Looks like the Mediterranean is fertile ground when it comes to metal of all kinds. You got the island folks on Cyprus going strong, at least one very good one dwelling in Portugal.
But then there is a very important community down South in Italy too. Overtures being one of them and they are rocking away from Gorizia, right on the border with Slovenia. The band is now ready to open the doors on their newest and third full-length studio album Artifacts. To me, this is – not quite surprisingly – about the most mature album they produced so far.
And does Artifacts deliver?
It does for sure not saddle us with a helluva lot of novelty at first. But the more pertinent question is: Will the album stick out from the crowd? And it does.
They got their own brand cut out for them. And this indeed will make all the difference, together with a very powerful crunch throughout the album. This creates this pull that will keep you on the record.
The band blatantly mixes melodic Progressive Metal with Power Metal, injecting some Gothic Metal to boot. Best described as something like Nightwish meeting Arrayan Path with a stout handful of Avantasia.
Got the general idea of where this is going?
Because on top of their very own style mix, the album has this tendency to go bombastic on ye. Okay, I give it to them: They keep it in check pretty well – luckily. And some cheese makes its appearance too, but more to that later.
The artwork will go up onto the RockmusicRaider’s music wall for sure – if I can find a decent copy. Good choice to get one of Franziskus Pfleghart’s surreal creations and use them for the album cover. Hellishly cool, that! By Loki.
The vocals delivered by Michele Guaitoli (Kaledon, Temperance) sometimes remind me of our good, old friend Meatloaf, with a metal edge. Yeah, I am not kidding, and nothing wrong with it. His style is very atypical if compared to the usual Power and Progressive Metal outfits.
And this might cost them some fans, I daresay. Albeit that he can kick it up a notch too, just check out Angry Animals. But it is good to see that we got ourselves some counterweight to the abominable screamers in the Power Metal genre, like Unleash the Archers, where Time Stands Still.
You will find stellar guitar work on Artifacts too.
Marco Falanga‘s contribution is outstanding, adding a distinct metal flavor to this set of tracks. Some of his solos just took my breath away. Right up there with the top, well done.
Further, you will find Luka Klanjscek on bass and Andrea Cum on drums. Both of them deliver a very good performance that never gripes. Albeit that the bass seems to be so locked in at times, that you have trouble locating it. But this is not the bassist’s fault.
Now, whoever mastered Artifacts needs to be disowned. As of the first listen, this sounded dangerously like the mush Sascha Paeth often produces. And – lo and behold – it is indeed Gate Studio in Wolfsburg being the culprit. Whilst it is apparently not Paeth himself acting as mastering engineer, it is all too clear what corner of the universe this is coming from. Hell’s Bells!
The guitars are usually clear and strong. But the lead vocals should be going through the fucking roof. I was waiting for that to happen all the time, but nada. Everything stays way too much on an even keel, which sometimes brings the backing vocals to the forefront. And this plainly sucks. But let me be clear: Nothing wrong with Michele’s contribution, but boy, this is a real pity, losing them a star on the rating for sure.
When you start to listen to Artifacts you will do Repentance!
No worries, RockmusicRaider did not suddenly meet the deep end, by Loki. Repentance is the first track you get on the album. And it takes off in a pretty stiff Power Metal manner, with a decent solo in the middle.
The catchy chorus line of the title song Artifacts will follow you around like a friggin’ dog on a quest for a biscuit. At first, the direction is not all that clear and it’s got this atypical song structure. But then it gets into the groove and ends up being pretty remarkable. By the way, check out the solo on this one, shredding up and down the fretboard. One of the best contributions on this disc of theirs.
You know, none of the tracks are bad, no discernible fillers. Let me mention As Candles We Burn and Profiled kind of ramping the tension up a bit more. As a ballad-like, somewhat low-tempo contribution, Unshared Worlds is a pretty good one. I like the lyrics on this track, especially the refrain is well done. And don’t be afraid of the cheese that continues to drip on this track. It kind of goes with the territory, doesn’t it?
Now, talking about cheese.
The 10+ minute epic and bombast-laden Teardrop will make you wade knee-deep in it. With a female guest vocalist to boot. Well, take it on the chin! It is Power Metal after all. Just brace yourself for the onslaught. A complex track right up there with the more operatic, almost cinematic contenders in the music industry. But they never get to a level of cheese-infused Power Metal other bands – like Gloryhammer – managed to get themselves in trouble with.
Now after fondue, what better than a nice, juicy chunk of metal. A nice surprise meeting the aforementioned Angry Animals just after this. Power Metal at its finest and Michele Guaitoli showing off his pipes at peak performance. Cool track! One of my favorites.
Artifacts is really one refined piece of metal, delivered in the band’s own brand and style mix. Not one note astray in the whole production, recorded and mixed with a precision that is up there with the best. If only the mastering could have been done a tad better, this would have been perfect. But hey: Nothing is ever perfect.
Should you buy the record?
If you like a quirky Progressive Power Metal full of melodic hooks and turns, never leaving you bored at any moment, go for it. If you are not sure, give it a try anyway. They are good, you know. And we got ourselves a contender for the Top 10 list of 2016.
Ed’s note: Indeed, Artifacts features on the 2016 Top Ten Records as well as on the 10 Most Popular Posts @ RockmusicRaider. And the Intermittent Digest IV as well. Geez, too much fame, that. Right, Overtures?