Rating:
8.3
Xandria - Neverworld's End
22 February 2012


01. A Prophecy Of Worlds To Fall
02. Valentine
03. Forevermore
04. Euphoria
05. Blood On My Hands
06. Soulcrusher
07. The Dream Is Still Alive
08. The Lost Elysion
09. Call Of The Wind
10. A Thousand Letters
11. Cursed
12. The Nomad's Crown
13. When The Mirror Cracks [limited digipak bonus]
14. The Sailor And The Sea [Limited Digipak bonus]


Do you miss the time when Nightwish was just being Nightwish instead of Night-Pirates-Of-The-Caribbean-Disney-Wish? Then there are those that still wish Tarja hadn't left in the first place. With all due respect to Tuomas Holopainen's current expansive palette of musical ideas, I do think Nightwish's back catalogue is a major reason why they have such a massive following. Of course, Anette won't be singing in an operatic style all of a sudden and Tuomas loves the current direction he's taking the band to (and who knows, maybe they will succeed in bringing a killer album that will please both old and new fans next time round), so save for the few stuck-in-the-mud stragglers, world plus dog has moved on and lived happily ever after And the fact is that there are those that constantly return to their worn out copies of Oceanborn / Wishmaster. Here is when Xandria's latest effort Neverworld's End comes into the picture.

Okay. It's rather unfair for another band to hijack Xandria's review, especially when the first paragraph is when most readers will be the most attentive. However, the resemblance, or in more politically correct terms - the feelings evoked - is definitely old Nightwish and it's not necessarily a bad thing as I'm sure Xandria has gained and will gain a lot more fans because of that. It most certainly helps when the musicianship displayed is suitably complimented by a bombastic production. However, the determining factor is the song writing. Unlike most female-fronted bands, the songs are actually memorable without being written just for catchiness' sake. Whereas 97.3% of such bands would lose focus after a track or two, Xandria keeps it tight and proves to be captivating enough all the way*. The tracks gallop along in the right tempo with pleasingly heavy riffs (in relative terms of the sub-genre) and the symphonic parts are prevalent throughout without being obtrusive or honky-tonky (*accusing glare at Wishmaster*) while adding grandeur to the whole experience.

The addition of front woman Manuela Kraller to the ranks of the Xandria camp is probably one of the best things that could have happened to a band after the departure of longtime vocalist Lisa Middelhauve. Some might compare Manuela's voice to Tarja Turunen and I would say Manuela's soprano voice is not quite as rich and lush, though it's very, very close. Had I not been so set on the comparisons, I probably would not notice it as Manuela can definitely hold her own, but more importantly is the vocal diversity she has on offer.

Perhaps it's my general low expectations from me-too symphonic metal bands, or the rather cliché cover artwork and the line-up fluctuations made me rather skeptical, but I am definitely pleasantly surprised by Neverworld's End. There will definitely be some that are unhappy about the lack of originality, but as far as this reviewer is concerned, this is an enjoyable record and a quality release for a sub-genre of music that has been producing too many unsatisfactory albums. Xandria have successfully carved out their own little niche and I look forward to their future releases with hopefully more of a personal stamp on it.


*Notta Benne: aurally speaking rather than in visual terms, though admittedly Manuela does look rather attractive.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 5
Production: 8


Band profile: Xandria
Album: Neverworld's End


 



Written on 06.04.2012 by
Ag Fox
Ag Fox loves listening to music but is far from being a prolific writer. This corner just shows how territorial he is.
More reviews by Ag Fox ››



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Milena - 06.04.2012 at 10:07  
Ah, yes, words did come to you naturally

I probably won't be listening to this until the end of the year though... not my cup of tea.
AngelofDeth - 06.04.2012 at 10:42  
Great review, pretty much my thoughts exactly. While I have enjoyed listening to it a few times The lack of originality is the one thing that prevents me from repeatedly listening to this album.

But at the same time I just got into Nightwish recently so this album may be more interesting for those older fans that are burntout on Nightwish.
BloodTears - 06.04.2012 at 21:53  
I salute your return to reviews although I probably won't listen to this at all
Dark Blood - 07.04.2012 at 00:52  
Although I was never a big fan of Xandria, specially since India, this release caught my eye precisely for its resemblances with good ol' Nightwish (which I'm a big fan, actually). I still haven't heard much about this album but what I did hear, I really liked it. So I think this one deserves at least a try.

Very nice review. Keep it up
Unhealer - 07.04.2012 at 05:00  
I've already said what I think of this record in a couple of other threads; but basically I can't stand the similarities to Nightwish and it bothers me that this is getting so much praise for that.
There may be lots of bands doing the same out there and it's probably not that bad, but Xandria is doing it after 15 years of musical career where they had their "own" style. I believe it's cheating somehow.

I totally agree with your review though, but I think the overall score should have been affected by the 5 in originality. And leaving all that aside, I don't think the album itself is that good. But that could just be me being mad at the band, who knows.
The Shape 1973 - 07.04.2012 at 11:45  
People are getting too hung up on the whole originality thing. It seems that some people think it is wrong to sound like mid-era Nightwish. Its been a good few years ago now that Tarja left and how many threads on this very site have been cursing Anette for ruining Nightwish's sound with her allegedly pop voice. So why the moaning now when a band have taken that sound and improved it so much.

Nightwish have gone in a different direction and Tarja's solo stuff is patchy to say the least. Xandria have gone back to what made the genre popular. Not many of the original bands are releasing stuff like this anymore, having gone down the pop/metal route and left the over the top symphonic/gothic sound behind. I think Xandria need praise for this rather than being accused of copying Nightwish.
Promonex - 07.04.2012 at 16:20  
The best thing about this album is that it doesn't sound like Xandria. Good or maybe even very good album, but definitely not worth of all the praise it gets.
Kulu - 07.04.2012 at 21:24  
Having seen the genre and despite the high rating by MS users I would disregard this album, but your references to early Nightwish and heavy riffs sparked my interest a little. This is still not something I listen to nowadays, but maybe if I get in the mood, I will check this album out.
R'Vannith - 08.04.2012 at 19:01  
Based on its own merits this album is very strong I think. The fact that I still listen to it regularly after many listens tells me its certainly good enough in the songwriting department to keep me coming back despite the originality issue. I guess for me its not really an issue though, I'm too preoccupied really to give it all that much consideration. This review sums up the album nicely I think, enjoyable but such enjoyment will depend upon how much of an issue the listener makes of its originality.
hard_tom - 08.04.2012 at 22:52  
My opinion Xandria´s new album is "the best Nightwish album" since "Wishmaster". Big surprise.
cb_kinetic - 09.04.2012 at 03:43  
I like your review - this paragraph especially, sums up what I think as well:

"Perhaps it's my general low expectations from me-too symphonic metal bands, or the rather cliché cover artwork and the line-up fluctuations made me rather skeptical, but I am definitely pleasantly surprised by Neverworld's End. There will definitely be some that are unhappy about the lack of originality, but as far as this reviewer is concerned, this is an enjoyable record and a quality release for a sub-genre of music that has been producing too many unsatisfactory albums. Xandria have successfully carved out their own little niche and I look forward to their future releases with hopefully more of a personal stamp on it."
Costa - 18.04.2012 at 13:11  
Being an old Nightwish or a new Xandria it doesn't matter... the album sounds really good.
basquetal - 24.04.2012 at 02:19  
The best songs of Neverworld's End album: Blood on my hands; Valentine; Euphoria.
Vonpire - 24.04.2012 at 03:11  
Those are really great songs but the best imo are :
A Prophecy Of Worlds To Fall ; Soulcrusher ; Call Of The Wind ; Cursed ; The Nomad's Crown and Valentine.

Well thinking better... fuck that! ALL are the best
ManiacBlasphemer - 09.10.2012 at 01:10  
I have been following Manuela Kraller ever since I saw her in a Haggard concert, she was definitely amazing, but she does not have a rich soprano voice like Tarja.

This album, even though it lacks originality (I do not know why people are so hung up with the originality issue since the symphonic metal genre barely has a handful of bands you can call them original) but in the song-writing department, they exceed all expectations. All the tracks are memorable, and even after like 6 months, I still listen to this record and I never get bored.

The era when Nightwish used to amaze people has ended but Xandria was the one that revived it. I do not think of this as cheating, since there isn't anyone that said "you are not allowed to be influenced by Nightwish" but instead, Xandria not only borrowed some influences from Nightwish, they added their own touch (Forevermore still maintains the old Xandria style) and they managed to pull out an entirely memorable album. Now seriously, even the old Nightwish songs had at least 2-3 songs that were a sort of filler, it is not the case with the new Xandria record, all of them are memorable without exception.

I do not know why people are reluctant to listen to this record, I consider it probably the best symphonic metal record that surfaced in the 2012. I never felt so much enjoyment since Epica's Consign to Oblivion.
Vonpire - 25.10.2012 at 20:15  
Written by ManiacBlasphemer on 09.10.2012 at 01:10

I have been following Manuela Kraller ever since I saw her in a Haggard concert, she was definitely amazing, but she does not have a rich soprano voice like Tarja.

This album, even though it lacks originality (I do not know why people are so hung up with the originality issue since the symphonic metal genre barely has a handful of bands you can call them original) but in the song-writing department, they exceed all expectations. All the tracks are memorable, and even after like 6 months, I still listen to this record and I never get bored.

The era when Nightwish used to amaze people has ended but Xandria was the one that revived it. I do not think of this as cheating, since there isn't anyone that said "you are not allowed to be influenced by Nightwish" but instead, Xandria not only borrowed some influences from Nightwish, they added their own touch (Forevermore still maintains the old Xandria style) and they managed to pull out an entirely memorable album. Now seriously, even the old Nightwish songs had at least 2-3 songs that were a sort of filler, it is not the case with the new Xandria record, all of them are memorable without exception.

I do not know why people are reluctant to listen to this record, I consider it probably the best symphonic metal record that surfaced in the 2012. I never felt so much enjoyment since Epica's Consign to Oblivion.



Exactly my thoughts.
Ernis - 25.10.2012 at 21:10  
The cover art surely screams Nightwish : )
Spacerunner - 13.11.2012 at 15:51  
Written by ManiacBlasphemer on 09.10.2012 at 01:10
she does not have a rich soprano voice like Tarja.

Can't hear very much difference really. It's all about shades of beauty))

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