Swan Christy Julian

It isn’t every day that the opportunity to write about a Greek band presents itself, but today must be my lucky day. Plus they are signed to a label that claims to be Greece’s most extreme independent label with a roster of bands who specialise in the heaviest of heavy metal, so imagine my surprise when Swan Christy failed to live up to any preconceived notions based on geography or genre. Julian, their fourth album, represents a change of direction for the band. And while the loud guitars have been replaced by electronic noises and keyboards, there is still something dark and unsettling about their music. The album tries to tell the story of someone’s journey through show business as they attempt to find success against all odds. Or something like that. As a concept album, it doesn’t work very well, but there is a lot to like about Julian simply on its musical merits. Most of the songs have a symphonic quality, with pianos and strings taking the lead, so when the more synthetic elements rear their head, there is a jarring clash of styles that is more attractive than it sounds. The nine songs here are an eclectic mix that prove there is life after metal, and Swan Christy are living proof. (Black Lotus)