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(56:40; Frontiers Music)
It never ceases to amaze me that I can still come across incredible bands and then realize they have been around for years. My initial reaction that here we had a supergroup put together from established musicians, but at the same time it has a way more organic feel than that, so off I went and did my due diligence and was somewhat surprised to see that this is their tenth album in more than 25 years of existence. There may have been some line-up changes over the years, as is generally the case, which means there are no longer any founder members involved, but everyone has been in the band since at least 2008, and drummer Fabio Costantino has been there for more than 20 years, so it is certainly a valid line-up. This is an Italian prog metal act, who interestingly are approaching the metallic side far more from AOR than what would normally be expected. There are nods to the likes of Stratovarius, with a grounding in incredibly quick runs on keyboards and guitar which tend to give this music a particular flavour. They are not always shredding, but more often than not we hear incredible note density from the guitar of Simone Mularoni in particular, but what makes this album stand out is that it is very much part of the song and not just an opportunity for someone to show off their skills: it feels far more holistic and controlled than material by Yngwie. The bass is often right up behind, with Andrea Arcangeli showing he can do the same on his instrument, yet there are also times when he backs away to join more in with the symphonic style of the keyboards to provide support and control. Then at the front we have Mark Basile, who is a superb singer with great breath control who cuts through the maelstrom beneath. The result is an album which ticks boxes in multiple genres, including AOR, melodic hard rock and prog metal, and in each case one has to say this album is something very special indeed. It is immediate, with songs which hit hope from the very first play, but underneath the melody there is a wonderful complexity which takes it into different places. For anyone who wants to hear something that little but different that is also mainstream then this is worth seeking out.
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