Ad Infinitum – Chapter I: Monarchy

Ad Infinitum album cover

We feel it’s time to inject some much-needed symphonic power metal into the pages of Scream Blast Repeat in the form of the latest project from Melissa Bonny of Rage Of Light. Born out of a desire to showcase her love of the much-maligned genre, her latest work is based on the reign of Louis XVI. But will this album be treating the peasants to cake or heading for the guillotine?

The album starts strongly with ‘Infected Monarchy. It’s a layered opening with the obligatory mournful strings before the band usher in a minor key piano refrain. The sultry tones of Melissa Bonny drift over the soundscape like a murmuration of starlings swathing a dusk sky. We are on familiar power metal ground with the riffs interacting with the symphonic elements in the manner of mid period Within Temptation. Early album highlight, ‘Marching On Versailles,’ follows with a guitar driven thrust and a rousing chorus that makes you want to join the band in the storming of the Bastille. At the midpoint, you’ll hear shades of Alissa from Arch Enemy as Bonny showcases her versatility as a vocalist. She excels on the cleans, yet delivers harsh vocals with passionate vigour. 

The strength of the album becomes apparent as the record progresses; earworms and hooks are plentiful in the phenomenal chorus writing. ‘See You In Hell’ is the first ballad and is an absolute stonker. Bonny delivers an epic chorus with perfect annunciation and a consistent level of technical dexterity that continues throughout the record. 

Of course, Bonny is the obvious star of the show with her powerful delivery and the playfulness of her vocal timbre. She sticks to her crystalline cleans on this album but is adept at the harsh vocals when needed. Yet credit should also go to Adrian Theßenvitz, who delivers strong leads throughout the album and drives the recording with his technical rhythm work. The acoustic bonus tracks also reveal his prowess on classical guitar. Niklas Müller’s drum work is subtle and controlled, allowing the symphonics breathing space when necessary. His performance is the highlight of ‘I Am The Storm’ with its Hammerfall-esque double bass powered chorus. And lest we forget Jonas Asplind, whose bass is surprisingly prominent in the mix for this style of music.

The album lags slightly near the end with both ‘Revenge’ and ‘Demons’ feeling like Delain style fillers. However, ‘Tell Me Why’ is a sweet ballad with a cracking chorus that closes the album proper on a high. As for the bonus tracks, these are a worthwhile addition with acoustic and instrumental versions highlighting the layered background symphonics. You can make your own mind up whether the cover of Danny Elfman’s ‘This Is Halloween’ is any good.

This album will not win over the metal purists and may be somewhat saccharine for the tastes of some. However, the sublime song-writing will please those willing to venture outside their comfort zone, not least the modern metal production that offsets the need for brutality. Yes, the album is large in scale, but it never borders on the ridiculous. It’s also great to hear a multitude of riffs carrying the melodies as opposed to an over reliance on keyboards. 

Ad Infinitum have fired their first volley. This will not spark a revolution, but it may well be the finest power metal released this year so far.

KHH


Verdict


Release Date: 03/04/2020

Record Label: Napalm Records

Standout tracks: Marching On Versailles, Fire and Ice, See You In Hell

Suggested Further Listening: Epica – The Divine Conspiracy (2007), Kamelot – Silverthorn (2012), Within Temptation – The Unforgiving (2011)