So let’s talk about an album that came into my life recently. Singer Anna KiaRa released her debut solo disc Storyteller earlier this month, and I have been enjoying it thoroughly ever since. Interviewing her earlier this summer only made me want to hear it more, and I can definitely say I am not disappointed. Handling all the writing and arranging herself, Miss KiaRa has an ear for good melodies, with an excellent voice to match. Also of note is the fact that many Symphonic Metal singers tend to go with an over-the-top vocal delivery that at times sounds operatic. And that drives me fucking crazy; it’s basically showing off. Thankfully, Anna KiaRa does NOT do that, much to my relief. That’s not to say there isn’t power in her voice, because there sure is!
After only one spin I knew that the tracks “Loneliness”, “Viking”, and “Curse” would be among my favorites, with “Viking” being the undisputed champion in my eyes/ears. All three have sick guitar riffs along with very nice symphonic elements that don’t drown out said guitars. They merely add melody, atmosphere, and enhancement to already well-arranged tracks. When she takes things down a notch, like with “First Love”, the results clearly speak for themselves. This one was another instant winner for yours truly, by the way. I found it curious that she opened the album with a full-length instrumental number “Cold Space Dust.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s a kickass tune, but it caught me off guard is all.
There’s a marching quality to “Sacred Promise” while “Birth and Death” takes us from the calm and serene to heavier waters in the second half. Closing the record is “Broken Illusions” which has an opening guitar lead that I find myself humming for hours every time I put it on. The track ratchets up the intensity ever-so-slightly as we go and this push and pull between verse and chorus works nicely. Another thing I truly like is that there are four songs also done in Anna’s native Russian. Obviously I don’t speak it, but I love the way the lyrics sound, especially on “Loneliness.”
All told I was very impressed with Storyteller. It’s perfect music for when you’re kicking around the house (like we have a choice to go anywhere??), or driving to work, or listening at work. I know not everyone has that option, but I am fortunate in that I can. That’s where I’ve tuned in more often than not. Anna KiaRa has delivered an album she should be very, very proud of. And she did so without any of the clichés that befall many a Symphonic Metal release these days. Bravo!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “First Love”, “Loneliness”, “Viking”, “Curse”, “Broken Illusions”