EDGE OF PARADISE – HOLOGRAM
LABEL: Frontiers Music srl
RELEASE: July 14th, 2023
AUTHOR: Mike Smith
02. This Is Personal
03. Soldiers Of Danger
04. The Faceless
07. Don’t Give Up On Me
08. One More Time
10. Another Life
Trancending Illusions With HOLOGRAM
EDGE OF PARADISE is a metal band with symphonic, electronic, futuristic, cinematic and even some industrial and pop elements. The band is based out of the LA area and has actually been around quite a bit longer than many might realize. The band’s beginnings go back to 2011 when Margarita Monet and Dave Bates paths crossed during a freelance project. Rumor has it that he was so impressed with Margarita he sold his ’67 Chevelle to fund the first album. Since then they’ve gone through several member changes as they’ve refined their sound evolving into the current line-up consisting of Margarita Monet (vocals), Dave Bates (lead guitar), David Ruiz (rhythm guitar since 2017), Jamie Moreno (drums since early 2020) and newest addition Kenny Lockwood (bass since May 2022). Hologram will be the band’s 4th full-length studio album which is scheduled to be released July 14th on Frontiers Records. The record is a sort of futuristic and fictitious (or is it?) concept story, apparently to also become a graphic novel. The promotional material includes an outline of the concept the album and the story are based on. Basically it’s about an extraordinarily wealthy alien race from another planet trying to track down a priceless artifact from The Faceless people. This artifact is the key that enables them to sync with super-intelligent AI and establish perfect harmony with it. Each song is based on various parts of this story.
The album begins powerfully with an encounter on planet HD189733b. The spaceship (of which Margarita‘s character is the captain) has veered off course and landed on a mysterious planet that turns out to be the home of The Faceless people. The title track, “Hologram“, was released as a single in May with the video premiering later that month. It’s a powerful catchy upbeat song with a driving beat that only lets up briefly. About midway things slow down dramatically with an eerie sort of segue featuring Margarita‘s trademark, whispering: “It’s getting blurry it’s getting dark / I start to feel shards of glass / Thoughts of pain thoughts of death / Glitch it out out of my head”. As it builds back up Dave unleashes a ferocious solo! Margarita comes back in with another one of her wake the dead, almost ear-piercing trademark, high pitched vocal lines! The song closes with some sort of mechanical robot sounding voice, I can’t tell what it says. A fantastic song and a perfect choice for the album opener!
Things get personal on track 2 as Margarita announces that anyone who thinks she can be pushed around is seriously mistaken! She sings again in her sensual singing whisper, sorta what I imagine it might sound like if Marilyn Monroe did metal: “You look at me / And think I’m fragile / Come closer / Feel my iron core / You think you’ll talk to me / And sway my mind / I’m ahead of you / Because inside / You’re blind”. Crunching guitars, thumping bass, a stomping drum beat and subtle effects form the backdrop as they build up to the chorus: “Forces rise / Stars descend / I want you to face me / Cause this is personal”. “This Is Personal” is a hard hitting powerful catchy track that you’ll find lodged in your brain long after hearing it!
“Soldiers Of Danger“ was released as a single on March 24th along with a visualizer video released the same day followed by an official lyric video, so most of you are probably already familiar with this fantastic song! Lyrically it addresses the quest to rebuild reality: “Would you give your courage / To build a world / You may never know”. In order to do this they must become Soldiers of Danger: “I’ll be your aura / Shield you from sorrow / I’ll be your soldier / Soldier Of Danger”. Musically it’s a fairly slow paced heavy song with a sort of epic feel to it. Margarita sounds incredible, hitting notes that will shatter glass and perk up dogs ears from miles away!
Apparently slotted to be released as the next single, “The Faceless“ switches gears with a slow dramatic beginning, combined with more of the sensual singing whisper but gradually picks up a little. It begins with Margarita singing softly: “Who is the victor / Who is the victim / The victor and it’s not me or you”. After the first verse Margarita introduces the chorus as she belts out: “I am the faceless / I’m the last stand in front of you / The Victor But I hold the truth / I am the faceless”. It’s a slow, very big sort of anthemic sounding song. Obviously this one introduces us to the Faceless people, the song is sung from their perspective as they reveal their mission. Margarita sounds amazing with her vocals being the center of attention here. There is no guitar solo.
Track 5 is titled simply “Dark“. It ‘s got a really cool slow bass heavy groove throughout which forms the backbone of the song. In the lyrics Margarita describes how her character in the story longs for and develops a special bond with the leader of the Faceless to the point where they physically link together somehow. She sings: “Let me in beyond your thoughts / Reveal yourself let our spirits cross / Now we speak without words / Between the worlds Ignite the dark”. There’s a short melodic guitar solo. Clocking in at 5:09 this is the longest song on the album, and it’s fantastic!
“Unbeatable“ is a sort of an energetic, pop style track with that dance type beat they sometimes use. Margarita again alternates between that whisper style vocal and the super high register as is her pattern, but it works! The Faceless, we’re told in the promo material (which I’m guessing will probably be in the CD booklet as well) are feared across the galaxy and have developed a reputation of being extremely brutal and highly skilled at combat. The lyrics seem to sort of touch on that. In the huge and catchy chorus she sings: “You can try and break me down / I carry many scars / Go and break me down / I’m unbeatable / Inside my crimson skies”. Dave whips out a very nice guitar solo! The song closes with another chorus and Margarita attempts to break the sound barrier with some otherwordly notes from beyond the universe!
Next up is the incredible “Don’t Give Up On Me“. Margarita really shines on this one! Many have speculated, but this song confirms it, Margarita is not human! Some of the notes she hits on this song simply defy logic and surely the laws of nature and physics as it relates to the human vocal chords! The chorus is not only vocally impressive but it also invokes emotion: “Don’t give up on me / Don’t give up on me / And when you’re worlds apart / And when you’re in the dark / I’ll never I’ll never / I won’t give up on you”. Wow! She sings this with such passion and depth! I’m sure this relates to the concept story somehow but I can’t help thinking it goes deeper than that. She really pours her heart into this one! Musically it’s a dramatic and huge anthemic sounding theatrical piece with orchestration combined with big guitars, bass and drums. There’s also a really sweet melodic guitar solo with a short burst of shred. A really great song!
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Margarita does it! “One More Time“ on track 8, which is co-written with Margarita by David Ruiz. Our Faceless hero has suffered a mortal wound and as his life slips away Margarita‘s character in the story, who has formed a special bond with him, is overcome with grief but vows not to let his death be in vain: “If I could see you one more time / If I could hear you one more time / I’d try to make you smile / I’d try to make you smile / If I could see you one more time / If I could hear you one more time / I’ll never let you go”. This she also sings with enormous passion and emotion, pushing her voice up into the stratosphere! Musically the band lays down a heavy but fairly simple groove, flavoring it with subtle creative dynamics while keeping within the context of the flow of the song. There’s some interesting orchestration and synth also layered in and there’s no guitar solo. Another teriffic song!By now you’re all familar with this next fantastic song as it was recently released as a single. Some of you may have even seen them perform the song live on the 70,000 Tons Of Metal cruise or their recent US tour in support of Lacuna Coil. Of course I’m talking about the amazing “Basilisk“. In European bestiaries and legends, a basilisk is a legendary reptile reputed to be a serpent king, who causes death to those who look into its eyes. Margarita whispers: “You could say that I’m a villain / As deadly as a serpent’s kiss / And if you breath in my scent / I could leave you in torment / Hear my whispers / Slither in your head”. This is one of the heavier songs on the album and definitely one of my favorites! If you listen closely it sounds like Margarita even throws in a little growling vocals! I’m not quite sure how this fits into the concept of the album, maybe it’s some kind of cosmic creature they run into at some point, but who cares right? It freakin’ rocks!
The album closes with the majestic “Another Life“. It starts out slow as Margarita sings in her near whisper: “I’m standing at the crossroads / On the night of the lost souls / I feel frozen in time / Release me from myself / Take my humanity”. She appears to be describing linking up with the main protagonist of the Faceless where they discover each other’s and the universe’s deep secrets. The track gradually builds up, then they pull out all the stops with this one! Jamie lays down the thunder, breaks out the cannons and rips out some impressive double bass! Dave kicks out some pretty mean sounding riffs! Margarita soars like a solar flare shooting through the heliosphere!
There’s also a Japanese bonus track “Another Life (Piano Version)” which was included with my promotional material. Margarita sounds beautiful and powerful as the focus is solely on her voice and her piano. It’s very moving!
In summary: EDGE OF PARADISE has created another spectacular album! “Hologram“ picks up where the fantastic “The Unknown“ (2021) album left off. It continues the story taking us straight into the face of danger and musically builds on it’s strengths, taking a slightly heavier direction while not foresaking the other elements that fans have come to love and expect from the band. The album sounds incredible thanks in part to the skills of producer and recording engineer Mike Plotnikoff who has worked with the band since the 2017 EP “Alive“. Margarita has an incredible and unique voice that sounds like no one else I can think of. On “Hologram“ she demostrates an improved control and versatility combined with an advanced ability to write and sing an amazing huge and infectious chorus! The band is fantastic as well, but Margarita is so magnetic it’s hard not to focus on her. She is a beautiful multi-talented woman who not only sings and fronts the band, but she writes the lyrics, does much of the songwriting (along with Dave), plays the keyboards and piano, designs much of the visuals, paints and creates art inspired by the songs, has done acting and theater, she’s even listed as the executive producer of the album! According to their website tour schedule the band embarks on a European tour in August and then on December 1st they’ll play the “Life After Death Horror Fest“ in Mexico. Catch them live if you can!