Russian Symphonic Melodic Metal band Estate have had a bit of a re-assess in the past 4 years. “Fantasia” was a more than credible Symphonic/Melodic/Power Metal debut, relying as it did on good tunes and memorable melodies, but possibly lacking that final kick, that slap in the face needed to really drive some of the songs home with conviction. But that was 2014 and now they are back with a heavier attitude, some progressive rhythms and a new-found energy.

Estate always had the talent and elements needed within their ranks to create their new sound and right from the off, the speedy, dynamic title track is instantly evoking influences such as Iron Savior, Primal Fear, Heaven’s Gate, Sinner and Iron Fire. Real, classic European Power Metal at it’s roots, but all the band’s symphonic leanings are equally still present, giving the whole album a polished and mature feel, quite beyond a band who are just on their second full album.

They mix their tempos splendidly, skipping from galloping Melodic Power Metal to pounding, varied Progressive Symphonic epic-ness (on tracks like ‘Winter Kingdom’ for example), bringing good cohesion to proceedings and giving the album excellent flow. Vocalist Iliand Ferro is theatrical in delivery, living every lyric with utter conviction, which is very refreshing – backed by full-bodied choppy and chunky riffs and pounding, varied rhythms. There’s some nice accomplished lead work that adds suitable sparkle along with the unobtrusive topping of symphonic keyboard work that dances in and out of the music, adding extra levels to each track. It’s very nearly all good news for me…if it wasn’t for the dreadful ballad ‘Silvery Skies’, filled to the brim with cheesy lyrics, polite piano and Disney-soaked vocal lines utilizing occasional forced vibrato, that results in an all-round yuk-fest that I personally cringe all the way through. But moving swiftly on…

I’m guessing anyone with appreciation of Estate’s style of Metal will know the Malmsteen-linked names of Mats Leven (Candlemass, Krux, ex-At Vance etc.) and Mark Boals (Ring Of Fire, ex-Royal Hunt etc.)? Well Estate round the album out with guest appearances from these two doing their vocal versions of tracks that were aired expertly earlier on the album – ‘Matter Of Time’ and ‘Knight Of Time’ respectively. Now you don’t get respected vocalists like that to guest on your album if you are a bag of crap do you? And Estate are no bag of crap – far from it – they are talented musicians who recognized that they already possessed all the credentials they needed and took the time to evolve and grow into a band that can create something with the depth, power and diversity on display here.

(7.5/10 Andy Barker)