I always have trouble with CDs such as SINPHONIA's latest offering "The Divine Disharmony": on one hand, the music itself is excellent, but on the other hand, the vocals are sometimes difficult to tolerate. It becomes frustrating at times, as a very enjoyable instrumental section will immediately be contrasted by an almost intolerable vocal passage. Thus, I will not hesitate to emphasize the importance of having a vocalist competent enough to compliment the music supporting them, as any imbalance will inevitably harm the quality of the final product.
What renders this whole experience even more frustrating is that SINPHONIA vocalist Monika Pederson is not a bad singer. The problem arises in the way she delivers her vocal lines and melodies. While her vocals work well on a song like "The Reflective And The Sleeper", she then adopts an unbearably forced style on the otherwise enjoyable "A Spectre Of Dust". Rather than sing on this track, her voice takes on a completely different tone that sounds forced and unpleasant, which ends up hurting the song while leaving the listener in a frustrated state.
SINPHONIA play a darkened, symphonic style of Progressive Metal that never really picks up in speed but remains in a lingering state. This succeeds quite well in creating a haunting, yet compelling atmosphere that is apparent throughout the entire album. While the keyboard and guitar passages are pleasing to the ear, they are never overwhelming in their complexity but rather, they enchant the listener in their subdued beauty. The album flows quite nicely from beginning to end, while the lyrical content is bound to intrigue those looking for something to wrap their minds around.
While I cannot complain about the music itself, the vocals are hit-or-miss at times, which is bound to leave the listener either intrigued or utterly frustrated. Once an improvement in the vocal department takes place, SINPHONIA will not fail in finding their way into the hearts of those in need of some dark Progressive Metal heavy in atmosphere and brooding melody. However, if the vocals remain unchanged, SINPHONIA will most likely remain weighed down by mediocrity. Which path should SINPHONIA take? Listen to "The Divine Disharmony" and judge for yourself. (Online May 21, 2003)