This German symphonic metal act has been plying their trade since releasing their debut album in 2003 called Kill The Sun. They are no newcomers to their craft, but with this 6th studio opus they confronted the challenging circumstances of bringing in a new face; a new voice; the lead vocalist Dianne van Giersbergen. This can sometimes inject a new fresh energy and dynamic which only goes to enhance a bands output, but occasionally it can derail the juggernaut which has become synonymous with quality.
Current times are providing a very busy highway for female-fronted gothic/symphonic metal right now with new releases from Leaves’ Eyes, Within Temptation, Delain, Elysion, Lacuna Coil and Diabulus in Musica amongst others. It makes you wonder if the band were checking their rear-view mirror as they recorded this album witnessing the quality and general activity from these other high-profile artists. Thankfully if this was the case, then perhaps they raised their game to compensate. Xandria have encompassed drama, quality, hook-laden sections, bombast and symphonic splendor to new heights with Sacrificium.
Breaking the silence, Sacrificium starts with the epic ten and a half minutes of the title track which slaps the ears about leaving the listener generally exhausted. Nightfall follows in enthusiastic and energetic fashion setting the skies alight with choirs and soaring hooks. To sit motionless throughout such a performance can only be achieved if your pulse is dormant. Dreamkeeper rolls out their restrained side for the verses and then unleashes an evident chorus to pillage the clouds above.
With the listener likely to be on the floor clenching their heart as adrenaline and power continue to abuse their ears; Stardust complete with a truly breathtaking finale, Betrayer cranking out riff after riff in conjunction to choirs of leather-clad angels, and the Celtic throb of Temple of Hate complete with sporadic majestic attack, all showcase a band full of zest and urgency.
Sacrificium contains moments of fragility, power and ultimately focus, as the quintet goes about their business efficiently. This album shows a creative growth and a positively defined clinical execution of the material they have brought to the table. If you thought the success of their previous studio album Neverworld’s End was impressive, witness the inevitable acknowledgement that will applaud and echo around the globe when ears are exposed to the huge sound on offer and the bands performances with Sacrificium.