Time to don your budgie-smugglers and wade out into the deep waters of Operatic Symphonic Metal with the debut offering from Portuguese band Glasya. This particular sea can get pretty choppy and rather crowded with big fish around, so although everything looks calm and serene on the surface, we’d better pop a snorkel on and have a peek at what lies beneath the waves.

Glasya was founded by guitarist Hugo Esteves and features within it’s ranks musicians from many Portuguese Gothic/Symphonic Metal bands including Enchantya, Urban Tales and My Deception. The bar is already set pretty high, but these musicians know what they are doing. The line-up is rounded out by vocalist Eduarda Soeira, who is known in her native land for fronting Nightwish tribute act Nightdream, so she knows exactly how to belt out a tune or two with feeling! This also means that comparisons with Nightwish will be evident, but refining things a little there is a reminiscence of Amberian Dawn, Xandria and Visions Of Atlantis, with a little Edenbridge on the slower moments like ‘Birth Of An Angel’.

There’s plenty of orchestration on display right from the start, which never particularly dominates, but occasionally carries a song a little more than it needs – there are two guitarists on this album, and personally I’d like to hear them a little more, but hey, that’s probably just me. Also it’s personal preference that I think the band are at their best when they nudge towards the heavy side of Symphonic Metal like on the attention-grabbing ‘Neverland’ for instance, but then it’s no coincidence given my previous statement that this track is more rhythm and guitar driven. It also possesses a memorable chorus, but then so do most of the tracks. This is something Glasya do really well, each song doesn’t obviously steer the listener towards a chorus, but makes sure there is usually a catchy vocal hook waiting somewhere to snag you in (‘No Exit From Myself’ and the Leaves’ Eyes-style ‘Coronation of a Beggar’ being notable examples in totally contrasting styles!), which keeps everything unpredictable and interesting.

The mix on the album is possibly a little vocal-heavy, so it’s fortunate that Eduarda has the voice to carry it, but sometimes it feels like they have sat her voice on top a bit, making it dominate and relegating the music to a backing rather than a companion. But if this is the only particular negative I can find then things can’t be bad! Besides, this album is the band’s debut and musicians confidence and experience will grow with each subsequent release. It’s a damn fine debut at that, but as I said, these are historically crowded waters with many dangers threatening to pull you under if you don’t swim hard enough from the shore. No inflatable training bands for Glasya though, this is powerful attention grabbing stuff, and it is obvious that they can keep riding the Symphonic tides effortlessly for many years and I certainly look forward to following them on their voyage.

(7.5/10 Andy Barker)