Review Summary: The Flame Within may not break boundaries, but it’s a great symphonic metal album in its own right.
The female fronted symphonic/gothic metal scene has been so overly done that it’s difficult to give props to an album that is fairly predictable and ultimately brings nothing new to the table. However, The Flame Within
has enough fire so as to burn the heart of any listener due to its sheer soul and breathtaking beauty. It’s quite easy to roll eyes over an overdone string section and piano, but this album is more tasteful than anything. While symphonic metal bands are often horribly blatant with their symphonic section, Stream of Passion feel their music. This means that the piano playing is delicate, the strings emotional, and the album is overwhelmingly pretty. This is the selling point of the album, and what a selling point it is - The Flame Within
is an absolute pleasure to listen to.
Unfortunately, what could be considered beautiful and moving to some could be considered plodding and boring to others. It takes a steady ear to enjoy something so delicate and non-immediate, especially when the album is peculiarly lengthy. Another downfall is the album’s predictability due to very little variation (for example, it feels as though piano parts clog every track). This is a shame for the music is quite compelling from an emotional standpoint, but with too much repetition we’re left with a weaker impact. Then again, it is highly commendable for a band to be so consistent, and those who like Stream of Passion’s style will undoubtedly eat this up.
While the album is undeniably pretty, symphonic/gothic metal requires a punch, and thankfully, this album is not lacking in that department. The lead guitar provides the necessary boost with scary, distorted riffs that paint the album with a decent shade of black. This is the only convincing gothic factor, however, and therefore The Flame Within
is more successful as a symphonic metal album than a gothic one. Perhaps there is a slight feeling of melancholy present, like the story of a lost love in a Shakespearean play, but such sadness is not the kind of misery that gothic metal calls for. However, The Flame Within
is a great album in its own right with stunning melodies, a proficient female singer, heavy guitars, and an elegant symphonic section. Perhaps it isn’t gothic enough or even that original, but it’s certainly enjoyable and that’s good enough.