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(45:34, Black Widow Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Crossing the Acheron 1:30 2. The Hell I Am 4:16 3. Inner Wounds 4:56 4. Hypnotized by Fire 5:56 5. Shattered Illusions 5:51 6. In My Room 4:35 7. A Strange Night 0:57 8. Dead Zone 4:40 9. That Pain 4:41 10. Deconstruction People 8:08 LINEUP: Monica Santo – lead vocals & vocalizations Enrico Lanciaprima – bass; vocals Paolo Cruschelli – el. guitars Andrea Di Martino – drums With: James Jason – keyboards
Prolusion. The Italian quartet BLUE DOWN presents its self-titled debut release. Consisting of ten tracks, it was issued by Black Widow Records a few months ago.
Analysis. According to these musicians, they are influenced by classic seventies hard rock acts like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, as well as more experimental ones like King Crimson and Magma, which I find to be a rather misleading message, especially as regards the latter two outfits. With the exception of two short keyboard pieces (I will describe them last of all), Blue Dawn plays Doom Metal, and therefore only the first of the above references is valuable. Save the fact that the lead singer is a female, the material presented is strongly reminiscent of early ‘70s Black Sabbath, and, since the compositions differ in pace much stronger than they do structurally, both “Paranoid” and “Master of Reality” by the English band are seen as the relevant points of comparison. (Even though this music sounds less edgy than the implied one, being closer in this respect to Trouble, to name quite a few followers of the Metal Godfathers, everything is rooted in the Brummies’ creative legacy.) When that is said, the album’s eight vocal tracks can be divided into two equal parts. Inner Wounds, Hypnotized by Fire, Shattered Illusions and In My Room are all for most part slow-paced compositions, with vocalist Monica Santo normally following the riffs when singing, hence a certain similarity with the “Paranoid” stuff. It often happens that bassist Enrico Lanciaprima initiates a theme; guitar player Paolo Cruschelli then (almost instantly, to be more precise) gets down to it by adding riffs, with drummer Andrea Di Martino tying it all together. Later on we’ll meet with a few vocal as well as instrumental sections, the last of which vary in theme more distinctly then the former ones. What I like on these tracks most of all is the rhythm guitar work of Cruschelli – perhaps because the man constructs his riffs in a rather complicated manner, never borrowing from Tony Iommi or anyone else. The Hell I Am, Dead Zone, That Pain and Deconstruction People all feature many moves that are performed up-tempo, as most of the songs from “Master of Reality” do as well. Monica avoids singing in unison with guitar riffs here, but while her vocals are more varied, they are different in delivery/style too, bringing in Nightwish-like motifs into what is still basically Doom Metal. Anyhow, each of the following songs is more rhythmically diverse than its predecessor and is more complicated in general, with the album’s last track, Deconstruction People, appearing to be its culmination. Clocking in at 8:08, it musically covers more ground than all four of the songs from the former category combined. A multi-sectional composition, building from atmospheric textures to moves with meaty, edgy riffs at their base to what comes across as a mid-’90 Tiamat-inspired exoticism, it goes beyond the doom metal idiom on quite a few occasions. What seems to be missing on the album is a fully integrated keyboard player. A hired hand, James Jason doesn't appear on all of the songs, and never for long, while his synthesizer passages and solos are always tasty and are especially impressive when flirting with heavy, guitar-driven arrangements. Nonetheless, the remaining two tracks, Crossing the Acheron and A Strange Night (the only instrumentals present), are played by him alone, the first of these being quite a remarkable composition, at least as an intro to an album. It stands out for its lush orchestral arrangements and generally sounds very much like it’s performed by a real chamber ensemble.
Conclusion. Blue Down’s self-titled outing is a solid debut effort, most of which represents quality Doom Metal. Fans of the genre should not hesitate to get it, unless they find that only male vocals are suitable for this kind of music.
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