Published on August 10th, 2016 | by Justin G.0
Guitarist/composer/producer Victor Smolski (ex-Rage, ex-Lingua Mortis Orchestra) launched a new project earlier this year titled Almanac. It’s a symphonic power metal group featuring a trio of very impressive singers: David Readman (Pink Cream 69, ex-Voodoo Circle), Andy Franck (Brainstorm, Symphorce) and Jeanette Marchewka (ex-Lingua Mortis Orchestra). If you’re thinking “hey, that sounds like Avantasia with fewer singers,” you’re not wrong. And that’s not a bad thing at all.
Tsar is Almanac’s first album, and it’s a concept album focusing on the historical figure Ivan the Terrible. It makes for a suitably epic story to match this very powerful, very epic album. Smolski has written a larger than life metal album that takes advantage of his singers’ distinct voices as well as capturing both the heaviness and melody you look for in a power metal album and the symphonic, bombastic elements of a good concept album. It doesn’t hurt that he turns in some completely dazzling guitar work here.
The vocals are what put this already excellent album over the top. Readman’s performance alone would be worth the price of admission. So would Franck’s. Having them both on the same album is power metal bliss. Marchewka has a smaller role, but also sounds fantastic.
Since it is a concept album, Tsar works best as a cohesive whole. It does have its share of standout tracks though, like “Self-Blinded Eyes,” “No More Shadows” and “Reign of Madness.” For the most part, the songs hover around the 6-minute mark, so they have a big presence without ever dragging on.
If Avantasia hadn’t released their amazing Ghostlights album earlier, Tsar would be THE symphonic metal album of 2016. It’s definitely a close second, and one of the best all-around power metal albums you’re likely to hear this year. Fans of Smolski’s work in Rage and especially Lingua Mortis Orchestra will definitely need to check out Almanac. Fans of epic/symphonic/power metal in general (especially fans of Readman and Franck) will also enjoy Tsar.
Summary: So it's the second best symphonic metal album of 2016...that's still pretty impressive.