Fatima Hill - Aion

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Worldchaos Production
Catalog Number: KDM-008
Format: CD
Total Time: 47:37:00

The most overall pleasant track to listen to on Fatima Hill's Aion is "Other" mainly due to the rich vocals of Yuko. Sure, they are in the style of many a female fronted metal band, but many of them have that right mix of lilt and warmth and power and that is true on this track as well. It also sounds familiar? White Willow comes to mind? Two of the three that follow also find vocalist Yuko in fine voice. Now, until you look at the credits, you might think that they should let her sing more often than the Bruce Dickinson like vocalist for the rest of the album --- however, that voice comes from the very same vocal chords as that on "Other." Yup, Yuko. And to look at her picture, you wouldn't expect her sing that way. Like Dickinson and many others, lyrics are delivered with an extra flourish, the concluding note raised to the rafters. As LarryD and Ripz have mentioned in their reviews, there's a bit of early Geddy Lee in there, too. Other than that, it is the typical metal style, and while it works for me with Dickinson (and Lee), it doesn't here as I think Yuko is more comfortable in the darkened, husky, yet feminine vocals of "Other," and "Stigmata." For the most part the vocals get lost in the music, as they become more a sound than actual vocals. This ties in with nearly everything - guitar (Anjue Yamashiro), drums (guest Akihito Sato), bass (Hayato Asano) and keyboards (Takamichi Koeda) - being mixed at the same level. Yamashiro does break out for solos.

The album opens with heavy, throbbing "Ares Dragon," that has prog metal tendencies. But Iron Maiden will come to mind with the very next track "Babel Dune," a track seemingly theorizing about the meaning of the "face" found on Mars. We get a different aspect of the band with "The Black Bat." A middle-eastern motif provides the foundation for a nicely textured track, featuring some steady bass work from Asano, swirling, sometimes string like keyboards from Koeda, all leading into a much warmer guitar solo from Yamashiro, who also brings in acoustic sounding textures. It is lighter in tone overall and though it doesn't entirely eschew its 80s hard rock-ness, it is another that veers close to prog metal. "Ultimata" returns to an 80s style, chugging metal groove? a ballsier, deeper voiced Pat Benatar perhaps with a heavier backing band. This has a driving, foot tapping rhythm that can become infectious. But towards the end, Yuko screams more than sings the vocals? I usually find such unbridled expression cathartic?

For variety there's "Aeon" which features vocals, bass, and electric mandolin for a folk-like piece, though I would have liked a little more warmth in the guitar and keys. Koeda's plinking piano like notes are too sharp and precise, adding to the coldness that is only offset by Yuko's vocals. As with his guitar playing elsewhere, I find Yamashiro's playing shrill (the exception being the above mentioned "The Black Bat" and some of "Ultimata").

Musically, well, the band gets more interesting with these latter pieces, too. More prog metal than traditional metal. "The Song For Beatrice Part 3 ( The Seven Songs)" is an epic piece that follows on from the pastoral atmosphere of "Aeon" (that is, acoustic guitars, electric mandolin), becomes even more folksy for a passage or two with the electric mandolin and the sound of plucked strings. Within short order, things begin to swell upward - some nicely symphonic keys here. Yuko does strain here a bit in the latter vocal section, trying to be heard above the dense arrangement.

You get the idea that Yamashiro's trying to incorporate a little of every world - prog metal, 80s metal, folk, world, and rock. Aside from the mentioned shrillness, and the need for warmer, more balanced production, what results in Aion is a better than average release. The overall performances give it that extra nudge up the scale, though things do seem a little chaotic in "Ares Dragon" (at least to me).

Ares Dragon (6:05) / Babel Dune (3:58) / The Black Bat (4:23) / Aeon (4:24) / Ultimata (6:37) / Other (6:24) / Stigmata (6:24) / The Song For Beatrice Part 3 (The Seven Songs) (9:20)

Yuko - voice and chorus
Anjue Yamashiro - guitars, electric mandolin
Takamichi Koeda - keyboards
Hayato Asano - bass


Akihito Sato - drums

Valhalla (1997)
Aeon (2002)
The Snow Tower (2009)

All Rain All Friends All Rain Song And Rain (DVD) (2005)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin JP

Added: April 20th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.fatima-hill.com
Hits: 1259
Language: english


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