THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON – METAMORPHOSIS
LABEL: Napalm Records
RELEASE: May 12th, 2023
AUTHOR: Mike Smith
01. Legends Never Die
02. The Gates Of Time
03. Misty Mountains (feat. Tom S. Englund)
04. Double Trouble / Lumos! (Hedwig´s Theme) (feat. Rusanda Panfili)
05. First Light (feat. Rusanda Panfili)
06. New Horizons (feat. Fabienne Erni)
07. The Wolven Storm (Priscilla´s Song)
08. May It Be (feat.Charlotte Wessels)
09. If I Had A Heart
10. The Hanging Tree
11. Jenny Of Oldstones
SHEDDING FIRST LIGHT ON THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON is a fairly new band based out of Germany and formed in 2021 by Ad Infinitum singer Melissa Bonny, Hans Platz, guitarist of Feuerschwanz, Jenny Diehl (on harp) also from the band Feuerschwanz and Morten Løwe Sørensen, drummer for Amaranthe. The band started because of a bet between Melissa and Hans. The loser of the bet owed the other a ‘dare’. Hans won the bet and challenged Melissa to record a metal version of “Jenny Of Oldstones“, a song made popular by the TV series Game Of Thrones. After hearing the song, Napalm Records offered them a deal to record a full-length album. The band began brainstorming ideas for other songs they could cover and transform, as well as writing three of their own. They feel that every song has an unexplored side just like the moon, hence the name, THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON. The album will be released on May 12, 2023. Before I begin, congratulations are in order! If you follow Melissa on her socials then you are already aware that Morten and Melissa are engaged to be married. And if you weren’t aware… Sorry guys, she’s taken! ;-D
“Metamorphosis“ begins with an incredible re-working of the song “Legends Never Die“. The song was originally written by the Riot Games Music Team and recorded by American pop rock band Against The Current. It was used exclusively for the 2017 League Of Legends World Championship. The band stayed true to the original melodies and arrangement, but made it much heavier and more powerful! Jenny begins the song’s beautiful melody with her harp, Morten adds some really creative beats and some nice double bass drums and Melissa does an incredible job with the vocals! Hans plays some awesome riffs and adds a really cool guitar solo. They also have a guest musician, violinist Rusanda Panfili, who is currently working with film score composer Hans Zimmer. They really crushed it with this version! I had never heard the original before but what a great song! A fantastic choice and the video, which was just released about 3 weeks ago, is beautifully shot and incredibly well done!
Up next is the very first original song written by the band called “The Gates Of Time“. This song just recently made it’s audio and video premiere. After being up for only a few hours the video already had over 50,000 views and in less than 24 hours it had over 100,000 views! It really is a fantastic song and the video is incredible! It was shot in a majestic location in Poland called the Pałac Marianny Orańskiej. It was built for Princess Marianne van Oranje-Nassau in the 19th century. Lyrically the song draws inspiration from the time traveling portals in the Legend Of Zelda series. Musically it’s an up-tempo track driven heavily by Morten‘s double bass groove. Lots of cruchy guitars and a very nice guitar solo from Hans! This guy can shred! At 4:35 this is the longest song on the album.
You’re in for another real treat with track number 3, “Misty Mountains“! It’s a re-interpretation of the song “Misty Mountains (Cold)“ from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It’s really amazing how they’ve taken just that short melody from the movie and turned it into an incredible song! This track features guest vocals by Tom S. Englund from Evergrey who sings some solo lines, then he sings together with Melissa. There’s a very cool instrumental section with a fantastic extended solo from Hans! Very impressive! I really love this one!
Track 4 “Double Trouble / Lumos! (Hedwig’s Theme)” is of course the theme music from Harry Potter. Another incredible metalization of a song and melody that I never would have imagined! It’s truly amazing how they’ve transformed this theme into a cinematic symphonic metal masterpiece! They’re joined once again by incredible violinist Rusanda Panfili who adds some truly fantastic melodies and orchestration! She even plays an amazing solo! She also appears in the video which gives the performance an extra boost of classical authenticity! It just now occurred to me that the band has no bass player! How I didn’t realize this until now really baffles me! I guess it just goes to show how interesting all the rest of the members are! It was recently announced on the band’s Facebook page that the bassist for Ad Infinitum, Korbinian Benedict, will be joining them on tour. This song has everything! Besides what I’ve already mentioned it also has growling vocals, a truly incredible guitar solo, amazing drums, dramatic stops and starts, lows and highs, even a short run of blast beats at the end! I could go on, but I won’t… Just a magnificent piece!
“First Light“ switches gears a bit. This is the second of the three original tracks the band wrote. It starts with a really cool mid-paced driving beat and riff which continues throughout much of the song. Violinist Rusanda Panfili joins the band again on this song as well and she spices things up with some beautiful melodies while Jenny plays some really tasty chords on the harp. Hans chimes in with another soaring solo and Melissa delivers plenty of her trademark incredible vocals and harmonies. Another great song proving again that the band can write some fantastic original material!
Next we have the third and final original song from the band titled “New Horizons“. This track features some really amazing vocals from Fabienne Erni of the band Eluveitie and more recently Illumishade. It’s a sort of symphonic power ballad which features beautiful harp melodies, some really incredible duets from Melissa and Fabienne and another fantastic guitar solo from Hans. The band takes us from beautiful lows to soaring highs and everything in-between! A terrific song!
Track 7, “The Wolven Storm (Priscilla’s Song)“, is taken from the video game The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The song is heard during the quest “Broken Flowers”. Priscilla sings this to Geralt in which she describes his feelings towards Yennefer. The original is a simple and beautiful song with only vocals and the lute. The way the band transforms this song into an amazing metal symphony complete with growls, huge choruses, powerful double bass drums, fantastic riffs and a ripping guitar solo is nothing short of amazing! It truly is incredible! One of the many highlights of the album for me for sure!
“May It Be“ was the second single and video released over a year ago back in March of 2022. It features a duet with Charlotte Wessels of course the former vocalist of Delain. The original version appeared in 2001 during the closing credits of The Lord Of The Rings – The Fellowship Of The Ring. It was sung by Irish vocal legend Enya. It’s an incredibly beautiful and powerful song which has been nominated for several awards. The lyrics of this theme song include English words as well as words in the fictional Elvish language Quenya created by J.R.R. Tolkien. The first part of the chorus delivers the lines “Mornië utúlië” which translates to “darkness has come”, while the second part is “Mornië alantië” which means “darkness has fallen”. Once again the original is very simple, vocals only with minimal orchestration. How the band re-imagines this song as this huge epic metal masterpiece is to me, just absolutely mind blowing! Melissa and Charlotte sound fantastic together! Another incredible song choice! They absolutely nailed it with this one!
I’m a huge fan of the Vikings series, I’ve watched all 6 seasons and loved every one! I’ve heard the theme song countless times but not once did I ever say to myself, wow that would make a great metal song! Now that I’ve heard this version of “If I Had A Heart“ I wonder how it never occurred to me! Another fantastic choice! This track is completely different from all the others! Morten lays down a tribal drum pattern for the foundation of the song which the band builds on with huge power chords accented with the hurdy gurdy. Melissa sings in a lower register for part of the song, growls in other parts, and even whispers some of her lines at one point. You really have to hear this to believe it! Another great song!
“The Hanging Tree“ was originally a folk ‘murder ballad’ sung from the perspective of the dead murderer. It featured orchestral strings and a choir. It was released in 2014 as the second single for the soundtrack of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 movie. Jennifer Lawrence (as Katniss) actually sang it herself in the movie just before the scene where many sacrificed their lives to blow up the dam. It’s a song she had learned from her father when she was a young girl. The song also plays over the closing credits. Another version was composed by American indie folk band The Lumineers. THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON‘s version is no ballad! It’s a fast paced metallic onslaught! It slows down only briefly then picks back up with a ‘Morten fueled’ double bass infused meltdown with Hans shredding right there with him! It’s a high-energy aural assault!
The album closes ironically with the track that was released as the first single and video for the album way back in August of 2021! The epic “Jenny Of Oldstones“, also known as “Jenny’s Song“, was taken from the Game Of Thrones series. The story behind the song is: it’s an adaptation of a fictional folk song mentioned in George R.R. Martin‘s fantasy novel series “A Song Of Ice And Fire“ on which Game Of Thrones is based. In the third novel in the series a mysterious elderly woods witch nicknamed The Ghost Of High Heart asks the singer Tom of Sevenstreams to perform “My Jenny’s song” as payment for her prophecies. Following in the pattern of the others, this song was simply vocals only with very minor accompaniment. The band has completely reinvented the song using the vocal melody as the basis. The Way Melissa sings it gives it so much more depth and emotion. She sounds fantastic and absolutely magical! The video is also really well done! Another incredible rendition!
Epilogue: What an adventure listening to and researching for this album has been! I felt that in order to give it the proper respect it’s due I had to look into the stories behind these songs. Not only that, but I was genuinely curious! It’s helped me to better understand and appreciate the album. Although I’m a huge fan of these shows, I didn’t know much of the information I’ve unearthed for this review, nor do I really remember hearing any of the original versions of the songs. I’m so glad I did a little digging! What a fantastic idea for an album! And what an amazing job the band has done transforming these songs into cinematic metal masterpieces! Not only that, but the three original songs they wrote are equally spectacular! Each musician is an incredible talent and the four of them coming together has produced a truly unique and special band! Whatever that bet was that Melissa lost, this is one time where losing a bet turned out to be an incredibly good thing! “Metamorphosis“ is the perfect title for this album because these songs have truly been morphed into something completely different! I have a feeling that what may have been intended to be a one off project is going to also morph into a band that will continue to be in high demand! May it be that this album is only the first light in the dawn of a new horizon for this great band!