Ex Libris – ANN – Chapter 2: Anastasia Romanova
Album Review By Rainer Kerber
She has one of the most gifted voices in heavy metal, the Dutch singer Dianne van Giersbergen. With her enchanting voice, she sang two of the best albums of Xandria. After the split from the German Symphonic Metallers she revived her former band Ex Libris. So, they went back to their roots, the Progressive Metal, but with different bandmates. A successful crowdfunding campaign allowed the musicians to start an ambitious project, the three-part concept album “ANN”. The first part was published in the August of last year. The story of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII was told. In the now published second part, the musicians thematize the life of Anastasia Nikolayevna Romanova, thus the Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia, daughter of the last Russian emperor couple.
Although the pair of emperors had hoped for a son as heir to the throne after three daughters, they loved their 1901-born baby and were good parents. Anastasia was a fun-loving child and liked to do pranks. This can also be clearly heard in the musical realization “The Motherland”. Longing but above all happy melodies characterize this song. Russian folklore and choral passages are incorporated seamlessly here. You can literally hear the vastness of this great country. She had a close relationship with her younger brother Alexei. This one suffered from the blood disease “Hemophilia B”. He had inherited these from his mother. Often, only she managed to distract and cheer her brother. But she was in pain too, because of her back and foot problems. Of the diseases and the healing attempts are the much darker sounding “The Healer”. Finally, she screams out her pain.
As a result of the February Revolution, her father, was forced to abdicate as the last emperor of Russia in March 1917th First, the family was placed under house arrest in the Alexander Palace in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg). Later, the family was brought to Yekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk) for security reasons. There they were killed after the victory of the Bolsheviks (October Revolution) in July 1918. Anastasia was just seventeen years old. But contrary to the song title “The Exile”, the imperial family was not exiled, but imprisoned. Accordingly, the final song of this chapter sounds restless. He describes escape and hope. The exile legend persisted for many years and many women around the world claimed to be Anastasia Romanova over and over again. It was not until 2007 that it was possible to prove unequivocally that ANN had been dead for almost ninety years.
It is again that Ex Libris managed to implement a tragic woman’s fate musically sensitive into three songs. Also, on “ANN – Chapter 2: Anastasia Romanova” shows the singer DiANNe van Giersbergen impressive that she can empathize with the emotional life of this young woman. Depending on the theme folkloric melodies are heard again and again. This symbiosis with hard progressive metal is unique. I am curious to see which tragic fate will be discussed in the third chapter (late summer 2019).
Ex Libris – Exile: https://youtu.be/t2_-xa_KF8g
Dianne van Giersbergen – Vocals
Koen Stam – Synth & Keys
Bob Wijtsma – Guitars
Luuk van Gerven – Bass
Harmen Kieboom – Drums
Label: Self distributed
Out: March 15th 2019
Playing time: 20:38
- The Motherland
- The Healer
- The Exile
Rating : 9/10
MHF Magazine/Rainer Kerber