Symphonic Metal act Anzeria was formed by vocalist Damla Kayıhan in early 2009 in Istanbul-Turkey. Known for both their original songs like “Dibace” and some very unique covers like “Only Time Knows” from Prince of Persia, the band have built a healthy reputation with performances at Festivals and gigs as well as the equivalent of Bloodstock’s Metal To The Masses competition in their homeland. Taking a break in 2014, they reformed in 2020 with unfinished business on their minds and recorded new album “Holy Defy“. Their return sees them continue to work with its three root members in female vocalist Damla Kayıhan, guitarist Çağrı Çarhacıoğlu and guitarist and male vocalist Mehmet Erkut Atay, while for this new record session musicians Mert Gezgin (drums), Esra Gezgin (keyboards) and Koray Onur Alarslan (orchestrations) lend a hand.
The instrumental parts of “Holy Defy” were recorded at the bands home-studio in 2020 with the the vocals being recorded at a Studio Circus in Istanbul, Turkey and in all honesty, you can’t tell the difference between the home studio and the professional one, such is the quality of the material. As with Power Metal, Symphonic Metal as a genre tag can be a bit of a misnomer and you never quite know what you’re going to get until you actually listen to the music. Balance as key as avoiding style over substance and fortunately Anzeria have chosen a less is more approach to the synths and Orchestration aspects, letting the vocals and the guitars do the talking while adding embellishments that provide another dimension rather that overpowering the whole thing. The most obvious comparison when listening to Anzeria is Portuguese natives King Baal, as both share soaring female clean vocals while having skull crushing unclean male ones that provide a complete contrast. Single and opening track “Web Of Lies” is an absolute genre powerhouse, blending Traditional Metal riffs with synth embellishments that work really well and provide a well rounded start that simply says “we’re back!”. There is distinctive Iron Maiden feel to the guitars “The World’s Rising” as they gallop through parts of the song while a vocal trading line for line clean for unclean creates a stunning effect and we haven’t even mentioned the face melter of a solo. Completely unexpected given the way in which the early material comes together, it’s something that those air guitar competitions were made for. Title track “Holy Defy” starts with a dark and brooding atmosphere of heavier guitar work and cinematic Orchestration while also having a brave and bold drop out to a more melodic and almost folk like chorus. The two different styles are brought together by Kayıhan’s stunning vocals while the Death Metal growl that rises from the depths is something that can shatter any mirror.
“Yokluktan Once” is a song in the bands native tongue, translating to “Before Nothing” and has a wonderful rise and fall to it as well as having slower more relaxed solo. Those songs where you’re not able to understand the lyrics can be a challenge but the quality of the music means it’s easy to get lost in the moment which is exactly how it should be. Keeping the follow of the record intact and building the energy and dynamic, “Hour Of Reaper” moves from well crafted more melodic leanings through an electrifying solo as Kayıhan calls the reaper and waits for death, seeking freedom for her soul. The emotional warmth of the vocals give the lyrics that much more gravity and that contributes to both “Kangren” (or “Gangrene”) and “Kayboldum” (or “I’m lost“), which build on those meloncholic tones while also packing a punch it’s own, with swaiths of aching melody underpinned with crunchy riffs. Despite the Symphonic Metal stylings there is a Gothic feel to the album and Kayıhan’s achingly beautiful vocals depict her as a damsel in distress. Together Anzeria create the right balance and that is key to the success of “Holy Defy“. [7.5/10]