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Karma - 'Illusions' http://mail.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/70/66/a9/karma-illusions-19-1568967892.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 19, 2019    
 
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A mighty fine release.

Although this is the third album from Athens-based Karma, it really is the start of their Metal phase as prior to this release they were mainly a Rock and ballads band who predominantly sang in their own language. It really is quite remarkable that they've decided to pursue a genre as intricate as Symphonic Progressive Metal and pulled it off with such aplomb whilst incorporating Greek traditional music amongst other influences.

Vocalist Anna Manolaraki is the only original member left from the group that started in 1998. She first performed keyboards before taking up singing lessons in 2005, the year after Vassilis Drakontaidis (aka Billy Dragon) joined as keyboardist/vocalist and instigated their rise from covers band to the act they are now with three published albums to their credit.

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The genesis of this release dates back to 2013 when Manolaraki and Drakontaidis recruited guitarist Stathis Lianos in 2015 to add the "Metal" touch. They also added drummer Leonidas Viglakis who started pre-production but then suffered health issues, so Tasos Morphopoulos was asked to record drums instead. Bass duties were handled by session guitarist George Boulmanos but Stefanos Koutsouropoulos is now the new official bassist in the group since January 2018.

Overall, there is a huge, grandiose feel to the album with time changes and traditional Greek instrumentation, particularly on 'Ode To Foreign Lands' which is a curious mix of Metal rhythms and Greek Folk. 'Path Of Light (Prophecy I)' is very dramatic and epic in nature, and a filmed video is available with a Medieval setting and warriors doing battle. 'Bullying Scars' is also epic in nature with its Progressive time changes, wonderful singing and great bass/drum rhythmic work alongside the tasty riffing. 'The Valkyrie Calls' features none other than celebrated Symphony X bassist Mike LePond in a song that is melodic in nature with male growls and Symphonic choirs. Another featured guest is singer Panagiotis Konstantinidis from Crush, a band that features original Karma bassist Akis Zervos and also Drakontaidis. The title-track 'Illusions' is like a study of Kamelot and it is superb!

As befits their long-standing covers phase, they've included a Symphonic keyboard-infused cover of Metallica's 'Master Of Puppets' which incorporates Greek instrumentation and keyboard solo flourishes. It's as bizarre as that sounds, but surprisingly it doesn't fall into a messy failure as there are enough Metal elements keeping it true to the original. Everything considered, this is a mighty fine release!

Carl Buxton

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