Darkwell Metatron

Metatron, Darkwell’s first full length in almost five years, debuts vocalist Stephanie Luzie and takes the band a step away from the fairly straightforward dark metal of their early material. The musical changes on Metatron run deeper than just a voice, revealing a leaning toward progressive-edged sounds and experimentation. Medieval or goth atmospheres more often than not give way to spacey effects, and Luzie’s classically trained voice is layered most of the way through in counterpoint to itself. The complexity of vocal lines doesn’t always mesh successfully with the somewhat simpler rock-oriented riffs underneath, but the combination captures an unearthly, fantastical aura that seems well suited to titles like "Strange,” "Crown of Thorn” or "Hope Unborn.” Listening to Metatron is almost like experiencing a new age metal opera, with an ultramodern orchestra supporting a one-character libretto. (Napalm)