 minutes. The average is about 6 minutes, and this is due not only to the vastness of the symphonic passages, but to the longer instrumental intros and outros, choir segments, pre-choruses, and long breakdowns. This isn’t your typical verse-chorus-verse stuff.
This isn’t an album with much filler in it at all, and all of the songs have their own distinct sounds and feels. Some standouts for me, other than the aforementioned “Cassandra,” are “On The Road To Babylon” which has the feel of a movie score to it, “Paper Princess” which has some of the most powerful piano playing I’ve heard in metal – I have an image of the keyboardist, Marc Ruhlmann, seated behind a massive grand piano just maniacally pounding out those parts – and “Lonely Roads”, which has a haunting melody that again could easily go on a movie soundtrack.
If there is any weakness on Blind?, I would point to the vocals. Elvyne is competent, with a warm yet bright tone to her voice, but a little more range and power would really elevate this music to something even more special than what it already is.
There are a lot of hooky parts to this album that have stuck in my mind, making it a CD I’m sure I’ll be going back to again and again.
Allyson’s score: 4.0 out of 5