Have you ever listened to something that totally kicked in your sternum even though you weren't expecting much in the first place? My rib cage and its assorted components are, unfortunately, splintered and in pieces, because the epic symphonic blueprint of Italy's Sound Storm totally took me by surprise. I was anticipating something like Rhapsody of Fireperhaps a little more symphonic based on what I knew about the band. However, "Immortalia," just the project's second full-length album, shows a superb demonstration of epic symphonic metal mastery from a group that knows what it wants and wastes nothing of value. "Immortalia" is a total rush of symphonic bliss, a carefully calculated opus of majestic instrumentation delivered through top-notch performances and a pristine medium of artistic brilliance that easily rivals cohorts like Rhapsody of Fire and pretty much any symphonic-based group my mind can conjure.
I can't help but call Sound Storm one of the finer symphonic metal acts, and they actually use both symphonic influences and heavy metal without off-setting one for the other. Of course, the main issue with something like this is the songwriting because of all the interior and exterior movements happening at every angle, but "Immortalia" doesn't suffer from a cacophonic bombardment of instruments slamming into the listener's ear. Instead, the overall compositions are remarkably smooth and definitely not cluttered at all. As I previously specified, Sound Storm has some musical tendencies that could probably be notched up to Rhapsody of Fire or another epic symphonic/orchestral project based on the shared overall scheme held by their counterparts. How does Sound Storm look individualistic compared to their competitors?
Well, "Immortalia" is quite the throne-shifter if you're looking for this type of thing, because every song from the intro to the beautifully epic piece of melancholy that blesses "The Portrait" holds the listener's attention, and there's enough spice and variety to truly keep things fresh. At times they fire hyperactive examples of adrenaline-pumping symphonic metal like "Wrath of the Storm" or "Blood of Maiden" without missing a beat, yet Sound Storm easily switches tones and skins for wonderful ballads ("Watching You Fading"), atmospheric pieces which rule the day ("The Curse of the Moon," "Faraway") and nearly everything in-between. They supply the operatic female vocals, symphonic qualities, incredible keyboard melodies, and dazzling guitar leads, so there's no need to bring your own.
It's also very difficult to not find Philippe D'Orange's cinematic voice absolutely stunning. He kills it on "The Curse of the Moon" and "Faraway" like any great vocalist should; the mid-paced, atmospheric ground obtained by both songs is where he shines the brightest. It's pivotal to mention little secondary bits which often go unnoticed such as production and overall flow are likewise fantastic attributes to this glorious album as well, and I'm completely devoid of any complaints. The animated, catchy nature of what Sound Storm produces throughout "Immortalia" has enough substance to explain its depth without question, and fans of largely bombastic music should certainly find "Immortalia" hastily. Do not let this eclipse you.