Style: Symphonic Power Metal
Release Date: 10 May 2019
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I've been enjoying quite a few releases from Turkey of late and I wondered what symphonic power metal would sound like with a Turkish angle, especially when created and performed by one man. This is Onur Hunuma's third full length album in four years and he's knocked out an EP and a bunch of singles in between.
Well, it sounds like the first couple of tracks, both of which are entirely instrumental. Shiva Shakti is an enticing minute long intro that develops out of what sounds like an Istanbul street scene. Valo & Kuolema doesn't but it still creates a visual space. Guitars give way to exotic synthwork, which in turn gives way to guitars. The riffs are simple but solid and the synths get more and more layered. It grows well.
Dreams I Have Seen does some of the same but it's more urgent, darker and more about solos than riffs. It gets much more interesting towards the end too, with what sounds like a brass section but is probably more synths. It escalates with layer after layer being added onto a crushing guitar. I hope Hunuma made it out of that dream alive. I'm sure there are stories to tell. It does end triumphantly, as if escape was its own reward.
And so we go. Well, no we don't, because Hunuma likes to keep things varied. Mostly that's by approach, because songs like Virtual Paradise and Blood Red Hiroshima aren't miles away from these early tracks even if they sound like it on the first listen. The former is a quieter, more background song that reminds of routine eighties soft rock on either side of heavier soloing, a synthpop drum sound defining it, while the latter is more aggressive and a lot more serious, speeding things up to tempos we might expect from extreme metal. They're opposite ends of the same scale.
What's most out of place is Aquatic and not merely because it adds vocals, which are sung in English, for the only time on the album (sans a few samples). It begins softly and never toughens up, content to stay in alternative rock territory with a sixties psychedelic flavour. I can't say that it's a bad song because it isn't, but it would fit better on a Donovan single than on an otherwise instrumental album of Turkish power metal.
I should add that 'symphonic power metal' is a limiting label for Hunuma, even if it's partially accurate. I felt that this was prog metal as much as power metal and it's not always symphonic either. Even on the final track, an orchestral version of The Origin, it brings in an overtly chiptune sound at one point that shifts our take on it from movie score to game soundtrack. The earlier version features samples and a melody that's oddly reminiscent of the James Bond Theme. The latter is there on the orchestral version too but it's more obliterated by the chiptune.
I've enjoyed a lot of one man projects this year and this is another good one. I appreciated Onur Hunuma's variety as much as his compositional skill and musical ability. It's an easy album to listen to but there are depths here that are worth exploring.