History: “Following the release of their debut album "Embrace the Storm" in 2005, Stream of Passion immediately gained the attention of female- fronted metal fans all over the globe with their unique sound. In 2008, after various European tours and festival appearances, plus the release of the live DVD "Live in the Real World" and several singles/video clips, Stream of Passion realized it was time to start working on their next album, which would open a new chapter in the band's history.”
“Led by the voice and violin of Mexican-born Marcela Bovio, the new band line-up consists of talented and passionate Dutch musicians Johan van Stratum (bass guitar), Martijn Peters (drums), Jeffrey Revet (keyboards), Eric Hazebroek (guitars) and Stephan Schultz (lead guitar).”
“The new line-up and interaction between the band members has definitely influenced the band's sound. Marcela explains: "Circumstances were different this time; we all live closer to each other now, so we could just get together and work on the songs face to face whenever we wanted to. We soon knew exactly the direction we wanted to take."
“With new songs, an energetic live performance, and a record deal with Napalm Records, Stream of Passion is confident that they will once again take the gothic metal scene by storm. On the new album "The Flame Within", the listener can brace for more live oriented songs with heavy guitars, raging pianos, haunting string arrangements, and the unique, mysterious melodies and vocals provided by Marcela Bovio.”
"Our plan was no other than to give everything we have, to implement all of our energy and passion into each one of these songs. And we've definitely achieved it... Get ready to experience our inner fire!" (Stream of Passion, 2009 )
1. Who is the band? What is their history? What motivates them?
In a word passion. Very passionate lyrics with bursts of musical power coming at you from all sides of the room. This is not music to sit and contemplate. This is music that moves you and if you have ever seen them live or on DVD you know they move around the stage. Marcela and her sister Diana love to shake their hair all over! They are definitely a fun band to see live, though I have not been fortune enough to have experienced a live show.
With the Flame Within, they hoped to try to capture the feel and sound of their live show on a studio album. Marcela moved to the Netherlands, where most of the band lives so they were able to write and co-produce in real time instead of over the Internet as they had with the debut album.
2. Why did they make this album? What was the passion or message that forced them to produce what they have? Or, simply what was their motivation for the themes they chose for this album?
This was the follow – up to their critically acclaimed Embrace the Storm debut. The sophomore outing is one of the most important albums of a band’s career. You have succeeded in proving you have talent with your debut and you have won critical acclaim and have built a legion of fans. The expectations are high. A lot has changed. Arjen Lucassen, the founder of the band, Lori Linstruth, lead guitar, and the band’s drummer have all departed. The band also went on a search for a new label seeking to find a label that more connected with their theme of gothic metal. Allot to deal with when you are trying to redefine yourself and come out with a new CD to keep the momentum going. But this band is full of talent and up to the challenge!
I must also make a disclaimer that I am a fan of their first album and Marcela’s work with Arjen Lucassen and his Ayreon themed discography.
3. What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
- The Art Of Loss – A good strong song to launch the album. This was one of the first songs the band posted to their My Space page as a teaser. It sounds so much stronger on the CD version than the MP3.
A Piano opens this one, but don’t be fooled, it quickly picks up pace with a full drum and guitar onslaught. “Take a long hard look into my review mirror.” The protagonist of the story begins the story with a remembrance of how the treachery of a love lost began. “I’ll never know where it went wrong, so I won’t try again. Good strong guitar and drums and a hook that will stay with you after the song ends.
- In The End – One of the best songs on the album! “The war fell upon us when we least expected..” Lights go out and “in the end it’s just you and me, when the pain grows stronger I will find a cure in your eyes, and your eyes will be my guide.” The hooks and melodies are so strong and when it finishes you wish it would go on forever.
- Now Or Never – Piano quietly opens the song before ripping guitar supported by pounding drums take over. There are also some powerful strings in the background adding to the dramatic feeling of the song. “Will you stand or fall?” “You cannot change your mind, you’ve got to change the world.” “You cannot fail; the time to act is now or never.” Definitely immediacy in the way Marcela delivers these lines with incredible passion.
- When You Hurt Me The Most – Another of the tracks provided by the band as a teaser on My Space. Beautiful pianos and soft guitar, along with strings and Marcela’s soft delivery of one of the most powerful lines on the album. “You took the roll, you played it well. I knew it would be easy for you.” “Don’t you leave me when I need you the most?”
- Run Away – Beautiful piano and that opera level voice of Marcela’s really takes full stage. Another of my favorite tracks. “You were a light, a stroke of hope amongst the dark.” “My loneliness is wrapped in fear, it’s taking the lead, so I’m gonna stay behind the comfort of a dream.” Powerful lyrics with strings and support of guitar and drum just the type of ballad that made their first album so wonderful.
- Games We Play – This one ushers in the almost Dream Theater opening of drums and power guitar. Then Marcela’s voice takes over. A powerful anthem. “Why do you hide from me?” “Why did you lie?” Marcela mixing her strong lead vocal and background vocals and their inter-weaving is wonderful. Very powerful anthem like song that will sound wonderful live. I expect there will be allot of hair tossing in this one!
- This Endless Night – Another standout song. Violin and strings open this beauty. “Buried in my pillow are the marks of your mistake.” “As soon as I lay down I’ll feel them closing in.” The hook on this one is wonderful. The beautiful way Marcela sings the line, “Pull me through this endless night.” “There’s a ghost at the door, there’s a memory that won’t let me be.” With this song you really get to see her talent and ability to turn something sad in to a beautiful refrain. The hook on this line is hypnotizing.
- My Leader – The last of the teaser tracks offered on the band’s My Space page. This is the song which sounds the closest to their last album. Probably the reason they used it as a teaser. However, it is still different enough to keep your interest. Marcella really gives her voice a work out with the multi – varying ways she hits high and soft notes and the end is so powerful and climactic, “who’ll lead us now, long after you’re gone?”
- Burn My Pain – Quite piano and strings with an almost acapella Marcela singing the opening lines. Bass and then crushing guitars help build a powerful song and another of my favorites on the album. Although it is part of the story, this song is strong enough to stand alone. The edgy guitar herald’s the album’s title, “find the flame within…” “Sing the song I long for...”
- Let Me In – Guitar and drums open this song. The protagonist is trying to help her leader break free from the chains of failure that hold his mind.
- Street Spirit – This is the first cover song the band has done on a studio album. The success of their live cover of Led Zeppelin’s When the Levee Breaks, must have given them confidence to try again. This time they succeed in surpassing the original artist Radiohead, IMHO. Although this is another band’s song it fits here so perfectly. I had never heard the song before I heard it on this album, and then watched the You Tube, Radiohead version. So I thought it was an SOP song. That is how strong their version is. Marcella turns it up another notch, the passion she brings with her voice to an already passion filled song. The most powerful part, and the one that makes this version stronger than Radiohead’s is the way Marcella finishes the line, “...and fade out again!” Much more power and passionate than the original. Must be one of her or the band’s favorites. It is also wonderful when bands introduce some of their favorite songs to their fans. I probably never would have heard this song, since I do not have many Radiohead albums.
- A Part Of You – Another of the many standouts on this album as the album is moving towards a close. “We loved till we could love no more.” “We gave till we could give no more.” The way Marcella delivers these lines sets her style apart from other singers in this genre.
- All I Know – The climactic close to the album. A beautiful piano and Marcella’s voice opening the song. “Somewhere, someone has turned my thoughts into nightmares.” “Somehow their words are now my own, and I’m sure.” It is always special when a native speaker sings in their native language. There was allot more of that on the first album. Marcella is from Monterey, Mexico and when she sings in Spanish it brings out the full passion of her voice. “Lle’name de meloncolia”, is all we get on this album, but it is a wonderful close.
Included in special edition:
- Far and Apart (bonus track) – Thankfully I purchased the special edition, which included this bonus song. I wasn’t ready to end the album with such a sad song. The lyrics are not included with this bonus song, but hopefully it is an indication of what might be in the future. Great piano, keys, guitar and drum. It’s as if everything has been added to bring the album to a climactic end. They saved this for the fans willing to spend more on the special edition. Thanks.
The whole idea of being apart and longing to be together is a perfect way to leave us wanting more in the future. “I won’t break this vow for anything, even being a world apart!” Let’s hope not!
4. Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
Very difficult to summarize my feelings about this album. It is wonderful in places and lifts you up as much as it covers some dark and sad subjects. I would say this is a strong follow – up, building on their strength and reassuring their fans that they still have the metal to rock you. However, IMHO, there are many streams of passion, and they need to swim in a new one. They have written the book on love lost and incredible devotion beyond the call of duty. They need to dip their feet into another stream beyond love lost. Maybe they are ready for a concept album. This album at times feels like a concept album, especially the story within In the End, Now or Never and My Leader, yet it falls short of being an end to end story. We mostly just hear about the after effects and the regret.
I have to admit I am not a big fan of Goth, so too much time in the shadows and sadness forces me to put something uplifting on after hearing this one, where the last one did not have that effect. It was more of a rocker.
Maybe the search for a label and their management demanded more of a consistency to the production, and possibly the fear of a loss of their fan base. Anyway, they need to develop a new theme for the next album if they hope to expand beyond the current base.
5. Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
Yes, it will have to because the band will be on tour and performing the album for at least the next year. It is the kind of album that fits a certain mood and for me is very seasonal. This will sound so much better in the fall.
There are so many songs here to listen to and re-discover. Reading the lyrics helps add to the overall effect, because sometimes the music volume overshadows Marcella’s beautiful voice.
Rating: 8/10 – A very good follow – up, building upon their success. Hopefully no longer in search of a label, and with the firm footing of a Napalm behind them, they will build a fully themed album of epic proportions using the loud and soft sides of Marcella’s wonderful voice. They need a fully themed story, with character development or a rock opera to really lock up the fan base. They also need to use some of their capable band member’s talents with some instrumental tracks or instrumental interludes within songs to further develop their style. If they continue in the lost love theme, a classic duet would help the band expand beyond the solitary reflection theme.
Reviewed by Prof on June 23rd, 2009