Winterage – The Inheritance Of Beauty

The Inheritance Of Beauty Album Cover Art

Winterage – The Inheritance Of Beauty
Scarlet Records
Release Date: 15/01/2021
Running Time: 61:00
Review by Simon Black
8/10

Symphonic Metal is a challenging and complex beast. The simplest definition of it is ‘Metal meets Classical’, but as always this is just the tip of the iceberg in the sea of definition – a troubling sea to sail at the best of times. Is a five- or six-piece band, creating a semi-classical sound on their own, the purist definition of the sub-genre (as say Nightwish are)? What if someone who is more firmly categorised as Metal or Hard Rock decides to play with an orchestra like Paradise Lost, Metallica, Kiss, Deep Purple and countless others have done over the years? Personally, I exclude the latter, as in these instances these are artists playing their regular material in a different arrangement as a one-off activity, usually for the purposes of a specific live gig or tour. The former at least is music written for this format, and so has happily been my guiding principle of definition over the years. The danger of course with defining anything is that sooner or later some cheeky swine comes along and breaks all the rules by throwing all the boundaries into one melting pot, as Winterage have done here.

The core of this Italian band is a five-piece bunch of musicians, although unusually a full-time violin player is part of this core team, along with all the other folk tropes. This particular recording however has also gone crazy ape bonkers with a twenty strong choir and twenty-six-piece orchestra as well – not to mention a Uillean Pipe player and all-round whistle blower (blame Nightwish, they started this one-upmanship when they hired Troy Donockley). Not bad going when you are only on your second album, although given that it’s taken them six years between albums something spectacular was definitely due. Spectacular feels like too small a word…

Like many Italian contributors to the genre, some of the well-trodden path of the likes of Rhapsody et al is visible, but I would argue this is more about the operatic tradition of the country than the influence of these other bands specifically. Either way, this is musically quite as epic, astounding and musically effective a record as you could hope to lay your hands on – which given where Nightwish have taken things with their most recent release is no small feat. Where this works so well is the way the folk instrumental sentiments are joined at the hip with the Classical (almost at the expense of the Metal instrumentation, which feels like a part of the orchestra, rather than one being an add-on to the other. This is also a case of folk instruments playing classical forms and some of the frenetic violin work on tracks like ‘Chain of Heaven’ is little short of outstanding. This of a violinist who can shred like John Pettruci and you will just begin to imagine what Gabriele Boschi has achieved here. He’s been a busy chap, as he also wrote all the orchestrations for the album to boot.

Vocally this is quite frankly dizzying. The challenge with having so many vocal contributors involved is it’s sometime hard to tell where vocalist Daniele Barbarossa ends and the rest of the choir begins, although with every vocal style from soprano to Metal Growl represented, the net effect is like the Metal Opera delivery of the original Avantasia album – only with bursts of operatic Italian. It’s going to be a bitch to play live too. Nothing sums up the achievement of this album more than the epic finale ‘The Amazing Toymaker’, which takes every musical extreme this album has thrown to date back at you in a whopping seventeen-minute epic of staggering proportions, which lyrically may be the maddest thing I have ever heard, and does sound like someone has also been listening to Avatar’s “Black Waltz” album recently as well…

The challenge this album has is that whilst musically and vocally dizzying, it sometimes lacks the immediacy of the more commercially orientated acts. Avantasia may not be for everyone, but Tobias Sammet knows how to leverage the fan base of his array of contributors and achieve the ‘everyman’ broad appeal, no matter how avant garde he gets, whereas as a relative newcomer and no likelihood of being able to bring the full musical ensemble on tour Winterage, have a much bigger uphill struggle on their hands. Everyman is an important word and to appeal to a wider audience you need a song to reach into more commercial territory and this album does not have one. Completely bonkers, but an incredible piece of work, nonetheless.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Ouverture
02. The Inheritance Of Beauty
03. The Wisdom Of Us
04. Of Heroes And Wonders
05. The Mutineers
06. Orpheus And Eurydice
07. Chain Of Heaven
08. La Morte di Venere
09. Oblivion Day
10. The Amazing Toymaker

LINE-UP:
Daniele Barbarossa – Vocals
Gabriele Boschi – Violin
Gianmarco Bambini – Guitars
Matteo Serlenga – Bass
Luca Ghiglione – Drums

LINKS:

Winterage Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Lining Redox – The Moral Scenery

The Moral Scenery Cover Art

Lining Redox – The Moral Scenery
Self-Released
Release Date: 10/12/2020
Running Time: 51:00
Review by Simon Black
8/10

Italy has been quite unique in the Metal world in recent years. The biggest contributions to the scene have definitely come from the Symphonic and uniquely Operatic work of the extended Rhapsody family of bands (which is what I refer to the four or five key acts who have at one time or another shared one or more principle members), so it’s nice to hear a new band that although clearly influenced by that movement, is not actually part of the extended family of musicians at its centre.

‘Death’s Cold Lifeless Sound’ at nine minutes and thirteen seconds takes a long time to get going, and as the opening track of the album is not as immediately engaging as it should have been. It rambles somewhat, and needs a little more structure but oh my, when Rayan Resuli and Mattia Rodella open up with that guitar instrumental section at the end that wait all seems worthwhile. It’s a brave and epic song, of the sort most acts in the genre would hold back to the end of the record, but Lining Redox are laying their stall and their influences out clearly for all to hear

‘Faithless’ and ‘Thunderquake’ are a lot shorter and to the point and benefit from a more traditional song structure and format, whilst being no less technically proficient, with keyboardist Gianluca Minto given chance to shine in particular in the latter of these two tracks. Whereas the likes of Dream Theater, who are clearly a massive influence on this album (even to the point of some melody lines sounding particularly like they could have come from the fingers of Petrucci and Rudess) tend to show off the musical skills of their instrumentalists fairly evenly within a song, Lining Redox tend to favour one player in each individual track in turn. I’m going to keep coming back to the comparisons between these two acts, not just because of the musical tropes they share but for the same reason that “Images And Words”first caught my attention in 1992 – because this album has the same ‘wow’ factor as that benchmark Progressive Metal record.

The bulk of the album’s running time is actually taken by the epic three-part ‘Transcending’, coming in with the combined running time of a whopping twenty-four minutes and six seconds, it really cannot be ignored. Now, as time goes by the only problem with opting to do prestigious multi track epics that spread in three or more parts is what to do if one of them unexpectedly becomes the hit and becomes forever an orphan in your live set. That would be a nice problem for any band to have of course. However, it also means with all that material to play with that the instrumentalists start to share the workload evenly between them, although avoiding the synchronised soloing that is one of the trademarks of the likes of Dream Theater. Where this massive mid-album epic works so well are the complete changes of tone away from the traditional Metal tropes into the kind of paces and tempos that would not sound amiss on a Pink Floyd album, with some nice instrumental breaks on piano and sax to really mix up the sound. The album’s title more or less brings things to a conclusion and is a much heavier and tightly arranged piece. Musically this is top drawer stuff, and with a few more tracks of this more focussed songwriting consistency, these boys are going to be a force to be reckoned with…

Where I have a slight challenge are the vocal performances, which sometimes lack flow. Matteo Mancini has a good tone and timbre to his range, with a lovely clear and emotive sound, however some of the tracks don’t seem to have been written with his range in mind (most notably that troublesome opener – which is another reason why it’s an odd choice to introduce people to the record). The press release alludes to an unstable line up leading to this debut, so perhaps this is an older piece written around someone else’s voice, but either way experience in both writing and performing this material will likely iron out this wrinkle whatever its root cause is. One final DT comparison: although the Images album was their major label debut, it was not their first record and I get the feeling that whatever these chaps bring to the table next is likely to be the point of coalescence. Nevertheless, this is a damn fine piece of music from a band to watch.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Reminiscent
02. Death’s Cold Lifeless Sound
03. Faithless
04. Thunderquake
05. Transcending Pt.1: Deceiver
06. Transcending Pt.2: Stillness
07. Transcending Pt.3: Defiler
08. The Moral Scenery
09. Clarity

LINE-UP:
Matteo Mancini – Vocals
Rayan Resuli – Guitars
Mattia Rodella – Guitars
Gianluca Minto – Keyboards and Scream/Growl Vocals
Nicola Prendin – Drums
Nicola Baesso – Bass Guitar

LINKS:

Lining Redox Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Moonlight Haze – Lunaris

Moonlight Haze – Lunaris
Scarlet Records
Release Date: 12/06/2020
Running Time: 51:46
Review by Tsarina Wilson
9/10

Moonlight Haze consists of Chiara Tricarico (ex-Temperance) on vocals, Giulio Capone on vocals/drums/keyboards, Alessandro Jacobi (also of Elvenking) on bass, Alberto Melinato and Marco Falanga on guitars. This is the second album from the Italian band in quite quick time, as far as albums go anyway, their first release which was “De Rerum Natura” in 2019, certainly put them on the map of great quality music, so I had high hopes for this release. This new album, “Lunaris”, was mixed and mastered by Simone Mularoni at the Domination Studio (San Marino). The artwork and graphics (which are immense) are by Beatrice Damori.

Their music is not only symphonic, it’s up-beat, catchy, enthusiastic, and has vocals that make the hairs on the back of your arms stand on end. It has power and passion which shines through in abundance, and is an amazing blend of metal, folk, electronics, with one track, ‘Birth And Death’, even featuring Elvenking’s violinist, Fabio Lethien Polo.

The opening track, ‘Till The End’ bursts in with a, “hello! I’m here” feeling! It has a great tempo, is catchy, full of energy and doesn’t let up all the way through. Chiara’s vocals are so strong and powerful, and her range is epic. Added to that are great harmonies, and guitar riffs that go so fast it makes my fingers hurt just thinking about them! The ending of the song proves already what a great set of lungs Chiara has, the power in her voice is incredible!

Each track is a mini story within itself, and although some of the tracks are fast pace and can leave you breathless, you do get small lulls in between. But don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll be able to sit and relax, as you wont be left with time to do that! This album will have you sat up and listening, waiting to see where it’s off to next. ‘Under your Spell’, is another stand out track for me. It starts off melodic and is gentle but very powerful, and again the range of Chiara’s voice is out of this world! Add to that brilliant guitar riffs, and you have a very powerful rock ballad.

I was a little taken back by ‘Enigma’, as rather than being sung in English, it is in Italian, but the power and passion shines out in bucket loads. Even though I couldn’t understand the lyrics, it still gives you such a vibe. I am one of those who listen to the album without looking at the track running order, so I was pleased to discover that the last track on the album is the English version of the same song. This wouldn’t be out of place in a rock opera and the immense drumming leave you breathless, thinking ‘seriously how the heck do you play drums that quick?’. Just wow!

I must admit I listen to my music a tad loud, and on a good set of speakers, but, my word, some of the drumming had my chest hurting! You can feel it inside. That and the guitar riffs almost blew the speakers! And I can’t say enough how fabulous the vocals are, going from gritty to operatic in a heartbeat. This is so apparent in ‘The Dangerous Art of Overthinking’ which I have to say is my favourite track. You start off with operatic background and crazy drumming. Calm down to almost ‘monkish’ undertones, then BAM! Back into it! Who needed to catch their breath anyway?! This would make an epic horror film score, the vocals leaping from powerful, to growls, to operatic, and back to ‘monkish’ in seconds, which leave you wandering what the hell is going on! You get chance for a quick gasp of air then off it goes again. It also has some crazy synthesiser twists which really add the icing on the metal cake. I like to call this track the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ of the album.

There are calmer tracks, like ‘Of Birth and Death’, that gives you a folkish interlude, which you’ll be grateful for as track 10 ‘Nameless City’ is 7 minutes and 34 seconds long, and once again leads you on a twisted journey! It starts off all nice and calm before throwing you into the deep end with a sudden change of pace. Operatic vocals switch to normal, and the whole track sounds like they have an orchestra and a team of backing vocals all joining in. And, once again, it’s littered with brilliant drumming, guitars and harmonies, and the synthesizer in the background.

If you wanted dull and boring then stay away from “Lunaris”, as that’s one thing this album definitely isn’t! But if you want powerful, intense, complex, and outside of the box, then hold on tight and enjoy the ride.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Till The End
02. The Rabbit Of The Moon
03. Lunaris
04. Under Your Spell
05. Enigma
06. Wish Upon A Scar
07. The Dangerous Art of Overthinking
08. Without You
09. Of Birth and Death
10. Nameless City
11. Enigma (English Version)

LINE-UP:
Chiara Tricarico: vocals
Giulio Capone: drums, keyboards
Marco Falanga: guitars
Alberto Melinato: guitars
Alessandro Jacobi: bass

LINKS:
www.moonlighthaze.com/
www.facebook.com/Moonlighthazeband/
www.instagram.com/moonlighthazeband
www.open.spotify.com/artist/1J9Jg6CEtjR3C4SFXz1elX
www.youtube.com/channel/UC4xfX4XQB0cIO7KsBUf6gng
www.linktr.ee/moonlighthaze

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Tsarina Wilson and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.