Multinational outfit Imperia have been plugging away for over a decade now – in the process releasing four albums – but still they’ve failed to put a dent in the collective metal consciousness. That’s a shame, because there are moments on Tears of Silence that would, were they to be recorded by the likes of Epica, Nightwish or Within Temptation, be hailed as pure world-beating brilliance by fans of this sort of stuff.
This sort of stuff is, of course, folk-tinged, opera-soaked female-fronted symphonic metal. Dark enough to be gothic, but always in possession of enough bare-faced melodicism to appeal to the Eurovision crowd, Imperia cover all the bases without ever really conquering any of them. After a couple of sturdy pipe openers, standout track Broken (When the Silence Cries) comes next, and this is where the band flourishes best, the impressive vocals of Helena Iren Michaelsen tugging at the ears as she moves from a delicate croon through strident metallic passion to a triumphant soprano, sometimes all in the course of a single line; this virtuoso performance is solidly backed by the band, who know their place and content themselves with supplying the oft-times standard issue sturm und drang with precision and grim-faced professionalism. Apart from Broken…, other highlights are the softer Away and the heartfelt Friheten Vil Seire (sung in Michaelsen’s native Norwegian), whilst My Screaming Heart begins playfully before erupting into the sort of pompous, exciting romp Delain might put their name to.
Motherlove stands out if only because of its more straightforward rock attack, with guitarist Jan “Örkki” Yrlund in particular benefitting from the track’s looser, more aggressive feel, but the band lose the momentum they’ve built up through this track with the clunky, awkward sounding The Vikingsong, despite Yrland throwing in his best solo of the album here. I don’t know, but maybe focussing a bit more on one aspect of the repertoire might pay a few dividends? The scattershot, bit-of-everything-approach employed throughout most of ToS serves only really to lessen the impact of everything on display.
At the end of the day, if you like any of the bands I’ve mentioned above then there are elements of Tears of Silence that you’re gonna love. However I’m really struggling to put my finger on anything here – save for the superior orchestral arrangements, perhaps, which come courtesy of Everon’s Oliver Philipps – that really puts this band squarely and deservingly in such exalted company.