Meteora – …of Shades and Colours Review

I can only imagine it’s daunting to form a new symphonic metal band. Arguably one of the most popular forms of metal, the scene is supersaturated with talent, and it often feels like the “greats” have already come, made their mark, and started to move on. Trying to make a dent in the sea of symphonic sanity is a huge task, but many are those who step up to try, and they all have my respect for it. The latest of their number I’ve come across is Meteora, who formed in 2010 in Hungary, with their debut release in 2017, and their third full-length, …of Shades and Colours, in 2022, right around now, actually. It’s an ambitious album, as it would have to be, but does talent match vision in this macabre story?

I’ll start with the latter category and say that Meteora absolutely do not lack for vision. Unfortunately, that’s one of the nicest things I can say about their album. Over the course of an hour and three minutes, the band treats the listener to orchestral extravaganzas, three duelling vocal styles (male, female, and harsh, naturally), and just enough power metal riffing to tick the “metal” box in their genre title. The whole emits a spirit of dark grandeur and is adventurous. It’s a big undertaking—…of Shades and Colours is filled with enough ideas to fill an album twice its runtime at least, which is saying something.

The problem is, that’s too many ideas, and, as a result, …of Shades and Colours feels hugely disjointed almost constantly. Several songs (“Slave of Creation” and “Voices Within,” to name a couple) have wild, technical guitar solos tacked on for seemingly no reason. The three vocalists trade lines almost haphazardly, often using harsh vocals where songs aren’t quite heavy enough for them to land (“Wings of Rebellion”). Meanwhile, the singing is at times, too laid-back (“Waking Nightmare”) and at others too intensely (“Immortal”). None of them are bad vocalists, mind, but the styles are all over the place, regardless of what the instruments behind them are working on.

As a result, the songs become, for the most part, unmemorable. A trademark of symphonic metal is its choruses, but most of the time I can’t even tell when I’m listening to Meteora’s choruses until they’ve repeated for the third time, because there’s just that much going on. Meteora, over ten proper songs (there are three orchestral interludes that don’t leave much impact, but do a good job at breaking up the album’s hour) have easily written enough music for twenty. But instead of editing down, it feels like they’ve mashed the ideas together, leaving no good melody behind. And I get that—I really do. But I wish this album had been edited down more, because there’s real potential behind every song.

And I want to speak to that potential, because there is real talent and vision behind …of Shades and Colours and it’s so easy to see what Meteora is aiming for. Their best songs are dark, brooding, and atmospheric; songs like “Slave of Creation,” with its simple strings and vocal back-and-forth verses are enjoyable. Elsewhere, “Pests” takes a noticeably slower approach to its riffs than the rest of the album and feels much heavier as a result. There’s a confidence to the song that works really well. The choral work here—and elsewhere, it’s employed very well throughout the album—is also a highlight, allowing the song to feel multidimensional and fresh, even as it clocks in over seven minutes. So there is good stuff here, moments dispersed throughout …of Shades and Colours that hint at Epica-esque highs that are, for the moment, out of reach.

I respect …of Shades and Colours a lot more than I enjoy it. Though this is Meteora’s third full-length release, it does feel very much like the work of a young band still trying to find their sound and distinguish themselves in a very crowded field. Hopefully, the band can continue to refine and work towards that goal, because there is potential here. But on the whole, …of Shades and Colours is doing too much too fast to leave a lasting impression on this hopeful reviewer. Still, I’ll keep an ear open for the next one—it may very well surprise me.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Releases Worldwide: September 2nd, 2022

« »