Words: Craig Hartranft
Darkyra Black, otherwise known as vocalist Gina Bafile, made quite the impression upon the female-fronted melodic symphonic metal genre with last year's Dragon Tears. Though not my first go-to genre, I liked it and said so in my review. Ms. Bafile returns with her second album, via Athens and many European musicians, Fool.
The album basically picks up where the previous left off. It's another concept album about, in the words of Bafile, "the people seen come and go at the fountain of wishes, the fountain built for kings and queens of the past. The songs are a behind the scenes look into their lives and their foolish obsessions." Sounds rather nebulous to me. I'm guessing the CD booklet and lyrics may be necessary to catch the meaning.
The album is also another powerhouse of melodic symphonic metal, of some cinematic quality. The entire album, the Darkyra Black sound, is large and expansive led, of course, by Bafile's demonstrably strong and versatile voice. One of the best aspects of their sound is that Bafile doesn't depend upon, nor pigeon hole herself, into a certain style. She swings easily from the basic rock singer to the operatic diva. I don't know about you, but I get tired of the screechy 80 octave range of the latter.
After this, Bafile knows how to put together some musically interesting songs. It's unclear as to whether she composes or arranges the music alone. I suspect she has an "ace-in-the-hole" with the large musician cast and production staff to help her along. Of particular interest are those songs where all the bombastic symphonic metal gets merged with some hard rock groove and accessibility like Who Are They To Judge You, Truth Or Dare, or The Wish That Never Fades. That last song is an example of Bafile's blended voice, becomeing the operatic rock singer. And while most songs feature her voice, some songs seem led entirely so. One is Flawless, if not in the first half, before combined with riffs and groove. Another is Desperation, which has her voice with piano sparring with large crashing riffs and orchestra elements. Not to give away the whole, but a final song of interest is Bleed. It offers those immense riffs and symphonic elements but turns on some subtle piano and a catchy refrain in the first. Then in the latter half, with Bafile in duet with a male vocalist where that melodic chorus broadens. This, in turn, is followed by a very traditional hard rock guitar solos. It's easily one of my favorite songs.
I suppose, for some, the question remains, Is Fool better than it's predecessor? The answer is probably that it's a continuation of the same. The melodic symphonic music will always be the context for Bafile and Darkyra Black and, in this sense, they do it very, very well. Alternatively, as in the past and present, all things in the future will likely be the same. So far, so good.
Gina Bafile and her Darkyra Black project continue their foray into melodic and symphonic metal, nearly cinematic in style, with exceptional, yet expected, results.
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