Insatia Phoenix Aflame | Album Review August 2017
Label: Pitch Black Records
Release Year: 2017
Genre: Progressive/Power Metal
Zoë Federoff – Vocals
Dave Ablaze – Bass
Kaelen Sarakinis – Guitars
Daniel Millan – Drums
Ivan Moni Bidin – Keyboards
Throughout my adventures into writing reviews of albums here at Power Of Prog, it is no secret that I do reviews on bands that are fronted by women. I believe that women have just as much a equal contribution into progressive rock, progressive metal and just music in general. Therefore when I met Insatia’s Zoe Marie Federoff on Facebook I was highly interested in their new release for 2017 Phoenix Aflame on Pitch Black Records. Insatia are a North American powerhouse with members from both the USA and Canada. Although they are from North America they provide the listener with a more European flavour of progressive power metal.
Insatia are like a Second Generation Nightwish meets Lacuna Coil with heavier power metal elements found in Blind Guardian, Avantasia and Gamma Ray. This is a type of band that could easily play a Female Metal Voices Festival and turn around and play at Wacken Open Air with the right circumstances. Now a little track by track analysis of Insatia’s Phoenix Aflame.
Intro Land Of The Living opens up almost in a traditional world music vocal. Zoe Federoff certainly channels the inner Enya with chat style vocals. Soon the rest of the band joins her and the vocals along with the instrumental half serve a heavily pastoral purpose.
Act Of Mercy transitions quite seamlessly and smoothly with a spoken word section before the instruments kick in again. With a mid range in speed the band utilizes various chord changes to craft together a balance of both progressive and power metal passages. The vocal echoes also are allowed to breathe where the listener can hear them come through. The chord progressions rest more in progressive metal than power metal in the latter parts of this track.
Memory Of A Sapphire explodes with a fury of strings between the really heavy rhythm guitar riffs and the beautiful crystallize keyboards of Ivan Moni Bidin. At times it sounds like a blend of Blind Guardian on the power metal end meets Vanden Plas on the progressive metal end. This is loaded with various guitar solos, rhythm guitar portions that are all anchored by the bass/drum rhythm section. Zoe Marie Federoff does a wonderful job here singing on perfect time to both the stringed sections and rhythm sections. Kaelen Sarakinis – Guitars really channels his inner Emppu Vuorinen (Nightwish) on the rhythmic side to the guitar.
Video Courtesy of : ( Pitch Black Records Official YouTube Channel )
Sacred opens up with a violin induced classical metal chord progression. This is soon accompanied by the crunchy raw rhythm guitar section. Soon the entire instrumental half kicks in and makes this a more neo classical delight. The rhythm section is very heavy handed while the keyboard lends a beautiful atmosphere perfect for a power metal style track. There are some progressive metal elements with various time signatures and frequent changes in the rhythmic section. The violin section adds a symphonic flare to the song a well.
We Are The Gray opens up with a nasty tuned down drum based rhythm section that is accented perfectly with a classical keyboard atmosphere to accompany it. The rhythmic portion of this one is very clean and easy to follow. The keyboard and other stringed atmospheres allow for actual emotion to come through and be shown. The band uses overdubbed backing tracks to really make the vocals feel warmer. The guitar solo is also allowed to breathe in its various stages.
Phoenix Aflame is obviously the namesake track to the entire album. It starts out with a furious fury of really heavy guitar chord progressions. The entire opening passage is seriously blistering. There is a beautiful Hammond Organ style keyboard running parallel to the blistering guitar and rhythm led passages. This is one of the heavier songs on the album. It is also very progressive in nature with various time changes and chord progressions much in the vein of Kamelot or SymphonyX . The bass really bleeds through as well.
Video Courtesy of: ( Pitch Black Records Official YouTube Channel )
Not My God starts off with a heavy classically based piano section. The opening really leads the listener into a very beautiful power ballad full of emotion. I stress ‘Power Ballad’ because it is both really heavy with the various progressions and very much a ballad at the same time. This is a more modern ‘Power Ballad’ instead of one you would find in 1980’s to early 1990’s AOR/Hard Rock. It rests more in a song like Kamelot’s The Haunting.
Captor And The Captive is another song that opens up with a lush classical piano melody much like a ‘Power Ballad’. Soon it opens up much like a heavy progressive metal chord progression. I hear a lot of influence from a Dream Theater’s Another Day at the start. Soon this levels out into more of a power metal melody that is met with a light pop sensibility. This is a ‘Gateway’ song for a newer listener or fan to power metal or progressive metal. This is a song that is excellent for live sets to draw more newer fans as well is retaining the current fan base.
Velvet Road opens up with a beautiful acoustic passage that is met with very angelic vocal inspired opening passage. This song reminds me a lot of what you would hear out of the singer-songwriter community. This has a beauty about it due to its unplugged nature. This also allows the lyrical story to be front and center due to its unplugged nature and emotion. This even has a 16th Century Renaissance style about it.
Healer Of Hatred starts off with a very blistering opening chord progression. This is also the final track on the album. The band does a great job with this finale to Phoenix Aflame. This is blistering straight away neo classical power metal in its very essence. With heavy charging rhythm guitars that follow beautiful drum blast beats this is a true headbanging tour de force on all levels. The rhythm section in harmony to the guitar solos add to the beautiful atmosphere to this song.
There is obviously no doubt that Insatia have all the tools and talent for a steadfast career in this style of heavy progressive power metal. With the right promotional mechanism and time they will be major players on the world scene. They are also proof that this kind of metal will be around for at least another generation to come. Another thing that I like about this album was that the band made it short and sweet and to the point. That is something they will benefit from due to this being a sophomoric effort. Considering all this I give Insatia’s Phoenix Aflame a very strong 4.75/5 .