Ah, the great dualities that make us both human and immortal: heads/tails, heaven/hell, male/female, life/death. And then there’s Anwynn, a self-confessed “symphonic” metal band from Belgium fronted by the enmeshing opposites of Amandine’s womanly mezzo-operatics and the manly paleolithic grindcore of Bouc. Embellishing a sense of medieval, two doors down from goth, the guitarists, led by Jukka and Walkace (this band is on a first-name basis) wear kilts and drink from a horn, and the rest of their caravan — Astrid (keyboards), Vincent (bass) and Florent (drums) — create an orchestral sense of grandeur and magnificence, whether the textures are fortissimo or pianoforte.
Forbidden Songs is their first proper album, after two EPs, and the gestation has given Anwynn the benefit of fully realizing all tangents of their sound, played with great confidence and surety, pummeling when it puts the hammer down, yet with a grace that allows Amandine her own frequency spectrum. Some cuts are especially philharmonic — “Cum Cantici Veniunt” as it morphs into “Free”; some do the Celtic jig (“Across The 7 Seas”) or are hypnotically relentless (“No Victory”). There’s even a power ballad, “Lost In Avalon,” a duet between an ivory tower princess and hobgoblin which strays dangerously close to the land of Faerie before Amandine unleashes her Valkyrie battle cry and the guitars launch into mortal combat. Magnificat.