Early 2014, two French musicians and a female French vocalist got together with the goal of creating original music; a combination of metal, classical music, electronica, jazz and progressive rock. The sky was the limit. The ambitious trio found permanent band members who were open to the idea. The lineup ended up in; Audrey Dandeville as vocalist, Alexandra Vallet as violin player, Stéphane Arnaud, who plays both keyboards and clarinet, guitarist Geoffrey Lebon and drummer Lois Arnaldi. The booklet also mentions their sound engineer Nicolas Mortier as a band member. Along with many guest artists their debut album Dissidence was released at the very end of 2015.
Irradiance shows an experimental and progressive approach to orchestral metal. Hardly comparable to any other band. Sometimes the sound reminds me of Dream Theater; but only during the solos, Nightwish during the Tarja area, Epica, and Xandria.
After several sessions of intensive listening, it turned out Dissidence is a complicated album. Probably an album you love or you will listen to once and that will barely return to your player. Irradiance plays a fine powerful form of progressive metal, filled with nice djenty staccato guitars and strong guitar solos that fit. The combination of guitars with the fierce double bass drums and pleasantly present keyboards and piano parts is really worth listening to. But where I had a different style of vocals in mind, it turns out Audrey has a voice that follows the classical Tarja Turunen progressive/gothic metal style, with the focus on the higher segment. For the fans of female fronted music who are into an overwhelming amount of classical elements, this is absolutely a must, but they might have their doubts when the riffs of Until The Last One indicate another style of metal then they are used to. For me the modern sounding keys and the fantastic guitar sound make the instrumental parts quite brilliant, but the over the top vocals do not really do the trick for me. There is also a guest vocalist present, sharing the classical vocals on this song. In the end I guess Irradiance are putting (too) many musical ideas into each song, something that might confuse the listener. The following Theorists Of The Void seems to be a “regular” composition, but close to the end the song takes a turn towards smooth jazz, with sax and trumpets. Something I do like and appreciate, but in my opinion Audrey has a classical voice, which hardly suits the jazz part of the song. All My Days also combines a lot of different kinds of music, the opening part reminds a bit of Within Temptation, but soon the soprano vocals takes the song over the top again, a nice old school metal guitar solo does save it for me. During Forget-me Nots the pure jazz returns and again the voice does not convince me during those parts. What does convince me are the amazing instrumental parts where jazz trumpet and metal guitar meet each other, creating something special.
Like I wrote earlier, Dissidence is an intense album that puts a lot of different styles in each song. Personally I like the heaviness of the instrumentalists in combination with the melodic piano and keyboards and the violin does add a special touch to the music. Fans of the classical voice of Tarja and voices alike, certainly will find a lot they love on this album. Even more when they also dig the extra power the instrumentalists provide. For me the vocals are the breaking point in Irradiance's music; a bit overdosed on the classical aspect, the more when you listen to her “regular” voice, which is just great.
***+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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