383511_343586812410572_1980279937_nSymphonic metal may not be a genre that has ever received much attention here in Ireland, but the début EP from Northern Ireland band Selene may just do something about that.

‘Among the Frozen’ wears its influences on its sleeve throughout  its six tracks and has plenty in common with stalwarts of the genre such as Nightwish. Selene’s sweeping, melodic sound is driven by a blend of heavy riffs and airy, operatic vocals. For a début EP the level of technical accomplishment on display is particularly impressive, especially for a group that primarily consists of just two members.

‘Among the Frozen’ dives head first into a genre that holds instrumental skill very highly and right from the off it’s clear that Selene have the chops to cut it in this realm. Peace of Mind launches with spiralling guitar work; soon  joined by the immensely powerful voice of Shonagh Lyons. Nothing is rushed however, and each track is allowed the space to develop in its own time.

The quality of production is high throughout, with the symphonic soundscape built up by layers of guitars, keyboards and drums flowing together; all punctuated by Lyons’ otherworldly voice. His sheer power is somewhat of a double-edged sword though, as when guitarist/keyboardist John Connor provides backing vocals on End Of It All his voice is hopelessly drowned out.

Nevertheless End of it All is a hugely evocative track, one which crashes over the listener with an almost apocalyptic force. It would be easy to let this sound devolve into amorphous noise, but Selene maintain a tightly constructed melodic structure across the EP which prevents such a collapse.

This underlying structure is most apparent on Ghost – a stripped back piano-led track, which allows Lyons’ haunting voice to stand apart from the heavy metal hurricane of the other tracks. This is followed by the instrumental track The Codex, which swings things back towards, dizzying, yet immensely catchy guitar solos.

‘Among the Frozen’ is a highly impressive début that speaks of a band with a firm grip on what they are trying to achieve. Even if there are moments when the music seems more like an attempt to follow a template established by Nightwish or Epica rather than carve out a more original sound, it is never less than highly accomplished and technically impressive.