Samandriel are: Hoops (bass), Jeff B. (keyboards), Jeff C. (drums) Oskar (guitar). Also pictured, center: Doneka (ex-vocals).

Now here’s a band that knows how to do the operatic thing right. Samandriel (whose name I have considerable trouble not spelling “salamander”) are a bit of an acquired taste, as most progressive bands generally are, but once you acquire it, you’ll be rewarded with loads of awesome melodies. Unsurprisingly, this highly dramatic band’s influences include a mix of contemporary classical (Danny Elfman, John Williams) and symphonic metal (Epica, Nightwish), and they rise above their influences to create a sound that is as bombastic as it is original. In the songs posted on their Facebook page, it’s clear that playing around with rhythms is where the majority of their progressiveness comes in. You won’t find too much guitar/melodic wankery there (thank the gods).

Since 2009, Samandriel have self-released one EP, Awakening, and all of its tracks are available on the band’s MySpace page (making them one of the few non-European MySpace holdouts I’ve seen). I enjoy pretty much all of their tracks, but my favorites are definitely the ones hidden away on their MySpace. It’s hard to choose just one song to accurately give you a sense of the whole band, but the one below is “The Mighty Seabeast,” which seems like the easiest to get into on first listen. Like I said, they’re kind of an acquired taste, so give yourself time to absorb what you’ve heard.

Official Facebook:
Official MySpace:
Official store: