Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: Mena Brinno - Princess of the Night (2012)

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Princess of the Night

Mena Brinno - Princess of the Night
Princess of the Night, the third album from Floridian Gothic metal outfit Mena Brinno, is an amalgam of Gothic and symphonic metal elements intended to capture the attention of fans of such bands as Nightwish and Epica. There are a lot of interesting ideas at work on the album, some of which stretch thin the cohesion between the vocal and musical elements, resulting in a good listen that hints at greater things to come.

Frontwoman and Mena Brinno co-founder Katy Decker exemplifies the idea of a Gothic diva with her seductively dark imagery and undeniable vocal talent. Decker's voice swoops and soars over the course of the album, exposing her polished and classically trained abilities. In the context of Princess of the Night, however, Decker best compliments the music when she restricts her range and accentuates the sultry, alluring elements of her vocal arsenal. The title track and "Serpentine Lullaby" are two of the strongest songs on the album primarily because Decker reigns in her voice to more closely match the brooding and melodic qualities of the songs. Tracks like "Blackmail" and "Sonorous Dream", where Decker goes full opera while the rest of the band sticks to a more Gothic-oriented formula, tend to come off sounding a bit disjointed.

Mena Brinno
As to the music itself, the Mena Brinno sound is the result of a truly collaborative effort as all of the band members provide multiple contributions. For instance the keyboard elements, which are so integral to each and every song, are performed at various points by Decker and multi-instrumentalist Doug Sellers, while Sellers also works with primary guitarist Marius Kozlowski to deliver the bold riffs and sharp solos that form the backbone of the band's sound. Again, the title track stands out for its upbeat riff patterns while the horror-themed keyboard atmosphere of "Serpentine Lullaby" make it an album highlight. "Captive Soul", one of the slower paced songs on the album, bears an '80s melodic rock quality due in large part to the keys and subdued riffs.

The slight vocal-musical disconnect notwithstanding, the only real weakness Princess of the Night has is that it leaves you with the overall impression that the band hasn't quite given all that they've got.  There are a lot of interesting ideas to be heard, particularly on album closer "Cross to Bear" which showcases Decker's voice in a nice, bardic cadence, but despite the revving of the engine Princess of the Night never really gets out of the garage.

Fans of both Gothic and symphonic/operatic metal will undoubtedly enjoy the latest offering from Mena Brinno, but I feel the band's best work is yet to come.

Track Listing
1Princess of the Night4:05
3Sonorous Dream4:00
4Serpentine Lullaby5:26
5Captive Soul4:07
7Drown Within5:10
8Cross to Bear3:36
Total Runtime35:48

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