Album Review: Alexa De Strange – In Extremis

Alexa De Strange are a band based on the east coast of England, and have been going for some time. However, In Extremis is the first music I’ve heard from them and, I believe, their first full album.

Fronted by opera singer Francesca (“Frankie”), it’s no surprise that the band fall under the symphonic metal banner, making the most of her impressive vocal technique. That’s not to take away from the rest of the band, without whom we’d just have some great singing! Her main partner in crime seems to be Shannon Lee who co-wrote the majority of tracks and who plays guitar. But enough about the band themselves, what about the music?

The album contains a variety of musical styles ranging from the more metallic to the more melodic. The first track proper once you’re past the intros is the very catchy “I Am Monster”, which should be the lead single in my mind (check out the hard-hitting video below). Contrast this bouncy singalong number with the haunting “Paranoid” and you’ve just about got the range of songs on In Extremis. “Twilight Is Our Playground” is a rocker, “Whiteout” is epic in sound but not running length, and “Running From the Sun” shows that ADS can stretch a track out to over six minutes without it getting bored. Prog-influenced guitars and soundscapes hold this one together and it’s actually rather chilled.

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Reading the liner notes, a lot of the songs are marginally biographical and inspired by the darker side of the writers’ last few years. As a result, we have material that’s twisted, disturbing and in some places (the title track, woah) very hard-hitting indeed. That’s not to say you’ll come away from it all feeling depressed. If anything, the overall message seems to be quite uplifting. People go through shit, but they do get through it. In this case, music has been the catharsis, the release and those bad experiences have been kicked into touch and used to create something enjoyable.

There are a great number of symphonic bands out there today and to stand out you need something special. Alexa De Strange have that in Francesca’s incredible voice, but also offer something deeper if you tune into the lyrics. A very impressive release from yet another small, independent act that further entrenches our faith in the UK underground.

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In Extremis is released on July 12th

Check out all the bands we review in 2021 on our Spotify and YouTube playlists!

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