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Secret Illusion: Awake Before The Dawn
Secret Illusion - Awake Before The Dawn CD Album Review

Secret Illusion: Awake Before The Dawn

Melodic/Heavy/Power Metal

After a four year absence, Greece's Secret Illusion returns with their third long player, Awake Before The Dawn on the Lion Music label. Since the last self-published album, 2014's Change Of Time, Secret Illusion has brought on a new keyboard player, Evmenios Poulias, and a new vocalist with Vasilis Axiotis (ex-Phantom Lord, ex-Perpetual, ex-Persona Non Grata).

Secret Illusion Band Photo

Secret Illusion

To describe Secret Illusion, they basically play melodic heavy power metal with progressive metal nuances. By comparison, Secret Illusion reminds me of Finland's Stratovarius, notably in the guitar and keyboard parts, but also in the melodic, sometimes speedy, arrangements. After this, my attention was drawn to the new additions, keyboard player Evmenios Poulias and vocalist Vasilis Axiotis.

To the former, Poulias has an immediate presence throughout this album. First, he assisted founder and guitarist Filippos Papakyriakou in the song creation. Second, his keyboards offer both texture and atmosphere to all the songs, but also rise in solos. This is often found in a tandem fashion with Papakryiakou's guitars. In both instances, the musicians gel quite nicely.

As for Axiotis's voice and vocal style, my opinion is bifurcated. On one hand, I simply didn't like the timbre of his voice, something between warble and screamo especially when he's reaching for higher notes. And then I think, this guy can't sing. On the other hand, when he dials back on that, offering some moderation, he can sound smooth and melodic. Frankly, I miss previous vocalist Dimitris Giannakopoulos. In the end, I was impressed by and enjoyed more the music of Secret Illusion and Awake Before The Dawn, then I did Axiotis' vocal contribution.

And there's many good tunes across Awake Before The Dawn. You have some straight up speedy power metal with Fall Of Humankind and the ambitious Hope Is Lost. Alternatively, Sailing The Open Sea has a symphonic opening, and turns on a more moderate pace. The synth orchestration continues to have a large part, and Papakyriakou's delivers a killer solo. But the more interesting songs may be the final two songs Eerie and Awake Before The Dawn as they reflect some progressive metal nuances. The former has a power metal structure from the start, yet with an early light breakdown with voice, piano, and bass, before ripping into the speed at the midpoint. The title track relies less upon power metal and more upon melodic metal with various lighter segues. Before the midpoint, there's voice over synth orchestration and drums; after the halfway point, it's voice over piano and synths. Then all things lead to another crushing guitar solo. Both songs are also examples of how Axiotis can be smooth, melodic, and enjoyable to hear.

All in all, despite some reservations with the vocals, Secret Illusion's Awake Before The Dawn is another impressive and entertaining album of melodic power metal from this talented band. Recommended. - New fiction, crime fiction by Craig Hartranft

The Bottom Line

Despite some reservations with the vocals, Secret Illusion's Awake Before The Dawn is another impressive and entertaining album of melodic power metal from this talented band. Recommended.

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