By Jonathan Smith
If there is any potential still to be found in metal that is distinguished by a vague fantasy and mythology themes with an emphasis on female-fronted operatic vocals, it isn’t terribly obvious when listening to Romania-based Magica’s album Wolves & Witches. The album is a very energetic and guitar-driven one, complemented by vocalist Ana Mladinovici‘s high-pitched voice and precision synth-playing. At the same time, the whole effort has a very compressed feel to it, as though the band deliberately shied away from any layered sound. On that note, the tracks presented here sound as though they are trying to blend a classic 80s metal sound with the sounds of something like earlier Nightwish, but instead it all comes off as boring and uninspired. The album’s minimalist style ensures that individual instruments get their full exposure when they are at the forefront, but the supposedly soaring vocals sound canned and frequently grating. Issues with sound may have more to do with production values and recording approaches rather than be the result of anything to do with song writing, but that doesn’t change the fact that Wolves & Witches has yet to distinguish itself from the crowd of generic operatic female-fronted metal bands in any significant way.