NION’s self-released EP, under the name “Witches Rune”, is their first official effort. Known before (though not to many Metal fans, I dare say) as PRIESTESS, the German ensemble invites us on a short journey to the land of sorcery and sword where each inhabitant’s favourite music is Gothic Metal combined with Power/Heavy stuff.
Bearing in mind the pretty vast number of classic Goth Metal band’s clones, I am rather sceptical as far as “rising stars” of this genre are concerned, thus I have also this time undertaken the necessary precautionary measures. Here is what I have observed.
The opening track, “Innocence”, starts with a very nice keyboard intro in the vein of German DIARY OF DREAM accompanied by some guitars. Shortly after, the first sign confirming my fears appears in the shape of NION’s female vocalist, Marzena, whose tone of voice is full of sugar and sweet passion, being for this reason the incarnation of Gothic/Power Metal kitsch in its purest form. The instrumental department does not make the things even a bit better in the song verses and bridges, though, luckily the guys have come up with a decent catchy chorus, which rescues the composition from my total rejection. Even though the Germans try to impress us here with some additional guitar solos the overall rate for the first stage of our journey is not the highest one.
A bunch of typical Heavy Metal riffs welcomes the listener in the following title composition. Contrary to “Innocence”, the chorus is much calmer and soulful whereas the bridge is more energetic. The general receipt for the music is of course still the same, thus we get once more sweet and charming guitar work and somewhat maudlin keyboard playing. The extra guitar solo efforts – though nice – do not change my mixed feelings towards this track.
Next up, we have a stand out song called “Favourite”, however, its uniqueness is not the consequence of some stunning musicianship; it is about a different atmosphere in comparison to the rest, a feel, which could grant NION one of the first prizes on European Medieval Music contest (if such festival was really held). No other track out of the four on “Witches Rune” brings about pictures of medieval castles and knights like this one. The composition is based on a vocal dialogue involving Marzena (acting here probably as a princess) and an unknown to me male voice (her minstrel?). Whilst the idea itself is not that bad, the performance wakes again my doubts as the amount of icing and kitsch exceeds – especially in chorus – every permissible level.
What comes afterwards is in my view the best moment on this CD, mostly thanks to its speed, rapacious energy and melody. One thing I do not appreciate so much is the vocal, everything else makes “Prayer” a decent Power Metal song. Perhaps it would be best for the group if they simply continued with composing music just exactly in this direction? I guess actually it would not do them any harm.
Taking consideration to the fact that “Witches Rune” is a self-release, I have to emphasize the pretty decent production of this album, which still could have been better if certain fragments were a bit more dynamic. What about the final rate then? Well, I am aware, that even with every disadvantage I have mentioned earlier, there will probably be quite many Gothic/Power Metal fans who will get attracted to the CD. After all, the album is catchy, it has its specific atmosphere and some more than decent moments. Admittedly, it is not exactly what my humble person likes most, but I feel, that some Metal fans would not have any problems at all with purchasing NION’s EP.
The overall mark will not be for the band a reason to be proud, yet it is worth mentioning, that the German sextet seem to have potential to write more complex and interesting stuff. It is not excluded then, that they will surprise me positively in the near future.
(Online June 15, 2008)