Amanda Somerville’s TRILLIUM – Tectonic

There’s something about Amanda Somerville. I can’t put my finger on it but I like her. I mean, I don’t know much about her and I have only heard her sing with Avantasia, both in studio and live – and I heard a little of her project with Michael Kiske (Helloween, Unisonic, Place Vendome) – and I just love her voice. So when this album showed up (no, I have never heard any of her solo stuff or the debut album from her Trillium project, Alloy (2011)) I just got very excited to put it on and give it a go. Somerville was born in Michigan (USA) in 1979 and as a 20-year-old she moved to Germany in 1999 and started working on a solo career as a singer the year after. Her debut album came out in 2000 and as a total she has released five solo albums. Add to that she has record one album with the rock opera Aina, two with HDK, two with Kiske/Somerville, one with Exit Eden and now her second effort with Trillium is released. And as I wrote, I really looked forward to hear Somerville’s music for the first time.

The album opens with “Time To Shine”, a Heavy Metal piece that borders to Power Metal, a genre I’m not overly fond of. It comes in a slower pace in the verses but speeds up some when it’s time for the chorus – a chorus I find very catchy, full of Pop hooks. As I really like the song, I let the Power Metal vibes slide for now. Somerville proves that she’s got an amazing set of pipes and I’m really getting my hopes up here. The fact that it reminds me of ex- Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen’s solo stuff some doesn’t bother me a bit. No, I’m not a fan of most of Tarja’s solo stuff. “Stand Up” is a more straight-forward Hard Rock / Metal number that is a bit on the symphonic side that brings on memorable melodies and a refrain so catchy it hurts. This is spot on – a killer tune!

“Full Speed Ahead” is like two songs in one. It’s a ballsy and bouncy Metal track that brings my mind to Lacuna Coil in the verses but as soon as the chorus kicks in, we’re in for a Power Metal treat. Well, it’s not bad but it really doesn’t do that for me. The somewhat progressive “Hit Me” comes in a dark and heavy mode and moves in a mid pace, a pace that gets a bit faster along the way. It’s quite an intense tune, both punchy and groovy that grabs a hold of me right of the bat. But it’s the refrain that is the tune’s strongest point as the catchiness is contagious. To me, this is a single and easily the best one so far. “Fighting Fate” blends some punky rhythms with Power Metal and a gothic atmosphere that stands on a more traditional Heavy metal ground. Yes, it’s a melodic yet heavy piece and the chorus does its best to grab me but it still fails to build up a momentum at any time and in the end, the tune is on the forgettable side.

Next up is “Nocturna”, a heavy and dark piece that starts out slow and laid-back with a cinematic vibe. The big symphonic and gothic soundscape is again reminiscent of Tarja Turunen’s solo stuff. It’s an ok song but even after a few spins, it’s not convincing and leaves me underwhelmed. “Fatal Mistake” is a bit on the softer side and steps into ballad territory. Still, it’s pretty heavy and it contains an amazing chorus with a huge hit potential. Also, the brilliant solo break leans towards power balladry which makes the song even more catchy. A great song and it should be a single. Second single “Shards” is an uptempo Power Metal/Pop/Goth rock track, straight-forward and in-your-face, heavy and pounding. It’s a very catchy tune with a refrain that sticks by first listen and it should go down great on rock radio but still, this is not up my alley even though it’s not really bad.

In “Cliché Freak Show” Amanda and her cohorts brings us the heaviest track on the album. Both rough and hard-hitting, the tune also comes with a symphonic and gothic wall of sound with a somewhat spooky vibe that brings on a horror-film feel where a slight Alice Cooper influence is weaved in the melodies. Lots of contrasts which brings up the dynamics a notch – one of the finest tracks on the album without a doubt. As a closer, “Eternal Spring” lies over us like a silk cover. It’s a slow, soft and beautiful ballad – and very grandiose with a gorgeous arrangement. It’s an epic track that really gets under my skin and Somerville’s vocals are just over the top amazing. I think of Within Temptation when I hear it but it’s hardly a rip-off. A great song and a great closing track.

For some reason – don’t ask me why – I had some high expectations on this album, expectations that the album just can’t live up to. To have expectations on a band that I haven’t heard before might be a weird thing – it might even be wrong but in my mind I thought I would be a fan of the record. Maybe it’s because I love Somerville’s voice so much, I dunno. And the woman can sing, that’s not even under discussion. Fact is, I listen to this record now just to hear her voice. Other than that, it’s a well-produced album and Trillium contains some damn fine musicians, it’s just the songs that I find underwhelming. Except for a few exceptions, I can’t find anything that sticks – I miss the hits, the hooks, the fist in the gut that makes go WOW! Even some of the songs I like are soon forgotten after the album is done.  If it wasn’t for Somerville’s brilliant set of pipes, this album would probably never be played in my household again as a whole. Maybe it’s just not my kind of music but since I find potential here, I do think that there’s a really good album in this lot somewhere.

4/10

Tracklist:

1. Time To Shine
2. Stand Up
3. Full Speed Ahead
4. Hit Me
5. Fighting Fate
6. Nocturna
7. Fatal Mistake
8. Shards
9. Cliché Freak Show
10. Eternal Spring

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