A year and a half after the stunning debut with “Chapter I – Monarchy,” Swiss symphonic metal outfit AD INFINITUM are back for round two with the equally stunning “Chapter II – Legacy.” The album is set for release on October 29th, 2021, through Napalm Records and since this record deals with the life, legacy, and myth of one of Romania (my country)’s most controversial rulers, Vlad the Impaler (or Vlad Dracula), I really am excited for this release.
Picking up where the band left off with their debut album, “Chapter II – Legacy” sees the quartet strengthening their symphonic power metal style with a much heavier approach to the music. The melodic side is just as sleek and potent as before, with Melissa Bonny delivering some absolutely gorgeous vocal melodies, while guitarist Adrian Thessenvitz showcases his skill in some excellent riffs and masterful solos. Likewise, bassist Korbinian Benedict and drummer Niklas Müller follow suit and bring some nice grooves and djent accents to the fold. Is it weird I am more impressed by the younger, up-and-coming talent (like AD INFINITUM, SEVEN SPIERS, JINJER, SPIRITBOX, PHANTOM ELITE) than I am by many already established groups who mostly seem to be playing it safe?
Lyric-wise, the album poses a lot of moral questions and uses a number of interesting metaphors to get its point across. Thus, don’t expect a historical album about battles and such, but rather a commentary on how good intentions often lead to Hell, and how people seek redemption (in this case, even in the afterlife). For those that don’t know, Vlad the Impaler was a ruler who did what was needed to protect his land against the Ottoman Empire, but his methods were controversial, to say the least. His nickname – Dracula – stems from a military organization his father was a part of, namely the Order of the Dragon. Coincidentally, it fits his bloodlust pretty well. From a musical standpoint, “Chapter II – Legacy” is quite cinematic and grand, as it has to be to support such a big overarching theme. It boasts straightforward tracks, like lead single “Unstoppable,” but also a few new and intriguing musical directions, as the djenty second single and major hit, “Afterlife.”
Opener “Reinvented” is a melodic and heavy piece with some piano lines popping up in the background. It sets up the story and the mood nicely. This is followed by the first single, “Unstoppable,” whose big chorus pulls the listener in while the occasional harsh vocals layered under some melodic cleans give off a menacing vibe. “Inferno” feels like a power ballad, with subtle orchestrations that add to the drama of the music, while the instrumental side keeps everything grounded in heavy sounds. “Your Enemy” is one of the heaviest cuts on the album, with powerful guitars, pounding drums, and melodic vocals that counterbalance everything. There are some harsh vocals mixed up in here that make the song feel all the more aggressive and ominous. I can already imagine how unleased the crowd will get once this makes its way to the band’s live setlist, as the build-up in intensity pays off in a grand chorus and nifty instrumental sections.
The centerpiece of the album is undoubtedly the superb duet with powerhouse vocalist Nils Molin (DYNAZTY, AMARANTHE), “Afterlife.” Their voices blend so well together in some beautiful harmonies, especially those wails at the end, to bring this dark and slightly Gothic piece to life. All the while the djent-infused guitars, groovy bass line, and intense drums work relentlessly to provide a nice and tight rhythmic backbone that juxtaposes the soaring vocals. “Breathe” is an atmospheric mid-tempo track that unfolds into a great banger thanks to the backing guitar melody and fiery solo, intense orchestrations, and steady drums. Both “Animals” and “Into the Night” are up-tempo songs with excellent vocal melodies driving the choruses and will go well in a live setting. Where “Animals” is moody and bouncy, “Into the Night” is heavy and aggressive, on par with “Your Enemy” and closing track “Lullaby.”
Album highlight “Son of Wallachia” is as intense as it is dramatic, as the orchestrations are more in the forefront. Melissa Bonny’s delivery is emotional and haunting and really puts you in the character’s skin, making you feel his longing for his home country. “My Justice, Your Pain” is a Jekyll & Hyde -type of song, as it veers a bit into metalcore territory and offers both fantastic clean vocals as well as some brutal harsh vocals as well. Adrian Thessenvitz showcases his shredding abilities delivering some nasty riffs while Niklas Müller blasts away behind the drumkit. “Haunted” has some folky undertones going for it, while still keeping an up-tempo rhythm and a dark ambiance. Final track “Lullaby” also has some metalcore elements in the mix that work well with the backing orchestrations and wicked guitar riffs. This is such an incredible way to wrap things up.
With “Chapter II – Legacy,” we are definitely getting a heavier and darker side of AD INFINITUM, as the band delivers a technically proficient yet incredibly accessible album. It may start out a bit slow, but once it gets some momentum going for it, it doesn’t let up. Despite the different directions the music takes, the album is pretty cohesive and flows together really well. The twelve tracks are rich, nuanced, and complex with many layers of dramatic orchestration, courtesy of Elias Holmlid, that add to the epic and majestic feel of the album, which is a more than worthy follow-up to “Chapter I – Monarchy.”
Written by Andrea Crow
- Your Enemy
- Into the Night
- Son of Wallachia
- My Justice, Your Pain
- Melissa Bonny – Vocals
- Adrian Thessenvitz – Guitars
- Korbinian Benedict – Bass
- Niklas Müller – Drums