I don’t think I’ve ever heard very many (if any) horrible symphonic metal records. The interesting thing is…this is one of my favorite types of music, and one of my FAVORITE bands is from this particular genre, Epica. Yet I don’t know of a whole lot of symphonic metal bands. Over the course of maybe two months, I discovered almost all of the symphonic metal bands I listen to today: Nightwish, Epica, Therion, After Forever, Edenbridge, Within Temptation, and Apocalyptica. The only other symphonic metal bands that I’ve discovered since then are newer groups like ReVamp, Whyzdom, and Tarja. All of these symphonic metal bands are AMAZING and each have a special place in my collection, but I’ve been curious to find some brand new symphonic metal acts out there to impress me. Onatra is the band I’m going to tell you about today. Earlier this year, Onatra released a three song EP that is apparently available to the public for free, which most likely means that this is being used as a teaser to get the community hyped up and excited for a debut full-length. This EP isn’t an outright perfect record; it is, though, EXACTLY what I wanted to hear.
This EP is more than good enough to keep my eye on Onatra for when they release their debut album. But because it’s not AMAZING, it leaves a whole lot of room for improvement to make the upcoming first album seem so much better. Honestly, most of the flaws that this record has aren’t in the music itself; the majority of the flaws lie in the production work. This album is better produced than most self-released EPs I’ve heard, but there are several things about it that make a lot of the elements seem unbalanced and make the music much harder to flow smoothly. Probably the biggest issue that I have is the drums. In this kind of music, the drums NEED to be at the front of the line; if the drums have no volume and punch, the music has no power. If you listen to songs like See Who I Am by Within Temptation or Discord by After Forever, it’s easy to hear that the drums have parts where they’re more in the background, but most of the time they almost completely stick out and rise above the rest of the band. I know that the drums aren’t the ONLY thing that give this kind of music its power, but it certainly is the absolute biggest contributor.
The first track of this EP has a fantastic intro! But the reason why it has next to no power is because the drums have next to no punch. Once again, there isn’t much that can be done musically to help this (except for the use of more cymbals in the tighter parts to make them more powerful). That’s the one single thing that’s almost completely holding back the music, MORE DRUMS! The drums need to be LOUDER and have more damn POWER! Although I have a generally easy time seeing through this and seeing the mass amounts of musical creativity and potential, it does act as a huge obstruction. But don’t let that turn you away, because in the middle of the first track…a guitar solo erupts seemingly out of nowhere to pierce the skies like a rising phoenix. This is one of the better solos I’ve heard in this kind of music in a LONG time. After that solo grabbed my attention and almost pulled me in completely, the song then exploded with power that apparently was there the whole time; I guess it was the guitar solo that did to me what the intro SHOULD have done. That’s the big thing with this type of music, the attention grab of the intro needs to be almost INSTANT, or it will make the music seem dull until something interesting happens (that is, IF something interesting happens).
The second track is a fantastic headbanging song and has most of the grab in the beginning that the first song was missing…but the drums could still use to have more volume and power. The singer is obviously going to be the highlight among audiences once this band REALLY takes off (just like in almost every other symphonic metal band). If you’re curious about how she sounds, she perfectly nails the operatic singing style, but it doesn’t fit the powerless sound of the rest of the music. Another thing that this album is missing: the guitars need more crunch. And by that I mean a much heavier distortion.
Overall, this is actually a fantastic EP, but the numerous production flaws limit the music a lot. This EP shows that this band has talent, skill, and creativity. It also shows that there is plenty of room for improvement that they can fill by the time they release their first full-length album. I would give this 15/20.