From the realm of cinematic neoclassical music comes “Crossroads”, a dramatic and moving album spanning seventy minutes from composer Marc Enfroy. Largely inspired by personal loss and tragedy, the sixteen compositions herein are mainly characterized by symphonic orchestration that often showcases lead piano and string instrument melodies, with guest vocalists appearing on a few of the tracks.

The title piece opens with melancholic piano followed by a swell of shimmering strings amidst washes of vocal choirs. The majestic display of luxurious orchestration continues into “Toxic”, a somewhat dark and dramatic composition that weaves certain electronic elements into the symphonic arrangement. This sweeping and cinematic piece is characterized by minor-key piano amidst robust and riveting orchestration that would seem fitting in a dramatic period film, perhaps as one solitarily makes their way through a harsh snowstorm on a cold winter’s eve. Following next is “Your Silence is a Razor”, which features vocals by Aili Laine. This composition is one of three symphonic pop-rock power ballads on the album, with Lila Ives lending her voice to the other two – “Fading White” and “Shed my Skin”. The gentler instrumental, “Sepia”, is a particularly lovely composition of a more contemplative nature that opens with delicate piano and cello, followed by wordless ethereal vocals amidst an elegant orchestral arrangement. It is followed by “Betrayed”, a brief but enchanting interlude-like piece that’s characterized by a pensive piano motif throughout. Combined with a beautiful build-up of strings and thunderous symphony, this piece elicits the notion of running frantically towards somewhere or something, as it escalates into a beautiful bewilderment before concluding abruptly. The poignantly edgy “Dying in Degrees” could be described as ‘neoclassical electronica’, and is easily my favorite piece on the album. Beginning with stirring strings and piano, the composition unfolds into a mesmerizing display of minor chords and lead string instruments which sleekly offset a driving electronic beat. As if having travelled back in time, the piece conveys the mystery and allure of a masked ball. The forlorn yet strangely comforting “Shattered” is a notable neoclassical composition which seems to express an outpouring of grief and distress. Its galloping piano melody is joined by an arrangement of strings that gradually build up to a crescendo before evaporating into thin air. I’m also especially fond of “Moonlight Obsession”, a caressingly nocturnal solo-piano piece that brings to mind a moonlit night while a gentle breeze blows in through an open window. “In that Moment” is another one of my favorites which begins with sparse piano. It is accompanied throughout by another piano riff in an echoing high register, along with gossamer strings and a thundering muffled drumbeat that moves along at a marching pace. Rounding things out is “Your Silence is a Razor (instrumental version)”, with the other two vocal pieces also finding their instrumental counterparts on the album.

Often imbued with a dark enchantment, “Crossroads” is a highly epic and visually stimulating experience of dramatically contrasting highs and lows. Stylistically, comparisons may be drawn to Kevin Keller, Evanescence and Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but with a thematically tragic guise akin to Phantom of the Opera. This album’s sweeping and cinematic orchestration combined with its dynamic rock flair makes for an overall magnificent and emotionally-stirring adventure! ~Candice Michelle

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