Lyriel – “Skin And Bones” (AFM Records)
Now onto their 5th album, Germany’s Lyriel are a classy act indeed, suavely blending folk with goth and hard rock into an irresistible package! Fronted by the twin temptresses in Jessica Thierjung´s angelic voice and Linda Laukamp’s cellos (along with Joon Laukamp’s violins), Lyriel’s songs have a special atmosphere, undoubtedly romantic both in a gothic as well as Celtic sense, but moreover evoking a magical feeling that immerses you in their material like on the dreamy ballad of ‘Days Had Just Begun’ – truly superb. Amazingly the rock element is a lot harder than I would expect with hard crunching guitars and heavy drums like on ‘Running In Our Blood’ but it doesn’t detract from the overpowering melodies that are so strong not even Christian Älvestam’s (ex-Scar Symmetry, Solution .45) guest ‘beast’ vocals can subdue it in his duet with Jessica on ‘Black and White’ – also offered in a second symphonic version just to be sure! With quiet moments like on ‘Astray’ showing the classical operatic potential of Thierjung further – in case anyone forgot her quest appearance on Xandria’s “India” album – the strength of the compositions on this superb album is very classy indeed and a true reflection of the high standards of the band themselves as musicians and how they’ve evolved. With an excellent mix and mastering provided by Thomas ‘Plec’ Johannsen (Scar Symmetry) allowing the instruments to have an organic, natural feel, Lyriel’s sound has moved above the artificial synthy sound typifying many in the genre to showcase their powerful material without losing their identity. “Skin And Bones” easily proves they can compete with big names like Delain and Nightwish and that is beyond a shadow of any doubt here.