Lapis Lazuli
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Lapis Lazuli


Band Metal Classical


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"9 / 10"

t’s sometimes amazing how one band can influence a generation of musicians. Nightwish certainly comes to mind, and one of the bands they influenced was the band under consideration here, Lapis Lazuli from Sweden. Band founder Timo Hautamaki allows that the idea for a symphonic metal band came to him in 2005 while watching a Nightwish DVD. After some introductory work, the original band did a release, and then another release under the name Aftermath, with an American vocalist, Meliesa McDonell, who Timo had worked with while McDonell was applying for the job as Nightwish’s new vocalist after the departure of Tarja. McDonell stayed with the band for a while, although she never actually met any of them, one of those long distance things, seems she preferred the beaches in San Diego to those in Sweden. Well, she eventually left the band about the time they reverted back to the original name and the band decided to go with a sure ‘nuff local talent named Frida Eurenius to do the heavy lifting vocally. A short time later we get the release under review here, A Loss Made Forever, and this, dear friends, is damn sure fine symphonic metal. Frida doesn’t really do a Tarja thing, hers is a little more metal in flavor, but I assure you, those vocals are more than a little entertaining. Timo does a little vocalizing as well, maybe more than a little, this is an equal opportunity vocal with both vocalists contributing. He also does the keys, and there’s a lot of keys; this ain’t your typical $599 variety synthizer. The CD, and they do call it a CD, is 7 songs, but they’re generally pretty substantial, so you do get your money’s worth.
The music is symphonic, as I may have mentioned. Timo tells me that symphonic is used for melodies and background on most tracks. But, in my opinion, that sound is featured. Guitars are solid, the base does what it’s supposed to do and the drums are thundering. But, this music features the vocals, especially the female, and the soaring symphonics. And you know what, it does sound a little like Nightwish, with a different vocalist, of course. But, there is that keyboard that we so often find featured in Nightwish, and the throbbing guitar that is used to set up Tarja’s vocals. And, anything that can be favorably compared to Tarja era Nightwish sure has to be a good thing. Not that I have much against the current version either.

You get right to the symphonic direction directly out of the box. The first cut is Ascension, and it begins like a lot of the Gothic material out of Western Europe, very classically oriented, slowly moving towards the symphonic metal as the sound builds. Of course, it never gets there, other than for some hint of a metal drum in the background. The symphonic Gothic bands have been using this type of intro now for years, it seems to be a signal to the listener that you’re heading into a certain type of music, get ready, this is more than just metal, hope you like it. But we quickly leap to the core of the Lapis Lazuli sound with the second track A Loss Made Forever, the cover track. Our lovely Nordic vocalist does most of the work on this one but there are significant segments where there is a male lead or a duel vocal. And the two seem to work well together, similar styles that may sound better together than either does individually. And, that symphonic background works overtime to keep the feel of the music right where it belongs, epic, thundering and emotional.

That epic symphonic, with epic flowing hair, continues throughout the CD on the remaining 5 selections, even though pace and other characteristics do alter across those selections. However, there are other characteristics that do come and go to make the music interesting. For instance, the keyboards, which continue to deliver a symphonic background, often include a nice piano to set up individual components of the music, thus giving it a completely different sound. That and other keyboard delivered sounds alter the tone and feeling of the music. Guitars are not often featured but when they are they are more than a little entertaining. You don’t get the feeling that this is in any way typical metal, on any song, even if there is enough of that sound to remind you that there is a metal component to the music. If you’re looking for hard metal, this is the wrong place to search. The guitars are subservient. This is symphonic based music.

The Scandinavians seem to have a sound that is all their own. It’s classically oriented much of the time, we often get orchestration, one way or another, and we usually get a featured voice, often classically oriented as well. I wouldn’t necessarily describe Frida’s vocal style as a classical one; she’s not a soprano in the mode of a Tarja, Floor Jensen or Simone. However, she does have a fine, sultry voice and the production people do some nice work overlaying it on several numbers, not to the extent of some of those others, but, there is some nice work with that voice. And, she has the advantage of having a fine male vocal to work with, something that takes place regularly. On some numbers, Serpent (BlackSun), for instance, that male vocal begins the song and tends to drive the action. The female vocal is added and, at times, both vocals harmonize quite nicely. There’s also some nice pitch variation in this selection, we go about a half octave, within a single verse, resulting in a truly interesting musical sound. It gives the song a little something extra, with the symphonics howling in the background and the drums pounding. Really nice extra touch.

When Dreams Collide may be the most interesting sound on the CD. Strong pounding symphonic metal, a hard, emotional vocal from both vocalists. Again, the guitars provide background while the keyboard sounds, both synths and standard piano, lead the melody and provide direction for the vocals. This one takes us to the ethereal. And, you know with the Gothic, it has to say something in addition to sounding right, and we don’t disappoint here. We get a trip to the darkness here, one that actually gives us something to think about:

Where will this finally lead to
When someone taking their last breath
Where does it start, where does it end
Who is the one to go

The final selection is Dragged into Shade. It begins with a male vocal, one that sets the stage for what is to follow. However, our Nordic female joins in, and this one takes us to an even more standard interpretation of the Nordic Gothic, complete with a death metal vocal from the male lead, this being the only time we get that signature component. And for me, that’s an absolute requirement, one that sets the work to a more complete interpretation of the Gothic musical art form. Again, we get dark, delicious lyrics:

I’ve been deceived, left here to die
I’ve been misled, once more
I’ve been so blind
I’ve been led into shadows
(Dragged into shade)

Not everyone is sold on the symphonic Gothic art form, certainly not in conservative America where rap and the intellectually void Disney Boy band rule supreme. But for those of us who do appreciate this direction, Lapis Lazuli will truly satisfy. You get a solid keyboard symphonic, a metal component that is more than sufficient, and vocals that meet our immediate requirements. And lyrically, we get an interpretation of the Nightwish message that is more than adequate. And that should be sufficient for most of us, with a dazzling Nordic songstress to deliver the message. ‘Nuff said. - Doctor T


A loss made forever. 2011
Tides Of Sorrow 2008
Last Hour 2006



The story of Lapis Lazuli started in the late summer of 2005, when Timo Hautamäki played with the idea of starting a symphonic metal band while watching a Nightwish DVD. He contacted members from his other projects, namely Henrik Nyman, Jocke Ivarsson and Erik Lindfors. To fulfill the lineup he asked Joey Karlsson and Marie Fjällström to join the band, and they both said yes. The first gig was 2 months later, where they performed their first original song, named "Archangel".

But after the gig, Erik no longer wanted to be a part of the band. The replacer was Tobias Rhodin, who had played guitar with Timo and Jocke in their former band Hatecrew. This lineup lasted for about 2 years, filled with several gigs and a demo called "Last Hour", which was released in 2006. In 2007 we mainly did cover gigs with Timo on vocals since Marie lived 300 kilometers away from the rest of the band. Our last gig with Marie on vocals took place in the summer 2007 in Backe, during an event named "Tribute to Lapis Lazuli".

During that summer the foundation for Aftermath was laid down. From the beginning it was only supposed to be a studio project, recording an album to send around to labels. Timo already had a vocalist in mind, namely Meliesa McDonell for whom he had recorded keys on her demo to Nightwish while they where searching for a new singer. She gladly accepted, and in 2008 the debut album "Tides of Sorrow" was released. By this time the project had evolved into a band, and when the first tour hit the road in 2008, Aftermath had recruited Henrik as a session basist. After the tour we decided that we had to get a permanent drummer, and that position was filled by Jocke.

For the next 2 years, the band was rehearsing and working on the new album. The band was going a little slow however, since both Joey and Jocke moved away from the rest of the band. However, in the summer of 2009 they both moved back, and after that the band has kept working hard. In 2010, the band changed their name back to Lapis Lazuli and kept working on their next release.