After a few years of speculations as to XANDRIA’s future following the departure of Dianne van Giersbergen in September 2017, this year marked the return of the symphonic metal outfit in a line-up that was basically revamped from scratch. Currently, the band consists of founding member Marco Heubaum on rhythm guitar and keyboards with new recruits Ambre Vourvahis on vocals, Rob Klawonn on lead guitar, Tim Schwarz on bass, and Dimitrios Gatsios on drums. To announce their return, the band released single “Reborn” in May, followed by “You Will Never Be Our God” in early September, the latter really catching our attention.
Boosted by a video depicting an authoritarian society that burns books so as not to encourage free thinking (á la Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451), the song is as powerful and thought-provoking as KAMELOT’s “Revolution” or EPICA’s latest release, “The Final Lullaby.” Musically, “You Will Never Be Our God” opens on guitar riffs and faint orchestrations, but it soon builds up to include the full band. From the get-go, Ambre Vourvahis shows that she can do more styles of singing by delivering some impressive harsh vocals, before diving into some melodic cleans for the verses. The music keeps a constant pace with some swells in the orchestration during the mid-section while wonderful strings and operatic vocals weave in and out of the main melody.
It’s nice to see this mix of symphonic elements and heavy metal instrumental again in their music after “We Are Murderers (We All)” from their 2017 album “Theater of Dimensions,” which featured Björn Strid (SOLIWORK) as guest vocalist. If the latter was more symphonic driven, this new single is more rooted in power metal. The added vocals by PRIMAL FEAR’s Ralf Scheepers add a bit of heft to select passages from the lyrics, his voice working well in tandem with Ambre’s. Towards the end, he does some power metal screams to complement Ambre’s operatic vocals from the bridge and finish off the song on a high note, literally!
Lyrically, the song speaks about government manipulation – as per the line. “A prison they have made my mind, my enemy” – and the citizens’ fight for freedom with the chorus stating that, “You will never be our savior / I won’t die terrorized / You will never be our god.” The video brilliantly showcases these ideas by using various slogans, military personnel, prisoners, and, the cherry on top, book burning. The main idea is that no matter how much people want to control what someone else does, thinks, or says, they will never be able to exert full power as liberty and freedom are an inherent part of our human nature (“They tried to break my will to live / Another life where I can bе / Can be myself”). Countless dystopian books (and their movie adaptations) have shown how these types of authoritarian regimes are bound to fail ,as people will always “defy this fate / until we die.” As stated earlier, this is a powerful song with a powerful message.
If this track is anything to measure by, then XANDRIA is ready to not just pick up where they left off in 2017 but also expand their sound, which they can easily do thanks to Ambre Vourvahis’ vocal skills. She may be a new face in the metal scene, but has the charisma and chops to make a big splash in the years to come. This, in turn, will help the band reclaim their status as one of the best bands in the symphonic metal realm, alongside juggernauts like EPICA, WITHIN TEMPTATION, and NIGHTWISH. But only time will tell
Written by Andrea Crow