Victoria K- Essentia
Release Date: 24/04/2020
Running Time: 36:17
Review by Tsarina Wilson
Wow, well this is what I call a good start to my day by listening and being able to review the album “Essentia” by Australian band Victoria K. I then decided to check out some of their videos on YouTube and no wonder they have such a great reputation…
The Melbourne singer/songwriter first released her debut single ‘Monster’ in 2016 featuring guitar work by John Farnham band member Brett Garsed along with her 2019 follow up track ‘Lacuna’, this was distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Warner Music Group (Australia) and was the lead single off this album. This track gained a great amount of interest and media praise creating an opportunity for Victoria K to support Swiss folk metal giants Eluveitie for their May 2019 date in Melbourne. This was received so well the crowd were chanting for an encore. (That one I totally understand)
The idea was for a solo project, but this has developed into the current band structure with each member bringing their own energy, presence and skills to the project
Victoria K added; “I really hope that when our fans and new listeners hear the album, they can all find something they can connect with on a deeper level (Oh yes, I have definitely found that). Whether that connection is found from within the music itself or from specific lyrics, I really hope they find something familiar, which can connect them to some experience they have had, invoking memories and feelings, eliciting an emotional response”
Whilst Victoria K’s talented songwriting and compositional influences include Evanescence, Within Temptation, Nightwish and Kamelot amongst others, they have also racked up hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube with their own creations. They have also covered such songs as ‘The Trooper’ (Iron Maiden) and ‘Nothing Else Matters’ (Metallica) and after checking these out the word ‘wow’ just doesn’t seem enough of a description for this band
Okay, back to “Essentia” (which is Latin for ‘essence’)! I could say it starts of gently then builds into a great album, but I can’t lie…it starts off in epic fashion and keeps going all the way through with no let up. With, what seem like, effortless and crystal-clear vocals, but with an immense amount of power Victoria K shines. Yes, you can kind of hear the influences of Nightwish and Kamelot etc, but Victoria K definitely, and collectively, makes this style their own. Apart from Victoria K the band (on the album) consists of Extreme Vocals from Sheri Vengeance (Black Like Vengeance, ex Ne Obliviscaris), who can be heard on three tracks, the aforementioned guitarist Brett Garsed, bassist Rich Panaia (except on the track ‘Lacuna’ where bass is provided by Chris Rourke), drummer Gerry Pantazis and keyboard, piano and synth man Lee Bradshaw. The Budapest Scoring Orchestra also make an appearance conducted by Zoltán Pad.
For those who have not seen any of the videos released for “Essentia” and were expecting the stereotypical band of a female lead singer, some metal looking guys in the background and a tattooed and grizzled looking bloke singing the extreme vocals, well, take a look and be as shocked as I was as theses vocals are sung by female Sheri Vengeance and ‘oh my god’ she is utterly amazing, it’s like Evanescence meeting Slipknot in a dark alley and it blows your mind, and eardrums, when listening to it through earphones…ouch. Memo to self, next time turn the volume down slightly!
‘Freedom Uncharted’ kicks the album off and it immediately makes you sit up and take notice, it’s hypnotic and then ‘Surreal’ hits you into next weekend. It has a Middle Eastern twist at its finale, and I was thinking ‘mmm, okay, what can they throw at me next’, only to be greeted by breath-taking track after breath-taking track, there seriously is no let up here. ‘Shroud Of Solitude’, which features Michalina Malisz from Eluveitie on Hurdy Gurdy, gives you a few minutes to catch your breath but it’s still outstanding! My favourite track has to be ‘Freaks’. It starts with keyboards that sound almost like a musical box then…boom, another track that hits you, once again, with a vocal range that is just so clear and powerful.
At no time do the guitars, bass or drums take anything away from the vocals but they are still so clear and blend seamlessly. There is so much emotion in all of the performances, things I can relate to and, hopefully, many others can as well, which is exactly what Victoria K wanted. The track ‘Humanity’ so needs to be used as an end film credit sequence. This song is so powerful and haunting and when you listen to it, you can feel/see the orchestra with the band standing out front (any film directors out there please listen and take note)! Another standout performance on the album is the drumming. Gerry Pantazis must have had smoke coming out of his kit in some places, man can that guy drum!
While we are on the subject of powerful and beautiful things, I have to talk about the album artwork. There has to be merchandise with this image on…please, and if/when there is, I will be getting some, wow just wow! It’s not every day you are blown away by such a great band. They have picked up everything conventional about this genre, thrown it out of the window and made it their own! Stereotypical? Hell no…talented? Hell yes…leaving you wanting more? Without a doubt!
01. Freedom Uncharted (Feat Sheri Vengeance)
03. Forsaken (Feat Sheri Vengeance)
04. Matrix (Feat Sheri Vengeance)
05. Shroud of Solitude (feat Michalina Malisz from Eluveitie)
06. The Haunting
08. Mist Filled
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