Desdæmona – Starcrossed
Album Review By Rainer Kerber
A few weeks ago, singer Anna Holtz started a Facebook fundraising campaign for the new single of her band Desdæmona. Of course, I also participated in it. This action brought back memories of the Voices of The Succubi Festival on Malta in 2017. There I was able to experience her live with her band. I was thrilled with the beginning of her bell-clear soprano voice.
Desdæmona were founded in 2011 in the lagoon city of Venice. As namesake apparently acted the lead female character in the Shakespeare tragedy “Othello, the Moor of Venice.” In 2013 a demo CD with two songs was released. Both songs can also be heard on the debut album “Starcrossed”, which was released three years later. Subsequently, however, there were tensions between the band members. So, you can read on the Facebook page. It came to the split. From the former cast only the singer and the bassist Mega are left. Three new members were found. Recently, Anna told me that the band is back in the studio to finalize the recordings for the second album. That was the reason for me to listen more intensively to the debut.
Yes, Desdæmona play symphonic metal. Of course, that means a lot of emphasis on orchestration. And yes, Metal also includes hard guitar riffs. They can also be heard here. And of course, the Italians have a singer with a bell-clear soprano. Of course, you can hear that on the CD better than live. But just with her singer Anna Holtz, the band also has a unique feature. Hardly any other singer puts so much vibrato in her voice. I noticed that already live and this is confirmed when listening to the album. And she has gathered high-profile musicians around her. Already with the opener “Cyprus” you can hear an excellent guitar solo. The drums set the pace, but without pushing too much into the foreground. And almost as a foundation, the bass boomes out of the speakers. Light and lively sounds “Iago”. Whether “Willow”, “My Magdalene” or “Nothing Lasts Forever”, the songs usually start with balladic introductions and then switch to mid-tempo later. This is how the vocal qualities of Anna are shown to best advantage. The album also features a “real” ballad with “Angels in Hell”. In the first half of the song, the singer is accompanied by strings. Later there will be a guitar solo again. One thinks the instrument is literally singing. Fair and beautiful! And the grand finale is followed by the hymnic “Shipwreck”. Once again Desdæmona show their flair for catchy but never cheesy melodies.
Many people consider the genre Symphonic Metal to be an obsolescent model. Three four big bands as top dogs and behind them tons of imitators. However, these do not include Desdæmona. They have found their own niche. The sound is fresh. Of course, they owe this largely to the vocal performance of Anna Holtz. But singing is not everything. Varied compositions, very good arrangements and masters of the instruments make “Starcrossed” to a very good album. I’m looking forward to the successor. Let’s hope that the changes in the lineup are not at the expense of quality. After all, you can get even more out of the songs with now two guitarists.
Pictures: © Desdæmona, Rainer Kerber Photography, Gigi Fratus (FG music photo)
Desdæmona – Angels In Hell: https://youtu.be/Y4R27lSMsPs
Anna Holtz – Soprano Vocals, Piano, Orchestra scoring
Teo Lost – Lead and Rhythm Guitar
Mega – Bass
Zack – Rhythm and Lead Guitar
Matz – Drums, Percussions
Mattia “Il Vanza” Vanzetto – Studio Partnership: Orchestra Sampling, Additional Guitar, Orchestral Arrangements
Label: Self released
Out: Summer 2016
Playing time: 46:24
- My Magdalene
- Nothing Lasts Forever
- Angels in Hell
- Leonore’s Gardens
- Invisible Thread
Rating : 8/10
MHF Magazine/Rainer Kerber