The debut EP from one-woman symphonic metal artist Rhenium couldn’t have arrived at a better time. It comes riding the wave of the genre’s renaissance of the last few years, which has seen the likes of Delain, Epica, and Nightwish release career-defining albums: inspiring a new generation, spearheaded by bands such as Temperance, to breathe fresh air into the scene.
Rhenium’s Cristina Pucci is poised to be a key player in this movement. Her debut EP, Rise Above the Sea, is the product of two years’ work for the Italian-born, England-based musician. And it shines through on this debut: a testament to the dedication and skillful songwriting exhibited by the ambitious new artist.
Despite the scale of her sound, it is, for the most part, a success. She identifies Evanesence, Within Temptation, and Stream of Passion as influences, and fans of such groups will find a lot to like in Rhenium’s lush soundscapes. The dynamic keys layered over a solid rock foundation create a rich, melancholic atmosphere, harking back to the more considered moments in the early works of groups like Epica and Nightwish.
There are two fundamental problems with this record, however. The first is Pucci’s voice: it unfortunately doesn’t live up to the scale of what’s going on around it. That said, she clearly has a talent for writing both vocal and instrumental melodies, so hopefully this will be something which can be improved over time. The second is a lack of variety over the EP’s six tracks. It must be stressed that this is a hugely accomplished record, and Rhenium demonstrates her ability to write mournful, mid-paced pieces worthy of some of the genre’s greats. But one of the things which makes the symphonic genre so wonderful is its variety, and, in particular, its willingness to push the conventions of heavy metal and create music with over-the-top bombast. Rise Above The Sea is curiously devoid of such big, powerful anthems, despite the crescendo of ‘Nobody Can Hear Me’ showing that Rhenium is very capable of writing in this style. It would be great to see a willingness to experiment with such textures on future releases.
Rise Above The Sea is therefore a highly accomplished debut, exhibiting the talents of a gifted multi-instrumentalist with a real appreciation for symphonic metal. If Rhenium continues to apply this level of dedication to some more experimental future releases, Cristina Pucci could be a big part of a really exciting time for the genre.
Rise Above The Sea is released on 27 March.