After releasing the album début with new singer Dianne van Giersbergen last year, Xandria is releasing a new EP titled Fire & Ashes. With only 7 tracks on it (3 new songs, 2 re-recording classics, and 2 covers) it gives us an insight into Xandria’s developing sound, and how they are adjusting their past to this new era for the band.
Fire & Ashes opens with Voyage Of The Fallen a song that is perfectly tied to the style the band shows us in their latest album Sacrificium (2014), a more symphonic style filled with great orchestrations that highlight the great vocal work of Dianne van Giersbergen, but also reveals a bit more of the symphonic/power metal side of the band. Unembraced, comes off as a more symphonic/gothic metal song with pieces of electronic sounds here and there that fit the symphonic parts of the song, this track is particularly catchy as the guitar riffs and drum parts carry the whole song from beginning to end,
In Remembrance, is more of a symphonic ballad which brings the soft piano & guitar parts to a whole new level, and together with Dianne‘s sweet voice it adds passion and emotion of the EP. If this is a tease of Xandria‘s upcoming album, I want to put down my pre-order now. Fire & Ashes continues with the cover of Meat Loaf‘s I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That), It’s interesting to see how this song sounds on a woman’s voice, especially a classic trained vocalist like Dianne van Giersbergen. Her voice brings a new perspective to this song.
The EP continues with the inclusion of two classic Xandria songs re-arranged & re-recorded to fit the band’s new musical style, Ravenheart, which originally appeared on the 2004 album under the same name, Ravenheart. Without abandoning the original structure of the song itself, this new version of delivers a more stylish sound, filled with more operatic parts that not only fit the band’s style but also Dianne‘s voice shows us a new approach to the band’s classic song. The other re-recorded song is Now & Forever from the 2005 album India, A song that again keep the structure of the original, but it got a bit more heavy and more fresh, the vocal style, and the arrangements brings a new set of feelings to this song. I hope they include this track as a regular on their live setlist.
Closing up Xandria decides to pay tribute to Finnish power metal band Sonata Arctica with whom they toured the US last year by covering the song Don’t Say A Word from their 2004 album Reckoning Night. It’s interesting to see how Dianne channels Tony Kakko’s vocal harmonies on this song, the symphonic arrangements will throw some people off, but Xandria succeeds on keeping the song faithful to the original, but adding some from their very own style to the mix.
The Age Of Metal had the chance to speak with front-woman Dianne van Giersbergen about this EP, the band’s memories of their US tour almost a year ago, their upcoming tour with Powerwolf, and what is next for Xandria.
The Age Of Metal : What is the idea behind Fire & Ashes?
Dianne van Giersbergen : Well,we wanted to provide our audience with a little snack between albums, from Sacrificium of course, which was my debut album with the band, and we are working on a new album, but in between we wanted to have a couple new songs, but also some older songs that need to be lifted into the now because Xandria did a sound change when Neverworld’s end came out, and we also had the opportunity now because it was an EP and we had to do some fun stuff, to do this covers.
TAOM : the new songs included on this EP (Voyage of The Fallen, Unembraced & In Remembrance) will reappear on the new album or they will be exclusively contained on this EP?
DVG : Yes, this songs were especially written for this EP
TAOM : Is there any connection between this songs and the material on the new album?
DVG : When you listen the EP now, you will listen that we as band had progressed and our sound has become more bolder, and I think that you can expect the album to even be a step further.
TAOM : now the re-recordings of Now & Forever & Ravenheart were motivated because people wanted to hear those songs, or a more internal reason within the band?
DVG : A bit of both actually, but mostly we re-recorded this because this are good party songs, which are well received among our live audience, but they were not up to our standards anymore, the sound was still from the recordings which were done almost 10 years ago, and like I said before, when Neverworld’s end came out the band really moved to a new era, so sound wise this two songs, because we wanted to play them live had to be modified with our new sound.
TAOM : So, we will see this songs floating between live sets here and there?
DVG : Oh yes, you can truly expect that.
TAOM : There is also a couple of cover songs (Don’t Say A Word by Sonata Arctica, and I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) by Meat Loaf) where the idea to cover this songs came from?
DVG : For us this idea really came up when we all share a love for Meat Loaf‘s songs, so when he had the opportunity to do a cover version, we immediately knew that it had to be one of his songs.
TAOM : Almost a year ago Xandria toured the US for the first time, looking back at that, how do yo remember that experience?
DVG : What can I say, it was six weeks and we had 36 shows, so we were quite busy. But I only had really good memories of this.
TAOM : Are there any ideas or plans for Xandria to come back to the US again?
DVG : We would love that very much, but unfortunately there is nothing I can tell you that has been schedule yet.
TAOM : Xandria is about to go on tour with Powerwolf, Orden Ogan & Civil War, what are the expectations for this tour?
DVG : We of course are ready to promote our new EP Fire & Ashes. Powerwolf is more into the power metal genre of course, you will notice that on this EP also our sound have a power metal vibe, so I guess we are ready to also show our music to their audience and see who also fall in love with that.
TAOM : With that in mind, are you guys planning on playing that Sonata Arctica cover for this tour?
DVG : Maybe, who knows (laughs)
TAOM : I remember last year when we talked about the state of Ex Libris, forwarding to 2015, where is Ex Libris now?
DVG : Well, with Ex Libris we had to reform so we had to exchange some members, and at the moment we have a brand new line up, three new members are ready to start, and we are very busy rehearsing our new songs, because we want to master them first as a band before we hit the stage.
TAOM : I understand that this new Xandria EP is a work between albums, but what can you tell us about the upcoming album?
DVG : We are on the studio writing new songs, we are working together with composer Joost Van Den Broek who has also produced our EP and has done Sacrificium and the arrangements for Neverworld’s End, we share the same vision and there is quite some material for the new album, but nothing that I can reveal at this time.
TAOM : What is next for Xandria after this tour with Powerwolf?
DVG : I think you all will soon be able to read that on our webpage, we have a lot of things schedule, and there are a lot of invitations coming our way, so we are very excited for that, and we are looking forward to tour the world again this year also.
TAOM : Thank you Dianne for the time, good luck with the EP.
DVG : Thank you for the interview.