Constraint-Enlightened by Darkness
A few facts about the band:
Constraint is an Italian symphonic,alternative metal band from Modena (2011) consisting of five band members: Beatrice Bini (vocals), Alessio Molinari (lead-guitars), Alessandro Lodesani (drums), Simone Ferraresi (keys) and Federico Paglia (bass). They published their first Demo named “Illusion of a Dream” in 2012. The band started as a cover band from bands such as Epica, Nightwish and Evanescence.
About the new album:
On February 12th, 2016 they were back with a self-produced nine track album, named “Enlightened By Darkness”. The album was recorded, mixed and mastered at Art Distillery Studios by Claudio Muks. In March 2016 they reached a new milestone by signing a deal with promo agency Atomic Stuff.
The overall topic of the album deals with psychological and philosophical themes.
What can you expect from the album? :
Thunderous drumming, overarching guitar riffs, beautiful melodies and arrangements as well as a melancholy, catchy keyboard playing and a soprano or kind of opera singing style are dominant characteristics of the album. Despite the fact that the music is really good, you will not get around the fact that it sounds like Nightwish or even has similar melodies. It is a bit sad because the music has potential and unites a lot of details and ideas.
In the following I will give you a few examples and lead you through the tracks:
The first track “Behind the scene” is such an example. The first 30 seconds you think that you listen to a Nightwish song. The beginning of the song is really similar to the song “The Kinslayer”(0:00-0:11). Later on you will definitely be reminded of Storytime (until 0:22). I do not have a problem with artists following the same musical pattern or structure, such as bands like Nightwish but not if it is too obvious. After my first Nightwish association, the song starts with the soprano singing by Beatrice Bini. The song encompasses a magic but also dark atmosphere. The chorus has a catchy spirit and the guitar playing is really awesome and the best part of the song. In my opinion, the singer has good soprano vocals but sounds nasally in the deeper notes. You can hear that at the beginning of her singing for example. Her high soprano notes are great but she should emphasize/pronounce some of the words a bit more clearly because otherwise her singing gets monotonous and it is also very hard to understand her. For me, the lyrics are very important but I could not understand them.
“Talking Dumbs“ is the second track and offers much energy, difficult, complex arrangements and at the same time easy but catchy keyboard playing. The keyboard playing is very dominant here among the guitar which also repeats the melody of the keyboard. I highlight the music because it is dynamic, easy to follow and the solo parts are really beautiful.
With the third track “Ending of time”, it is almost the same problem I had with the first track “Behind the Scence”. The first chords are really similar to the Nightwish song “Elan” but luckily they differ later on. When you listen to the beginning of the song you simply want to start singing: (…) Come, surf the clouds, race the dark…etc. But the melody changes and you will forget about it. The calm and soft keyboard playing, which is accompanied by strings, turns into a faster and heavier direction (drums, guitars) in the middle part of the song. After that, Beatrice’s singing starts and opens the song. Her voice is very light and high and forms a contrast to the heavier guitar. In the background, you will hear the keyboard that gives you support, strings, and transverse flute (orchester). I’m again impressed by the guitars (solo parts) that make the song dynamic, energetic and versatile. The song ends with a beautiful keyboard playing and builds a frame to the beginning. The song has a lot of details you will get to know after listening to it a few times. I appreciate the fact that they do not leave anything to chance. For me the overall atmosphere of the song is optimistic and vivid.
“Illusion of a Dream” starts with an interesting beginning by using transverse flute. The dreamy ballad is dominated by Beatrice’s fine and beautiful high soprano voice. The high notes remind me of the voice of Simone Simons and will be supported by beautiful flute and keyboard playing. The drums and guitars give the song its depths and more variation as well.
The track “The Birth” starts and passes through a heavy and electronic vibe. Beatrice uses a lot of different elements to put her voice in scene, for instance the haunting whispering parts of Beatrice and the use of the hall effect. She also hits a wide range of notes here.
The sixth song “Breathing Infinity” and eighth song “ Autumn Hymn” are both slow songs, standing out for the best vocal parts of the whole album. You can hear a clean and beautiful transition of her voice, especially from her middle voice into her head voice (In the sixth song for example from 0:35-0:41 and more). The use of different instruments such as violin, cello, harp make the songs diversified and interesting. The beautiful keyboard playing gives the songs a slightly dreamy and partly melancholy spirit. One aspect I would like to mention is that the beginning of “Autumn Hymn”, especially in seconds 0:27-0:29 reminds me of Amaranth by Nightwish. Try to imagine you would sing the line : (…) he can do alone.
The last two songs “Enlightened by Darkness“ (track 7) and “Oniria“ (track 9) are musically my favorites and the best of the album. For me these songs represent the music I would love to hear from the band because it is individual and different. The self-titled track “Enlightened by Darkness” is also very catchy and overall awesome. The track is also surrounded by a positive but also mystical mood. I’m also very impressed that every instrument has its part in the song to show its skills but without the feeling of being out of line. They harmonize very well. I also love the fast parlando part of Beatrice: “Tedious repetition of mechanical actions, automatic in my everyday life etc.” because she emphasizes the words very well. Her voice has a warm color but is also a bit penetrant in the song. Furthermore, the song includes great solo parts. The last track “Oniria” has the most fantastic and danceable folklore beginning, produced by pipes. I would also highlight the great orchestration and the successful and surprising turning point (2:38). Together with the short choir elements it is just brilliant and fits perfectly.
In my opinion, it is a solid, very detailed, playful and well mixed and produced album. Sometimes I really miss the own style of the band. I found too many similarities to bands like Nightwish and it is really sad because the band has musical creativity. That is the reason why I was so surprised by the songs “Oniria” and “Enlightened by Darkness” because there I feel (hear) their own sound and influences and I love all of the small details they put in these songs. Moreover, I would like to give an advice to the singer to work on her articulation because she sometimes swallows words or does not pronounce the words clearly enough and that is the reason why it is not so easy to understand her. It would also give the songs more variation and fluency. The last thing I noticed is that her deep tones sound nasal but her high notes are very clean, pure and beautiful. In my opinion, the guitars and the keyboard are brilliant.
Best tracks (musically): Enlightened by Darkness and Oniria
Best tracks (lyrically): Breathing Infinity and Autumn Hymn