June 10, 2024

If Xeneris represents a rebirth from the ashes of Kalidia then it seems to me that they’ve come out a stronger band and Eternal Rising is going to be one of the most highly rated power/symphonic metal albums of 2024.  

Despite only releasing two albums in their decade-long career, Kalidia were one of the most influential and globally recognized Italian melodic power metal units.  After the split last year, two members of Kalidia, singer Nicoletta Rosellini and drummer Dario Gozzi, formed Alterium, while the remaining pair, guitarist Federico Paolini and drummer Roberto Donati have put together Xeneris.  Since Paolini was the primary writer for Kalidia, the inevitable question is whether Xeneris sound like Kalidia. The answer is definitely ‘yes’, and in a recent interview Paolini candidly admitted some of the songs that appear here were written in anticipation of there being a third Kalidia album.

Federico Paolini

The title track was chosen as the lead single and it gives a good flavour of what to expect from Xeneris. It’s fast enough to put it in the power metal category but there are lush strings giving a nice symphonic edge, and as is so typical with Italian music, it remains strongly melodic. The female vocalist who goes simply by the stage name of Maryan has an impressively powerful voice that is perhaps more suited than Rosellini to this faster-paced material. And if you watch the video below and wonder whether the drummer should be at school rather than in a rock band….. well, Stefano Livieri is 18 years old (barely). It’s a bit unusual to see a drummer of such tender years in a high-profile group, but he can certainly play. Eternal Rising is a decent choice as a single, or at least a safe one, although I found the very similarly structured Barbarossa to be more of an earworm.

Paolini is certainly in good creative form: Before The River Of Fire and The Glorious Flight both have brilliant fast and rhythmic riffs, forming the basis of two of the highlights of the album. In contrast, the pounding start to Pandora’s Box could have been the basis of an outstanding mid-paced heavy rock song but then the typical double bass surges in and takes it in a traditional power metal direction.

There are several excellent songs that veer more towards a symphonic metal style. Scilla And Cariddi, is one of these, a galloping symphonic metal piece with a memorable hook line. To The Endless Sea is another example with a good swinging rhythm and strong interjections of orchestral synths. At only three and a half minutes long, it’s the shortest track on the album. On the other hand, only one track breaks the five-minute barrier, reflecting that this is a concise album with absolutely no fluff. Solos are kept short and sweet and are more effective for that.

The strongest track to these ears is Shahrazad which has another great riff and a deliciously lush Eastern feel.  If Led Zeppelin reformed and decided to rewrite Kashmir in a symphonic metal style then it might sound pretty much like this! Listen to the unexpected but gorgeous vocalising during the one moment of calm in the song too. Power metal albums can often seem one-paced (i.e. a fast one!) but Eternal Rising is full of contrast and variety with possibly the fastest track, the thrilling The Glorious Fight, followed by a dramatic mood change with the one ballad, the closing Equinox.  

Eternal Rising apparently has a concept to it, narrating the phoenix’s cycle of death and rebirth (thus explaining the impressive cover art). Paolini states that ‘it’s a concept very representative of our musical journey that is reborn and continues’. If Xeneris represents a rebirth from the ashes of Kalidia then it seems to me that they’ve come out a stronger band and Eternal Rising is going to be one of the most highly rated power/symphonic metal albums of 2024.