By Greg Maki
I can’t think of a worse time for a new act to make its debut than the spring of 2020. Swiss symphonic metal band Ad Infinitum released “Chapter I: Monarchy” (review) at the beginning of April, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and of course could do little to promote it. That didn’t stop the band from working, though, as an acoustic version of the album followed before the end of the year, and now, just shy of 19 months later, its sophomore record is here.
If “Chapter I” focused more on the metal side of the symphonic metal equation, “Chapter II: Legacy” is more interested in symphonic pursuits. So while it’s not as heavy, the album does benefit from an even greater emphasis on the vocals of frontwoman Melissa Bonny. Her way of singing seems almost effortless—though it surely isn’t—and she still has that bloodcurdling growl, her secret weapon, to whip out for added effect; see “Your Enemy,” “My Justice, Your Pain,” “Haunted” and “Lullaby”—it’s hardly a coincidence that these are the record’s strongest, most dynamic songs.
Like its predecessor, “Chapter II” draws inspiration from a historical figure. This time, it’s Vlad the Impaler, the 15th century ruler of Romania and basis of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” As with the first record, “Chapter II” is not a concept album that tells a story from beginning to end. Rather, songs pull from different parts of their subject’s life and “afterlife,” exploring the paradox of a man who remains a Romanian national hero in spite of the barbarous acts he committed and is most associated worldwide with vampires. Given what we know of the man himself—and a legacy that has carried on for centuries—I feel like the subject matter might have called for music that’s more aggressive than what we get here.
To be clear, there isn’t a bad song among the dozen that comprise “Chapter II.” It’s my personal expectation more than anything else that has me ranking this record a notch or two below “Chapter I”—which is my problem, not yours. I just was looking for something with—to use a technical term—a little more “oomph.” But that won’t stop me from giving this album quite a few plays and eagerly anticipating “Chapter III” of the Ad Infinitum story.
Napalm Records – October 29, 2021
Buy “Chapter II: Legacy”