I am very cautious when it comes to symphonic metal, because it can very easily end up being very, very cheesy. Specifically bands who blend symphonic metal with extreme metal have a tendency to come up with music that just does not appeal to me. However, despite the fact that I am not a big fan of symphonic metal, I know good symphonic metal when I hear it.
And Russian symph metallers Welicoruss’ 2008-album WinterMoon Symphony is definitely an instance of quality symhonic metal.
One of the main attractions to this album is the combination of symphonic metal with extreme metal, Slavic folk metal, and power metal. I know, this sounds like a potential cheese-fest, but it isn’t. Instead, Welicoruss deliver powerful metal tunes with lush keyboard arrangements as well as layers of symphonic effects combined with strong guitar riffs – some of which are aggressive and potent while others are melodic and appealing. There are also plenty of guitar leads and twin guitar harmonies, and this is not one of those albums where the guitars take the backseat which the keyboards and symphonic effects steal the limelight. Everything is quite well balanced on WinterMoon Symphony (my only beef here is that, in the blastbeat sections, the snare drum is virtually inaudible), and, weaving in and out of different passages, tempi and metal aesthetics the album even has a quite progressive character to it. Also, while featuring both harsh male vocals and clean female vocals, Welicoruss do not fall into the beauty-and-thebeast trap, as the female vocals tat are featured on the album are more of a traditional Russian character than the pseudo-operatic female vocals often head in beauty-beast metal.
Fans of symphonic metal who are interested in hearing a Russian take on the genre – which infuses Slavic music elements into it – should definitely check out this massively melodic yet metallically dark and evil release.