Album Review – ShadowIcon / Smoke & Mirrors EP (2015)

This Slovenian band proves an opera singer is not always needed to make great Symphonic Metal songs.

Rating5

SHADOWICON_SmokeMirrors_coverFounded in 2006 in Ljubljana, capital of the mysterious Slovenia, ShadowIcon possess the perfect features to make a Symphonic Metal band: heavy riffs, killer drums, powerful keyboards and orchestrations and a very talented and charismatic female vocalist. What makes them different from other Symphonic Power Metal bands we know is that the beautiful Ana Prijatelj Pelhan is not a lyric soprano like other European divas such as Tarja Turunen, Simone Simons or Floor Jansen. Instead, her vocals are a lot more Pop Rock than Metal, something closer to Gwen Stephani’s voice, which makes the whole difference in their sound.

After four years of the release of their debut album, Empire In Ruins, the band is releasing this year the EP Smoke & Mirrors, containing six tracks and with many special guests such as Sascha Gerstner, guitarist of Helloween; Stefan Schmidt, member of the a cappella metal band Van Canto; Olaf Senkbeil, guest studio musician of Blind Guardian; Betty Lenard contributing with backing vocals, among others.

shadowiconThe EP starts – and also ends – with the powerful and exciting (Now I See) Through a Mirror Darkly, full of imposing orchestrations and keyboards. The opening track also has a wonderful vocal duet between Ana and Sascha Gerstner, with its chorus being really catchy (which I consider one of the things that make a great metal song), and after days I have heard this song for the first time I was still singing “I’ll step into your dreams, I’ll find out where you’ve been, I’ll make you wish you were already dead”. The following track, If I Was the One, the first single of the EP (check its official video below), is a really nice track with several different layers, starting in a smooth way and ending a lot heavier. In addition, its backing vocals and keyboards are great, especially when combined with the guitar solos. By the way, the keyboards seem to be a crucial piece of their music, supporting all the heaviness and the drama throughout the EP.

The Edge is a good song, but not as heavy as the previous ones, just like The Beauty of a Rose, a very nice ballad which shows all the beauty of Ana’s voice – her vocals are definitely the highlights in both tracks – with an awesome work done in terms of backing vocals too. My Plea starts in a cool and calm way, with Ana singing accompanied only by a piano before all that symphonic thunder comes back, showcasing more heaviness and focusing a lot more on the guitar lines and orchestral moments than all previous songs. And finally, a version of (Now I See) Through a Mirror Darkly without Sascha closes this good EP. It is still a cool and intense song, but I hope during their live concerts one of the guys from the band can reproduce the amazing vocal duet with Ana because it really makes all the difference in the track.

Smokes & Mirrors is available on several online channels, such as iTunes, Amazon and others, being a solid preview of what can come next on their future full-length albums. Also, don’t forget to check their Facebook page for more news and updates: it’s indeed worthwhile to follow their growth and evolution, as ShadowIcon are a band that definitely proves Symphonic Metal is not a thing only for Northern European bands.

Best moments of the album: (Now I See)Through a Mirror Darkly and If I Was the One.

Worst moments of the album: The Edge.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. (Now I See) Through a Mirror Darkly (feat. Sascha Gerstner) 5:35
2. If I Was the One 3:42
3. The Edge 3:42
4. The Beauty of a Rose 4:54
5. My Plea 3:26
6. (Now I See) Through a Mirror Darkly (reprise) 5:35

Band members
Ana Prijatelj Pelhan – vocals
Tomaž Lovšin – guitars
Bojan Kostanjšek – guitars
Matej Ravšelj – bass
Peter Smrdel – keyboards
Žiga Ravšelj – drums

Guest musicians
Sascha Gerstner – additional vocals in “(Now I See) Through a Mirror Darkly”
Stefan Schmidt – vocal choirs
Olaf Senkbeil – backing vocals
Betty Lenard – backing vocals
Jeffery Hayat – additional orchestrations and programming
Matthias Ulmer – additional orchestrations and programming

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