Nevaria from Bavaria (!) are a relatively new addition to the Symphonic Metal fold. Formed in 2017 they have already shared billing with the likes of Xandria, Axxis and Sabaton and with this their debut studio offering look set to cast their Metal net even further. There’s plenty of experience from frontwoman Tanja Schneider (or Tanja Maul…or apparently Svenja Mills…depending a little on whether she was in Dawn Of Destiny, Emerald Edge, Dislocated Theory or other ventures) and with the line-up completed by keyboard player Markus Spiethaler, guitarist Kim Wölfel, bassist Kevin Deese and drummer Alexander Dahlen, there is no shortage of musical talent on offer.

On the whole the band’s sound will probably reside nicely in the Symphonic Melodic Metal camp, but never ones to put their metaphorical feet up by the campfire, Nevaria have plenty of heavy guitar in their arsenal which, nudges them enticingly towards Symphonic Heavy/Power Metal at times with the occasional surprise like ‘Raise Your Fist’ – a riff-driven slab of Speed Metal – to keep the listener on their toes. All the music is expertly delivered and is nicely varied and always interesting, crowned off with Tanja’s effrotless, class-oozing vocals. Professional and smooth as you like, there are elements of Delain, Lunatica, Eyes Of Eden, Leaves’ Eyes, Visionatica, Nemesea, Beyond The Black and Xandria (past and present) all mixed up into the band’s own sound.

There’s plenty of catchy hooks to draw you in, but the songs aren’t all about “getting you to the chorus” as there is so much going on in the song before you get there to enjoy – in the case of the excellent ‘Drowning’ I thought the chorus had happened twice before it actually got there when I first heard it, such is the memorability of the vocal lines up to that point. And as with the other tracks of the 11 on offer here, the music works in tandem with the vocals, neither trying to eclipse the other, just working in unity for the good of the song. There’s very occasional male vocals courtesy of Markus Spiethaler, but really they are only there for a little variation and atmosphere as Tanja’s vocals carry each song just fine on their own.

This is impressive stuff indeed! It’s like the band have launched themselves at the world halfway through their career (if you know what I mean), such is the maturity and delivery of the arrangements captured on “Finally Free”. It’s not an album saturated with ballads – just the rather sweet and heartfelt piano and vocal of ‘Control’ really – but instead there is plenty of light and shade in most tracks negating the need to chuck a load of Disney at the album which suits me just fine. Nevaria have totally hit the ground running and with plenty of good exposure and further releases of this ilk can easily become one of the front-runners of the genre. I very much look forward to following what should be an illustrious musical journey for them in the future!

(8.5/10 Andy Barker)