On the 24th of April 2020, Australian Symphonic Metal artist, Victoria K, released her debut album entitled ‘Essentia’. Victoria K joined forces with growler Sheri Vengeance, guitarist Julia Mammone, bassist Martin Kawaler and drummer James Davies to make a wonderful piece of art. The album also featured Michalina Malisz (Eluveitie) on fifth track, Shroud of Solitude.
Few days ago we published our interview with Victoria K where she spoke about her then upcoming album and other things we asked her about. Click here to read the interview.
And now we’re happy to publish this review for ‘Essentia’ by Victoria K.
One scale where on the quality of music can be measured is through its durability. Some artists rise to record-breaking peaks, then fall and become forgotten. On the other hand, there are artists that make music that is immortal and is still be listened to after years and decades. These artists shatter the walls between what people call eras. For example, I was born in 1992, and the song Fear of the Dark by Iron Maiden (all hail) was also born in 1992. And while many songs that peaked at top 1 in my lifetime have completely disappeared from people’s memories, Fear of the Dark, after 27 years is still a go to song for many Metal fans and a song that would be enjoyable for people getting into Metal.
Why am I saying this? Well, because I believe that if Victoria K keeps rising like she is right now, people born in 2020 will one day grow up into Metal fans and enjoy songs like Forsaken, The Haunting and Lacuna like they were the release of the year.
And this explains the first thing we loved about ‘Essentia’:
Music that doesn’t wear off with time..
Now someone would ask: “The album was release four days ago for goodness sake. How can you tell it won’t wear off with time?” It is simple. One does not have to wait for years to determine if a song or album will lose its excitement. The key factor to determine that is the complexity of the music. And indeed, ‘Essentia’ is an album that will only grow with time in terms of appreciation. Some factors behind this complexity is in the other reasons we loved ‘Essentia’ for. Here are they:
Richness in contrasts
Just like doctors recommend food rich with Vitamin C, we recommend music rich with contrasts, to help fight the flu of boredom. (Damn I took this analogy too far). And that is exactly what ‘Essentia’ does through many contrasts. We will not talk about contrasts that come with the genre, such as the one between the orchestral instruments and Metal instruments, but we will mention what we loved about how Victoria used them throughout her album.
First, there is an obvious contrast between Victoria K, the vocalist leaning towards an operatic and classical voice, and Sheri Vengeance, a growler with thunderous vocals. What I loved about Sheri’s addition to the album is the times Sheri was singing behind Victoria’s vocals such as in Forsaken. Her singing seemed like a harsh echo of the leading vocals, adding complexity and a heaviness to the work.
Second, is a contrast in Victoria K‘s own singing. A perfect way to understand this quality is through the song The Haunting. Compare Victoria’s voice where she starts to sing on the 45th second of the song and how it falls into the music and follows it softly, and the shift that takes place on the 1:24 mark when the music gets heavier and faster. And then the other shift into a lower whispering-like singing voice on 2:10. Simply brilliant, and again adding value and richness to the album!
Consistency in quality
Okay, songs like Forsaken, The Haunting, and Matrix, and the already established hit, Lacuna, are probably the best songs on ‘Essentia’. But never did the 10-tracks-album suffer from a decreasing slope in quality of the songs. None of the songs felt like a time-filling one, and each and every song could have been made into a single.
And our favourite song on the album is Matrix. (Winning 2-1 in votes) Matrix, coming after Forsaken, just when you think the album can’t get any better, plays the role of a perfect showcase for Victoria’s magnificent voice and the ranges she can sing at. The music is a perfect ongoing symphony behind heavy guitars and drums, with a wonderful growling bridge. Great song. So happy it has its own music video.
In summary, ‘Essentia’, just like Apollo 11, which carried humans into space, will carry Victoria K to heights in the Metal scene. However, unlike Apollo 11, which was discarded piece after piece during the mission until nothing was left, ‘Essentia’ is a time-defying album due to its richness and complexity that will be on playlists and music libraries for a very long time. Well done Victoria!
Note: Since the 21st of April, we have changed the procedure in which we rate albums, and thus the new rates might be lower than what they could have been following our older procedure. The albums we previously reviewed will be re-rated following the same procedure in time.
The FemMetal Team has given the album the following rates: