Fallen Arise – Enigma Review

Oh symphonic metal, how I’ve cherished thee all these years. You embody everything that I love about metal. The versatility. The drama. The tingles that shock my spine in the most glorious manner. The contrast between the heavy and the soft woos me sweetly into your embrace. Though I sometimes spend quite some time apart from your lush sonic emanations, the affection I have for your siren song remains strong as ever. And yet, you betray me. Not merely once or twice, but often and without remorse. Countless times I’ve caught you stealing away with basic genre tropes, plastic tones and stale tunes. It vexes me to no end that even still, I stay faithful to you, having fallen hopelessly to your wiles so long ago. But at some point even the Fallen Arise. Join me as I confront my own Enigmatic dedication to a genre so ruthlessly hell-bent on it’s own self-destructive behavior.

If a sonic description of Greece’s Fallen Arise you require, too bad. The genre has been so deeply saturated since 1998-9’s Oceanborn that if you, dear readers, don’t know what you’re about to hear right now, it’s your own fault. Symphonic metal has its suave leaders with consistently recognized output (Nightwish, Epica, Kamelot, and others) and countless ill-fated misfits who struggle to forge steel worth wielding (Wildpath) or to gain much-deserved traction (Factory of Dreams1). Fallen Arise deliver the least differentiated material from this stock that I’ve ever heard, and thus third full-length Enigma seals its own fate beneath six barren feet of bland instrumentation and hackneyed execution.

In an effort to remain positive, I must make note of the things Enigma does right. First and foremost is the production. Guitars sound like real guitars; the bass is consistently ample and full; and the balance struck between symphonics, vocals, and metallics hits the ever-elusive sweet spot. Every symphonic record should sound like this one, with enough room for all the instruments to wax and wane as they naturally would. Kudos, Fallen Arise and relevant production personnel on your rational and apt production choices. Moving on, the second strength this band possesses is an excellent, if underused, drummer. Marios K. consistently carries songs as best as he can, specializing in fun fills that litter brief flashes of excitement across the record. Lastly, the band exhibits a strong sense of self-editing, limiting song length to a taut six minute max and overall album length to forty-six minutes. That makes the record a low-risk time investment and is stronger for it.

Sadly, these saving graces aren’t graceful enough to save the dullest symphonic metal record I’ve heard in years. Lead single “Reborn” is a perfect encapsulation of everything wrong with Enigma, from the trite pop-centric riffs to the very last awkward lyric. Memorability comes at a premium, and originality is nonexistent. “Embers” has a catchy chorus, for example, but it clearly rips off the general style of After Forever’s vastly superior self-titled swansong and it frustrates me to no end. In fact, Enigma very much resembles After Forever in terms of its sing-along structure, rendered at the quality of After Forever’s horrible debut Prison of Desire, and further debased by competent growls that simply don’t fit. The final three tracks offer the greatest potential—”Forever Winter,” “Horizon,” and closer “The Storm Inside”—yet further drive home the fact that Fallen Arise should be capable of much more. “Forever Winter” feels like it could’ve been an epic adventure, and it’s the only place where the harsh vocals help, but it needs better metal to complement its seafaring symphonics. Inversely, the closer features the first and last good-ish riff of the day, but it was used on the most awkward song on record. Lastly, “Horizon” is absolutely gorgeous, with a standout performance from main vocalist Fiona Creaby, but it would have three times the impact if surrounded by material of equal merit.

Alas, I’m left with the unpleasant task of throwing a red flag on the field. Fallen Arise claim to offer a fresh entry into the symphonic metal arena, and though the musicians are competent and professional, their output here is not up to scruff. Enigma is a pale imitation of a genre plagued by mimicry and overall lack of imagination. The world deserves better.

Rating: 1.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Rock of Angels Records
Websites: facebook.com/fallenarise | fallenariseofficial.com
Releases Worldwide: April 10th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. Seriously, go on Spotify and check out Melotronical.
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