Aenima - _Never Fragile_
(Equilibrium Music, 2002)
by: Pedro Azevedo (8 out of 10)
Even though I didn't know what to expect from Aenima, by the time "Intro to End All Intros" was over I had little hope left of enjoying this disc. Fortunately, the doomy female vocals gliding over a backdrop of interesting, yet unobtrusive percussion that opened "Forlorn" sparked my interest again. The song then moved into a very The 3rd and the Mortal tinged mood, with a fine soprano voice that reminded me of Kari Rueslatten, mixed with some subtle guitar work and the aforementioned percussion -- all wrapped in a very lightweight sound, certainly not metal; but no less interesting for that. Third track "At the Edge of a Cliff" initially seemed poised to follow in the same direction, but then the rhythm section stepped to the forefront and a more distorted guitar sound also made an appearance, pushing the music in a slightly more gothic rock direction -- and it still worked, thanks to the vocals. Sometimes subdued and mournful, sometimes soaring, Carmen's excellent vocal melodies really give the music most of its depth. "The Light", although more upbeat, shed the heavy(-ish) guitars, relying instead on some smart string work and, of course, the vocals to keep the listener interested. "Lilith" is a tranquil track where some rhythmic and string work provides a background for Carmen's soprano voice to shine once more. I kid you not, she is comparable to Kari Rueslatten circa the _Sorrow_ EP and _Tears Laid in Earth_ -- even if Aenima's music never draws anywhere as near to The 3rd and the Mortal as on "Forlorn". Furthermore, the vocal melodies are not only ear-pleasing; they are also quite memorable, and the music often carries a good emotional quality. Where this Portuguese band really went wrong on this EP was with its closing track, "Rapture": more than half of it is ruined by irritating electronic beats. The song itself is below average considering the quality of the EP's previous tracks, which coupled with the aforementioned electronics turns it into a very forgettable affair. The EP is still over 20 minutes long without the intro and this last track, however. Aenima are definitely a promising band; whilst their vocalist is the one who contributes most to the overall quality, it remains clear that she has a talented band around her that knows how to allow her talent to shine through while keeping the rest of the music interesting. I shall be interested in hearing where they take their sound next.


(article published 31/3/2003)

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