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Germany’s Symphonic metal band XANDRIA’s new album The Wonders Still Awaiting to be released on 3rd of February 2023

Group leader and mastermind Marco Heubaum talks about the new album which includes new impressive vocals of Ambre Vourvahis ranging from rock grit, operatic highs and even death metal grow. Also new musicians: Robert Klawonn (guitars), Tim Schwarz (bass) and Dimitrios Gatsios (drums).  The music compositions include a 40-piece classical choir, authentic Celtic instruments represented by renowned musicians as well as delicate violin and cello contributions from SUBWAY TO SALLYs Ally Storch. The new album is topped by the Bulgarian National Radio Children’s Choir, which marks the first collaboration of this kind in the band’s history.

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Photo taken by Tim Tronckoe

Interview by Craig Newman

IMM: Hi Marco, thanks for your time and awesome new songs and of course other Xandria songs. First on Ambre, her background and was she on your list to be the new singer after Dianne Van Giersbergen left? And you had another singer while doing some shows. And you were looking for new musicians to be in the group?

Marco: Hi Craig! Thanks a lot for your kind words! Yes, it´s a new start which I needed for continuing my musical vision. The new instrumentalists are truly great musicians and great persons, so I´m really glad I found them. It´s an amazing experience working together that we are having so far already. Ambre and I knew each other from before. We were working also on another project together at the time when I started to have the first ideas for new Xandria songs, and I noticed I was having her voice in my mind when I imagined them. And when we tried it, it was just working naturally together.

IMM: On this album there 13 songs, and 5 videos currently available. All the songs are quality so not one stands over the other.

You wanted to break out of your comfort zone it seems by using a 40-piece classical choir, authentic Celtic instruments represented by renowned musicians as well as delicate violin and cello contributions from SUBWAY TO SALLY‘s Ally Storch and the Bulgarian National Radio Children’s Choir, which marks the first collaboration of this kind in the band’s history? 

Marco: Thanks a lot for this feedback! The choir is more than twice as big than the one we used in the past, and because of that it is sounding much more huge and majestic now. But having a children choir is a first. It gives some amazing sparkle to the album. You hear them right in the first seconds of the album already. It´s an amazing atmospheric effect.  

IMM:  The meaning on the title of the album?

Marco: There are wonders still waiting for us as mankind, but we need to do the right things for that. We need to stop destroying the environment we live in, and we need to fight the forces who are about to destroy the progress of civilization we made since medieval times. Since then, we had the age of enlightenment, we had the discovery of humanism, secularism and much more, to overcome the times of unfreedom and oppression of truth and science. 

 IMM: Talk about some of the songs. First, “You Will Never Be Our God” with your friend (Primal Fear front man Ralf Scheepers) which there is a video for. It’s a real message on the political and what is really going on and battles to oppose those at other countries governments like China who want power (Communism, Marxism) over every detail of our lives, speech, laws, and all of it. Here at United States is happening.  

Marco: The symbolical story in the video is a warning about authoritarian and totalitarian movements that will destroy the progress of civilization when they get the power. Even in our modern democracies, where we made a lot of progress in freedom, pluralism, diversity, tolerance, overcoming racism and homophobia or intolerance for other minorities, these forces are now getting strong. In the USA for example, you just had a president who doesn’t care about anybody than himself and his ego, who would even damage democracy severely just to stay in power. Who doesn’t care about scientific facts, about tolerance, pluralism, and all these civilization achievements. And his followers seem to do neither. A lot of them would probably even not mind turning the USA into a right wing conservative regime, because they like democracy only as long as it gives them the power they want, while they don´t like to tolerate other opinions at the same time. I really hope for America that people will be more clever than falling for this and get back to be what it has been. It is such a great country, a beacon for democracy, freedom, diversity and openness in the world even, and it shouldn´t be damaged that way. 

In Russia, you have a similar self-absorbed figure in power, who suppresses his people´s human rights and just started a war in Europe. Also in other countries in Europe the extreme right wing conservatives are getting stronger, they all get followers because they can appeal to the low instinct in people, fear and hatred against people who are different. But nationalism is not the answer. The real problems are not solved by that. They can only be solved if mankind works together instead of separating from each other. 

IMM:  Briefly talk about Two Worlds”, “The Wonders Still Awaiting”, “The Maiden and the Child”, “Mirror Of Time” and “Ghosts?

Marco: “Two Worlds”: Epic Film score metal. A real journey through imagination. Listen carefully to all the details. “The Wonders Still Awaiting”: We felt it has some mysterious magic in it and we hope people will feel it too. “The Maiden and the Child”: Most different kinds of metal meet. Black metal Intro and black metal guitar riff in the middle part. The lyrics are inspired by “The Handmaid´s Tale” (watch this, this happens when the right wing conservatives have their way for real). “Mirror of Time”: Some Prog, some Pink Floyd even. Maybe the strangest song on the album. “Ghosts”: At The Gates style guitar riff meets huge bombastic choir and orchestra. 

Photo taken by Tim Tronckoe

IMM: The epic nine-minute album closer “Astéria”, including Greek lyrics written by Ambre Vourvahis.  Did you and the group say YES! When she presented this?

Marco: Absolutely! It fits the atmosphere of the music really well. This song will take you away like a movie, maybe a bit of “Prince of Persia” vibe. Serious lyrical topic though. It´s about war, refugees and their lost homes. And the hope for people building bridges to each other as we all have the same basic needs and should support each other.  

IMM: Explain the album cover and other graphics like the back cover and inserts.

Marco: Actually I´d like to leave interpretation to the people and not explain it. I think it´s very beautiful and atmospheric, and you can sense something special in there, but everyone can just find his or her own way of looking at it. In the booklet you find quite some more pictures which belong to the themes of the song. We put a lot of effort in it. And in the Media book booklet, which has 40 pages, you find many more pictures, of the band in the studio, on stage, the choir recording, and much more. 

IMM: For 2023 many shows planned and scheduled?  How many songs from the new album to be on the set list?

Marco: We will play quite a few of the new songs as we love them all. It will be rather difficult to leave some of them out but of course we have to choose. Because we want to play a lot of the past songs too of course. There are a lot which mean a lot to us and to the fans, and they just belong to our live set. 

IMM: Thanks again and for the music

Marco: Thank you for your support! See you on tour hopefully soon! 

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