The sole fact of Arjen Lucassen being once involved in the Dutch STREAM OF PASSION was enough for me to get to know this ensemble. Although they have released only their second full-length they have already before managed to gain some appreciation from the Metal fans.
Their music relies to a considerable extent on Marcela Bovio’s vocals, which – luckily for the band – do not abuse you with an overwhelming dose of icing and sweet cream. Her voice is rather strong, clean and you can hear that she must have been training herself in the singing profession. On the other hand, though, there is only a couple of her vocal lines that might be considered as interesting enough to be worth memorizing for a longer time.
Each tune on “The Flame Within” balances on the border between Goth, Prog and Symphonic Metal. Dependably on the track you are listening to you can get various amounts of one of these three genres. The Goth influences are most distinctive in the keyboard playing, in the vocals – rather obviously, and in the rhythm guitar sequences. These are also responsible for the Progressive twist that makes the “The Flame Within” a somewhat more sophisticated material, especially on the background of typical female fronted atmospheric bands.
To my disappointment there are very few moments here that draw my attention, be it immediately or after repeated listening. The opener and the following tracks are surely among the best things one can find here offering great melodies and nice arrangements like in the chorus part of “In The End” where the catchy, yet unpretentious vocal line perfectly fits the symphonic feeling of the keys, heavy guitars and solid rhythm section. On top of it all there is some great soloing, which raises even more the artistic value of this track. After this second song from “The Flame Within” the magical aura disappears and at first most of the compositions seem to be like a string of flavourless, repetitive and generally speaking mediocre sound sequences. Still there are several exceptions in the form of “Burn My Pain” or “This Endless Night” (these pieces draw my attention just like the two openers) that compensate a bit for the somewhat boring rest and let one hope that next time the band will record a less uneven album.
While there is pretty much to complain about the song writing I can not really cavil about the quality of the album production. It is just as it should be in this kind of music – spatial, selective and powerful, emanating also with a sort of pleasant warmth. On the other hand – how much does even the best Goth/Prog Metal production process in the world mean when an album includes songs that are unoriginal making you lose interest in the work sooner than in its middle?
STREAM OF PASSION have made a piece that definitely has its moments, yet at the same is filled with songs of poorer quality, presence of which takes several points away from the final rate. If only they come up with more ideas in the vein of the wonderful ones from the mentioned top songs their next album will be a really worthwhile release.
(Online July 26, 2009)