Originally constructed as somewhat of a spin-off of the Arjen Anthony Lucassen-led Ayreon project, Stream of Passion has solidified into a progressively leaning symphonic metal band in its own right. Fronted by the charismatic Marcela Bovio, Stream of Passion fits in firmly beside leaders of the style such as Nightwish and Epica, with grandiose compositions and captivating vocal performances. Darker Days, the band's third album, is flawlessly executed from end to end but lacks significant staying power.
To be fair, genre fans will devour Darker Days as if it were a sparkly vampire or a shirtless werewolf. The album contains everything that style aficionados demand: bombastic arrangements; complex instrumentation; crystalline vocals; lush melodies. Lacking, however, is a certain je ne sais pas that thrusts the album, or any one track for that matter, into a permanent place within memory. There are moments where Darker Days begins to gain a little bit of distinction, such as the meaty riffs and enrapturing vocal harmonies (an absolute highpoint of the album) of "Reborn" as well as the crunchy riffs of "Collide", but for the most part the songs tend to blur into one another and pass by largely unnoticed.
Perhaps one of the more underrated female singers in the world of metal, Mexican-born Bovio does more than her fair share to propel Darker Days forward, often snatching drifting attention spans back with a well-placed high note or a heartfelt lyric delivered in her native language. Most of Stream of Passion's songs are crafted to Bovio's strengths, allowing her voice to carry far and above the symphonic interplay of the guitars and keys. "Spark" is one of two ballads ("Nadie Lo Ve" being the other) where Bovio is free to give her most passionate performances, but her delivery on each and every track is fully convincing and genuine.
Occasionally an aspect of Darker Days will set the album apart from the throngs of other symphonic, and slightly Gothic, albums on the market, such as the frequent "ballroom" vibe created by the waltz-like melodies, but despite these strengths there's nothing that actually elevates it to memorable levels.
|4||The Scarlet Mask||3:43|
|12||Nadie Lo Ve||3:05|
|13||The World Is Ours||3:50|
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