Stream Of Passion – The Flame Within (2009)

streamofpassion_flame

Stream Of Passion – The Flame Within (2009, Napalm Records)

  1. The Art Of Loss
  2. In The End
  3. Now Or Never
  4. When You Hurt Me The Most
  5. Run Away
  6. Games We Play
  7. This Endless Night
  8. My Leader
  9. Burn My Pain
  10. Let Me In
  11. Street Spirit
  12. A Part Of You
  13. All I Know
  14. Far And Apart (U.S. bonus track)

Stream of Passion 2009

Band Lineup:
Marcela Bovio – Vocals, Violins
Eric Hazebroek – Guitars
Stephan Schultz – Guitars
Johan van Stratum – Bass
Jeffrey Revet – Keyboards, Piano
Davy Mickers – Drums

Producers: Jochem Jacobs, Joost Van Den Broek, Stream Of Passion

Country: The Netherlands

Total Time = 59:19

Stream Of Passion
Stream Of Passion MySpace page
Napalm Records

I discovered Stream Of Passion back in 2007 when I read a quick newsbit that co-founder and Ayreon mastermind Arjen Lucassen had left the band. Being a fan of Ayreon and of Gothic/Symphonic Metal I decided that Stream Of Passion was a band I had to check out. Earlier this year, the band released THE FLAME WITHIN, their second studio album, and I had previewed some of the tracks online. I heard a similar sound to the late-’90s era of The Gathering so picking up this album the day it came out was a no-brainer.

So what is the Stream Of Passion sound? Think of some the different female fronted bands of this genre and you can get a quick idea, Stream Of Passion fits in perfectly with similar bands like Lacuna Coil, Leaves’ Eyes, Nightwish, The Gathering, Epica. What I like about the band’s overall sound is that they are able to use the beauty of Marcela Bovio’s voice along with their progressive and symphonic sound and still retain some heaviness and keep the most of the songs uptempo. The other key element is keeping the songs from running too long and sounding the same. The band has retained a Progressive Metal element to their music but the songs all range in duration from 4 to 5 minutes, a lot of times this type of music has longer songs but the extra minute or two can sometimes mean the difference between a good song and boredom.

The opening track, ‘The Art Of Loss’, starts out with a piano intro but kicks into an uptempo guitar heavy song. Right away I can hear the similarities between former The Gathering vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen and Lacuna Coil’s Cristina Scabbia…..pretty good company. There is a very good blend between the keyboards, orchestration and guitars on ‘The Art Of Loss’ and that translates into the rest of the album. ‘In the End’ is a lush mid-tempo song that spotlights Bovio’s voice and the beauty of the musical arrangement. ‘Now Or Never’ kicks back into a heavier guitar with the accompanying keyboards offering a perfect mix, I also like the multi-tracked background vocals Marcela laid down for the chorus. There is a piano & vocal interlude that build into the main chorus and it keeps the song soft and romantic as well as Metal. ‘When You Hurt Me The Most’ is a proper ballad that sounds very sad and emotional and is really only the vocal and piano with the rest of the band very subdued until the solo section where the music gains some power especially the guitar solo. The pattern repeats itself with ‘Run Away’, another true ballad that features only the vocal, piano and violin until the solo section towards the end when the rest of the band kicks back into gear.

‘Games We Play’ is another uptempo song that has a very heavy base with a great guitar and drum sound and some diverse vocal harmonies. I think Stream Of Passion is at their best when the songs are heavier and faster because there are more elements to the overall sound. More uptempo songs like ‘This Endless Night’ and ‘My Leader’ follow this same structure and are some of my favorites of the album. The band just sounds stronger on the heavier tracks! ‘Burn My Pain’ is mid-tempo with buzzing guitars and a thumping bassline that keeps the song going along and ‘Let Me In’ continues the melodic lush sound at various speeds. The first problem arises with Stream Of Passion’s decision to include ‘Street Spirit’, a Radiohead cover. I’m not going to go into my dislike of cover songs on studio albums but why not make this song the bonus track instead of ‘Far And Apart’? So far THE FLAME WITHIN has 10 solid songs and then we get a cover song, it breaks things up for me because I’m not a big Radiohead guy, I think they are extremely overrated and overhyped.

The band gets back down to business with another heavy mid-tempo track ‘A Part Of You’ that has one of the hardest riffs on the album but I’m not sold on the vocals, they sound all over the place with no focus. Another piano intro opens the beautiful ballad ‘All I Know’. This is something like the 4th or 5th song that starts with a piano/vocal opening but it doesn’t build like the others do, ‘All I Know’ stays set as a proper ballad with only the violin and some strings being added in…..this is also the shortest song on the record clocking in at just over 2 minutes. The final song is the previously mentioned bonus track ‘Far And Apart’. If you were lucky enough to by the U.S. digipak pressing then you got this song as a nice extra as well as slightly different cover art (pull out the booklet and compare). ‘Far And Apart’ is heavy on the keyboards and orchestration but that symphonic sound fits in easily with the rest of the original material on the album. I still don’t understand why this is left off the proper record instead of the cover song but it’s a small complaint. If you have the choice, pick up the U.S. digipak, the song is worth it.

Bottom Line:
With other major releases in the same genre from Lacuna Coil and The Gathering, Stream Of Passion has a lot of competition for a spot in my rotation. The good news for the band is that they have definitely released the better album and have come out of the shadow of the Arjen Lucassen shadow. The major difference between THE FLAME WITHIN and the other albums released in this genre this year is that Stream Of Passion makes a serious effort to stay heavy and keep the songs from sounding the same. The Lacuna Coil album sounded the same to me and the latest from The Gathering is extremely mellow, both album quickly dropped off my playlist…..points to Stream Of Passion for keeping the Metal in Symphonic Metal.

Favorite Songs:
‘The Art Of Loss’, ‘In The End’, ‘Far And Apart’, ‘Games We Play’, ‘When You Hurt Me The Most’

CD Scavenger Hunt — New Release Tuesday edition 6/2/09

Has it really been over a month since I went out on a Hunt? Sad to say but it has been a month since I went wild in the record store. I’m not sure what was up with May but I made up for things the right way by scooping up a bunch of new releases that came out the last couple weeks, grabbing a CD that I featured in a WANTED! post, and a couple of Ebay purchases. The weird thing was that I walked into my local Newbury Comics and the store was completely changed around! I had no idea where anything was! So let’s get to this week’s finds…..

Online

SAVANNAH - S-TSavannah – s/t (1998) – $15: Once I posted the WANTED column for this CD, I decided to go out and get it right away. I went to Amazon and found the Nightmare Records store where they had a brand new copy for $12 ($3 shipping). The listing stated that it was the U.S. version but it turned out to be the Japanese pressing with the bonus track: ‘Too Young Hearts’ (Soul Version). I was surprised to get the Japanese pressing because it usually goes for $50-$75 in most places…..definitely a bargain!

alyson avenue omegaAlyson Avenue – Omega (2004) – $11: I read online somewhere that both Alyson Avenue albums were going to be re-released but then I couldn’t find the article again. I have the band’s first album PRESENCE OF MIND (2000) and that goes for big bucks at auction now so I figured I might as well find OMEGA and have a complete set of original pressings. This album was easy to find but at inflated prices but I found this auction because the band’s name was misspelled…..I won for $8 + $3 shipping.

JLT - Rescue YouJoe Lynn Turner – Rescue You (1985) – $12: I love Joe Lynn Turner, he has one of the finest voices in Rock and I’ve taken an interest in picking up everything he’s done in the last few years. RESCUE YOU has been on my wishlist for quite some time now and it’s an easy album to find on CD because Wounded Bird Records reissued the album in 2004. I’ve actually seen a copy or two in my record store hunts! I was watching an auction for one of the reissues and I found this one ending soon for a Japanese pressing from ’85. I always prefer an original over a reissue especially when there is nothing extra on the reissue so winning this one for $9 + $3 shipping was a great deal!

Record Store

whitesnake-lovehunter-1979Whitesnake – Lovehunter (1979) – $12 used: I know $12 is a lot of a used CD but I haven’t been able to track down LOVEHUNTER in a few years, once I saw it I grabbed it right away! I posted a WANTED column for this album just over a year ago and I’ve been giving this the weekly search online…..you can’t find this online for less than $10 and, if you do, a bidding war starts! Another hole in the collection filled!

Candlemass_DeathMagicDoomCandlemass – Death Magic Doom (2009) – $12: This album came out last week but I never went to the record store…..I ended up missing the $9.99 sale price and had to settle for the new $12 sale price. I haven’t really paid much attention to Candlemass lately, especially when Messiah Marcolin left again in 2006, but I decided to give the band a fresh listen. This U.S. version has a bonus track ‘Lucifer Rising’ (album outtake).

Stratovarius-PolarisStratovarius – Polaris (2009) – $9.99: Here’s another band that I haven’t paid much attention to in the last few years and another album that came out last week. The good news is I got the special first week $9.99 sale! Power Metal is one of my favorite genres of Metal so Stratovarius should be one of the bands I really enjoy but I haven’t bothered to pay attention to the band since they released INFINITE in 2000. Something about the album cover really interested me this time around and the sale price helped out as well.

Alestorm - Black Sails At Midnight (2009 limited edition)Alestorm – Black Sails At Midnight (2009 limited edition) – $13: Pirate Metal! I’ve been getting into Alestorm a lot lately by listening to their first album, CAPTAIN MORGAN’S REVENGE (2008), online and the LEVIATHAN E.P. (2009) that I picked up a couple months ago. I couldn’t resist picking up this CD when I saw that the limited edition included a DVD of the band’s performance at 2008’s Wacken Open Air festival. Comes in a nice digipak slipcase with the original artwork on the booklet.

doro_fear_no_evil_limited_edition_2009Doro – Fear No Evil (2009 limited edition) – $9.99: The reigning queen of Metal is back with another album and it just seems like she just keeps releasing new albums every year. This album has been out everywhere but the U.S. since January and this version says it’s a limited edition because of the online access to bonus content with the CD. That really makes no difference to me because the digipak version from Europe has 2 bonus tracks AND the online bonuses. A little disappointed brcause I’d want the other 2 songs but the price was good, I’ll keep my eye out for the European version though.

the gathering - the west pole The Gathering – The West Pole (2009) – $12: I got into The gathering back in 1995 when I heard ‘In Motion #1′ from MANDYLION…..after that I became a big fan of the band and vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen. I followed the band closely, buying every new album, until they released IF_THEN_ELSE (2000). By that time I was getting bored with the direction the band was taking into a more atmospheric realm. Now Anneke is gone, having left after the tour for 2006’s HOME, and new singer Silje Wergeland (ex-Octavia Sperati) is on board. I’m interested in how Silje sings and if the music will be different with a new vocalist.

streamofpassion_flameStream Of Passion – The Flame Within (2009 limited edition) – $12: I’m going into this CD blindly because I have never heard a Stream Of Passion song before but I read quite a few positive reviews from some well respected Metal websites so I figured I’d take a chance. Arjen Anthony Lucassen from Ayreon used to be in the band so I figure the music has a Power/Progressive/Ambient quality. The limited edition digipak release for the U.S. has a bonus track called ‘Far And Apart’.

tyr_bythelightTýr – By The Light Of The Northern Star (2009 limited edition) – $12: Well Napalm Records surely got my business this week with Týr, Alestorm and Stream Of Passion all coming out the same day and all U.S. limited editions! Big fan of Týr since I picked up LAND (2008) and I started into their back catalogue. I didn’t realize they had a new record coming out but I know it’s going to be good.