Dark Nova

Sivilla

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AllMusic Review by

It would be an understatement to say Greek progressive metal band Dark Nova has had a hard time keeping it together, seeing as 2005's Sivilla is only their third long-player since forming way back in 1987! They have been very active as a live band, however, and that concert experience is certainly reflected in their intriguing arrangements and obviously carefully assembled compositions, if not the highest studio production standards with which to shape them. Really, Dark Nova's chosen musical style (or multiplicity of styles) is not only demanding of the players, but also those in charge of recording them, and with so much going on in Sivilla's innately Byzantine cuts (see the power metal energy and searing keyboard solo of "Welcome Into My Nightmare" and the sub-Dream Theater schizophrenia of the title cut, for example), singer Michael Choulakis is the first casualty to get lost in the mix. At times soaring over the orchestrated din (most notably on album highlight "Reach for the Sky"), at others drowned by its structural density and added layers of angelic choir sections, his vocals, although flexible enough in a typically proggy James LaBrie-meets-Geoff Tate sort of way, simply don't seem powerful enough to rise up to the task at hand. Rather, it is band guitarist Elias Koskoris who most often holds down his duties with the greatest distinction and versatility, eventually leading his cohorts into sporadic moments of breathtaking inspiration amidst workmanlike offerings on "In a Crevasse of Time," "Out of the Silence" and the Fates Warning-recalling "Too Late to Hide." Completing the picture, the group's lyrics range from realistic and philosophical to the arcane and fantastical, and should bring added luster to fans willing to overlook the album's sonic deficiencies long enough to appreciate Dark Nova's obvious technical abilities.

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