Ex Libris has just released “Chapter 2: Anastasia Romanova” from their ongoing Ann trilogy. Those not familiar with how Ann is being released, let me give a quick explanation. Ann was successfully crowd funded through an online campaign and the band is releasing the album in three chapters. They will release a chapter every few months, until all three have been released. “Chapter One: Anne Boleyn” was an absolute masterpiece and you can read the review on that chapter HERE. Chapter one was quite simply one of the best releases of 2018.
But it is now time to dive into Chapter 2. I was so impressed with the release about Anne Boleyn, I had no idea how Ex Libris would equal, let along top that release. If you do not know the story of Anastasia Romanova, I suggest you start by reading about her HERE. It is the story about the youngest daughter of the last Tsar of Russia Nicholas II. It is a very sad story told by the amazing music and vocals from Ex Libris.
The first song on the new three song EP is Motherland. The song starts with a very gothic musical opening. After that Dianne Van Giersbergen opens with her amazing operatic influenced vocals. Dianne is one of the most gifted vocalists on the planet and a pure joy to listen to. The song begins to pick up pace and the music along with the vocals start to feel very Russian. It is amazing how in the first minute you feel transported back in time to Russia like you are actually in the story. Ex Libris and Dianne have an amazing gift to make you feel like you are actually part of the album itself. Before the musical solo, Dianne lets off a scream that is amazing. Bob Wijtsma (Guitars) and Koem Stam (Keyboards) provide progressive style guitar and keyboard solos throughout the album. The way they play off of each other is a great tribute to how in tune they are to the music and each other. Luuk Van Gerven (Bass) and Harmen Kieboom (Drums) round off a very talented group of musicians. Musically this song is symphonic, progressive and metal all rolled into one. As the song rolls on to the finish it has completely captivated the listener. Towards the end the Russian influence has completed washed over you as well. Dianne ends the song with one of her classic voice overs that is so full of emotion. After one song you feel like you are reading a book you just can’t put down. You feel like you must listen to the next song.
Song two The Healer starts off very gently. Dianne’s voice a bit haunting and memorizing at the same time. This time the music comes at you with a feeling of purpose. It feels like a military march coming right at you. The atmosphere of this whole album is so well done, there is nothing I can compare it to. The song is unrelenting and feels like it is chasing you down. If fits perfectly with the story. If you take a minute to read the link above about Anastasia, you will really understand the whole album much better. I am not touching on the story much, because I would like the listener to read it on their own and experience it with the music. It is so much more powerful that way. Dianne has some high pitched vocal parts in this song that hold the listener in the moment. I can’t get over how the whole song feels like a well timed military march as a symphonic / progressive metal song. It is a song that must be experienced, as my words can’t do it justice.
As we reach the conclusion of the second chapter of the Ann release, we have been taken on a journey to Russia and learned of Anastasia and can feel what is to come. The Exile will conclude this chapter in grand fashion. The song starts with the music chaotic and feels very deliberate. Dianne continues the story with her powerful vocals and soaring high ends. The chorus once again takes us back deep into Russia. The perfect atmosphere of the entire album continues. The chaotic music returns with a nice solo worked in, Dianne’s voice starts to get angry and full of emotion. The song is a rollercoaster ride of emotions, sounds, vocals and music. The song is literally larger than life. There is a lot of progressive music and solos spread all throughout this song that are very intense. The last note of the second solo takes us to a very dark place. The music turns very somber, leaving the listener feeling a sad despair. Dianne’s voice is now soft and feels like it is trying to comfort with no avail. The Russian march feel returns as the song continues. I have no idea how anyone can write such a grand song. There is so much here to take in. As we get towards the end, Dianne is channeling Anastasia begging for her life. It is sad, chilling and so emotional. I have never had a song take me to such a dark place. Even as I write about it, it tugs at my heart in a very sad and profound way. The song finishes with a very Russian feel that leaves you emotionally drained.
Chapter One about Anne Boleyn took us on such an incredible ride, I had not idea what to expect from Chapter Two about Anastasia Romanova. What we got was the most emotional album I have ever listened to in my life. It is an album that is beautiful, raw, emotional and very sad at the end. For an album to touch so many human emotions in three songs is an amazing accomplishment. This will most definitely be one of the finest releases of 2019.
Purchase the album HERE!