lukretion

Daniele
MMA Special Collaborator · Prog Metal Team
Registered 8 months ago · Last visit 3 hours ago

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71 reviews/ratings
SOEN - Imperial Progressive Metal | review permalink
EVERGREY - In Search of Truth Progressive Metal | review permalink
THEATRE OF TRAGEDY - Velvet Darkness They Fear Gothic Metal | review permalink
SUBTERRANEAN MASQUERADE - Mountain Fever Progressive Metal | review permalink
MOTORPSYCHO - The All is One Non-Metal | review permalink
TRANSATLANTIC - The Absolute Universe - The Breath of Life Metal Related | review permalink
IOTUNN - Access All Worlds Progressive Metal | review permalink
BALANCE OF POWER - Perfect Balance Heavy Metal | review permalink
SILENTIUM - Infinita Plango Vulnera Gothic Metal | review permalink
TRISTANIA - World of Glass Gothic Metal | review permalink
THE SINS OF THY BELOVED - Lake of Sorrow Gothic Metal | review permalink
THEATRE OF TRAGEDY - Last Curtain Call Gothic Metal | review permalink
THEATRE OF TRAGEDY - Assembly Non-Metal | review permalink
THEATRE OF TRAGEDY - Aégis Gothic Metal | review permalink
TRANSATLANTIC - Bridge Across Forever Metal Related | review permalink
DEVIN TOWNSEND - Infinity Progressive Metal | review permalink
LEPROUS - Aphelion Progressive Metal | review permalink
TIME MACHINE - Eternity Ends Progressive Metal | review permalink
THERION - Leviathan Symphonic Metal | review permalink
TRANSATLANTIC - The Absolute Universe - Forevermore Metal Related | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Progressive Metal 21 3.33
2 Gothic Metal 19 3.21
3 Power Metal 7 2.86
4 Non-Metal 6 3.08
5 Metal Related 6 3.50
6 Neoclassical metal 3 3.00
7 Hard Rock 3 2.83
8 Symphonic Metal 2 3.00
9 Heavy Metal 1 4.00
10 Heavy Psych 1 3.50
11 Death 'n' Roll 1 2.50
12 Glam Metal 1 2.00

Latest Albums Reviews

TIME MACHINE Reviviscence (Liber Secundus)

Album · 2004 · Progressive Metal
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The fourth (and to date last) full-length album of Italian prog-metallers Time Machine continues the trilogy based on Valerio Evangelisti’s book “Cherudek” that the band had started with their 2001’s LP Evil. Released in 2004, Reviviscence also continues Time Machine’s tradition of frequent personnel changes between albums. Of the line-up that had recorded Evil, only Lorenzo Dehò (bass) and Gianluca Ferro (guitars) remain. They are joined on the new record by drummer Luca Sigfrido Percich, guitarist Gianluca Galli and vocalist Marco Sivo, all coming from fairly unknown local metal bands. Reviviscence is also characterized by several guest spots, including solos by both Angra’s guitarists Kiko Loureiro and Rafael Bittencourt, and a keyboard solo by Fabio Ribeiro (Shaman, Andre Matos).

Stylistically, Reviviscence can be described as a cross between Time Machine’s masterpiece Eternity Ends from 1998 and their previous record Evil from 2001. Of the latter, the new LP retains the taste for a modern approach to progressive/power music, based on beefy, groovy guitar riffs, futuristic keyboard samples, and powerfully dark melodies that remind me of bands like Kamelot. But there are also echoes of Eternity Ends on Reviviscence, partly because Marco Sivo’s voice has the same high-pitch tone and mellifluous timbre of Nick Fortarezza, who had sung on the 1998’s album, and partly because of the Angra influences that were very prominent on Eternity Ends and return, albeit less conspicuously, on the new album.

This description may sound exciting, considering how Eternity Ends and Evil are both very strong records in their own way. Alas, despite its best intentions, Reviviscence is a fairly disappointing release, mostly because a lot of the material feels very much run of the mill and uninspired. Melodically, there are very few moments of this album that stand out, even after repeated listens, and the whole album flows away without making much of an impression. The material in the second-half of the record is somewhat stronger, also thanks to some inspired guitar playing and a touch of colour given by unusual instrumentation (the sitar on “Tears of Jerusalem”) and samples (the George W Bush’s speech at the end of “Grains of Sand”), but it really does not go beyond the average level.

Another weakness of this record is the quality of the line-up, which I think is somewhat inferior to those of the previous two records, at least in the vocal department (in a few places, Sivo’s vocals come across as tentative and fairly generic) and the drumming. On the other hand, the band has gained something in terms of guitar firepower. Both Galli and Ferro are excellent guitarists and the album contains some interesting and exciting guitar playing and solos (“Grains of Sand”, “Tears of Jerusalem”, “Seeds of Revolution”).

Unfortunately, the production is also a step-down compared to the band’s previous two records. The album does sound really poor for something recorded and produced in 2004. It is loud and noisy, with a terrible guitar and drum sound and an unbalanced mix that puts the keyboards and samples all over the place and on top of the other instruments. This truly detracts from the listening experience, especially in songs where one can hardly tell apart what’s being played as everything sounds like an indistinguishable mush (the choruses on the title-track and “Angel Lucifer”).

Overall, Reviviscence is a mixed bag of fairly uninspired and badly produced material. There is some saving grace in the guitar work, especially in the solos, but it is too little to lift the album beyond the “so-so” level. It is a pity because Time Machine have been a really interesting and exciting band in the Italian and European progressive metal scene, and this is a rather unfortunate way to conclude their discography. We can only hope that Dehò may at some point in the future decide to revive his old band and conclude the Evangelisti’s trilogy with a better album than this one. Until then, I think I will stick to Eternity Ends and Evil.

TIME MACHINE Eternity Ends

Album · 1998 · Progressive Metal
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Eternity Ends is the second full-length release by Italian prog-metallers Time Machine. It came out in 1998, just one year after the band had released its fourth recording, the EP Shades of Time. The band’s line-up underwent some changes in the space between the EP and Eternity Ends, which is not unusual for Time Machine, considering how they changed singer on every single album they ever released! Long-time guitar player Ivan Oggioni stepped down and was not replaced on the new album. Vocalist Morby also left the band, and was replaced by Nick Fortarezza. The rest of the line-up is unchanged, with Nick Rossetti on drums, Joe Taccone on guitars, and mastermind Lorenzo Dehó on bass. Stefano Della Giustina is also listed as a full-time band member on the record, after having featured as a guest on the 1997’s EP. Alessandro de Berti (from Italian prog-metallers Enrico VIII) guests by contributing acoustic guitars.

Eternity Ends is hands down the best album Time Machine have released in their entire career. Already the previous EP Shades of Time had shown that the band had found a more convincing and mature way to express their musical ambitions, leaving behind the complex and over-fragmented sound of the origins in favour of a more accessible, chorus-based approach that still retained sufficient progressive depth. The process of maturation of the songwriting continues – and reaches its highest point – on Eternity Ends. The music falls squarely into the melodic prog metal camp, but it does not lack originality. Inspired by label mates Angra, Time Machine incorporate in their sound refreshing Mediterranean and Latino influences, and a strong melodic allure that draws from the Italian singer-songwriter and pop tradition. The use of percussions, sax, and acoustic guitars add further intricacies and depth to their sound. Importantly – and this is a major improvement over earlier albums - Time Machine never lose sight of accessibility, by keeping the song structures lean and linear and by giving the right weight to choruses in the compositions.

Another strength of Eternity Ends lies in the quality of the band’s line-up. Nick Rossetti is a very good drummer. Already on the EP Shades of Time, his addition to the band had brought a more assured and virtuoso performance but also a vastly superior drum sound compared to previous records, and the new album is all the better for it. Nick Fortarezza, the other new element of the line-up, is a powerhouse. He has range and power, but also expressivity, something that many prog metal singers often lack. His performance on songs like “I, the Subversive Nazarene”, the title-track, “I Believe Again” and “Behind the Cross” are nothing short of breath-taking. Also, Fortarezza’s vocals have that typical Italian pop flavour that greatly contributes to giving a sense of originality to the material.

The album is centred on the persona of Jesus Christ and is divided in 12 songs. There are really no weak spots, but some tracks nevertheless stand out above the rest. After two short instrumentals, “I, the Subversive Nazarene” properly opens the album, and what an opener that is! The song is a robust, powerful mid-tempo graced by some fantastic vocal melodies by Nick Fortarezza, not too obvious but yet very catchy and memorable. The title-track is a bit more of a grower, but on repeated listens shows all its beauty. It has a nice Latino flavour thanks to some tasteful percussion work by Rossetti, and features three excellent guitar solos (two electric, one acoustic) by Taccone, Oggioni (the band’s former guitar player) and de Berti. “Behind the Cross” is a grittier piece that, after an unusual start (with a Goblin-like keyboard motif), develops into an epic, powerful mid-tempo.

I kept last “I Believe Again”, which is undoubtedly the best song of the album. Co-written with Angra’s singer André Matos, this is one of those pieces that are so good that can define a whole musical career. Unsurprisingly, it has a marked Angra flavour, especially if you listen to the version sung by Matos (not included on the album, but on the EP Secret Oceans Pt 2 released in the same year). I love the onion-like structure of this song, with the verse bookending the track and the bridge and chorus in the middle. All three parts sport fantastic vocal melodies by Fortarezza, especially the atmospheric bridge and the ethereal verse. The tasteful use of Della Giustina’s sax adds further layers of atmosphere to this beautiful ballad. If you can only listen to one song written by Time Machine, this is the one you should look out for.

Eternity Ends is Time Matchine’s crowning achievement. It’s a great album of melodic progressive metal, with a distinct Italian / Mediterranean feel. It’s original, inventive and skillfully played. It has memorable songs, including one of the best prog metal ballads ever written. I am not exaggerating when I say that this is one of the hidden gems of progressive metal, and if you are into this genre, you ought to give it a try!

TIME MACHINE Shades Of Time

EP · 1997 · Progressive Metal
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Time Machine are an Italian prog metal band from Milan and the EP Shades of Time is their fourth studio release. The band is renowned for their frequent personnel changes and Shades of Time is no exception. Antonio Rotta is replaced on the new EP by Nick Rossetti (from prog metal/rock band Enrico VIII) on drums. Vocalist Folco Orlandini also steps down to make space for Adolfo "Morby" Morviducci (Sabotage, Domine). Guitar players Ivan Oggioni and Joe Taccone stay on instead, and so does the band’s bass player and main songwriter, Lorenzo Dehó. Stefano Della Giustina guests as keyboard and tenor sax player.

The EP has strong Queensryche vibes. A lot of the similarities come down to Morby, who on this album does one of the best Tate’s impersonations you can find out there. The timbre is spot on, and also the phrasing is at times reminiscent of Queensryche’s legendary singer. But it is not just the voice the reason why I am reminded of Queensryche when I listen to this EP. The music is similar too, with songs that inhabit that sweet spot between ballad and energetic mid-tempo that one can find aplenty on records such as Operation Mindcrime and Empire. The sound is dark and moody, yet also very melodic. The keyboards add the right atmosphere, while the drums and bass give the sound a solid, powerful background.

In truth, often the comparison with Queensryche is a bit too close for comfort, as in the case of the EP opener “Silent Revolution” (even the title could have been lifted off Operation Mindcrime), the anthemic “New Religion” and “Never-ending Love”. “1000 Rainy Nights” is more interesting, a sort of moody ballad with a solid, powerful riffing and drums. “Past and Future” is a re-recording of a song that had originally appeared on Time Machine’s debut EP (Project: Time Scanning). It was one of the highlights of that EP and the new version is perhaps even better, with Morby adding that extra dose of grit and epicness that brings to mind early Iron Maiden. Stefano Della Giustina adds a sax solo to this track, which confers the music an additional layer of colour.

I have not yet mentioned what I consider the best piece of the EP, the cover of Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell”. Frankly, this song is so good that it is probably impossible to make it sound bad. Time Machine’s version is slightly more direct and aggressive, but it nevertheless retains all the power and epicness of the original. Walking in the shoes of Ronnie James Dio is never an easy task, but Morby does an excellent job here. The early Iron Maiden vibes surface on this track too, especially in the speedier bits.

All in all, Shade of Times is a pleasant album that flows away smoothly, if without too many surprises or high points. In the context of Time Machine’s discography, the EP is significant for two reasons. First, it is the first album that actually showcases a decent production. The guitars have finally a good, meaty sound, and so do the drums. The vocals are well produced too, probably also thanks to the experience of Morby as a singer. The second notable aspect of the record is the evident maturation in the songwriting department. Shades of Time is the first album where Dehó abandoned the complex, over-fragmented and frankly hard to assimilate songwriting style of his previous records, in favour of a more direct, chorus-centred approach, which perhaps may be slightly less ambitious but it is certainly more accessible and, in the end, enjoyable.

MOTORPSYCHO Kingdom Of Oblivion

Album · 2021 · Heavy Psych
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At the start of the year, Norwegian prog-rockers Motorpsycho announced a new full-length album, which they described as a return to a more direct "heavy" sound akin to some of their 1990s output. That intrigued me. Although I liked a lot the all-encompassing prog rock extravaganza of their most recent albums (2020's The All Is One is an absolute masterpiece), I missed the simpler heavy rock of some of their earlier works. Kingdom of Oblivion was eventually released in April, sporting the same line-up responsible for Motorpsycho's last couple of records, with Bent Sæther on lead vocals and bass/guitar/keyboards, Hans Magnus Ryan on lead guitar and keyboards, and Tomas Järmyr on drums. Swedish guitarist, and long-time collaborator of the band, Reine Fiske is also listed as a contributor on the record.

The first time I listened to Kingdom of Oblivion, two things immediately stood out for me. First, as promised, the music is indeed more metallic than before, edging on the heavy/space rock side of the progressive scale, with generous echoes of Black Sabbath and Hawkwind running through the album. Songs like "The Waning", the title-track, and "The United Debased" all develop from simple but effective bass grooves or guitar riffs that are repeated obsessively as the song builds and builds amidst seas of distortion and trippy keyboards. Järmyr's drumming is perhaps less spectacular than on the previous couple of albums, but it's effective and keeps a good groove, which is what the songs really need. The vocals are often edgy, almost angry, at times channelling the spirit of an Ozzy of time past.

The second aspect of Kingdom of Oblivion that stood out is that, Motorpsycho being Motorpsycho, this couldn't "just" be a heavy rock album. Things were bound to get weirder. And indeed they do. The third track "Lady May" marks the first deviation from the promised heavy sound of the album. It's a pastoral little piece with acoustic guitar and ethereal vocals that could have been lifted from a 1970s Canterbury record. The following track "The United Debased" goes back to the heavy rock canon, deceiving the listener in believing that, perhaps, "Lady May" was just a sporadic interlude. But no, things just get weirder and weirder after that, with "The Watcher" and "Dreamkiller". The first is a soundscape made up of ambient noises, whispers and a hypnotic bass line. "Dreamkiller" develops from a psychedelic vocal choir into a hellish dreamscape built around a sinister guitar riff and a magnetic and trippy mellotron motif. By the time the acoustic instrumental piece "Atet" comes by, the listener has all but forgotten that Kingdom of Oblivion was supposed to be a simple heavy rock album.

The last part of the record marks a return to the initial metallic sound, but without forgetting all the weirdness that has passed by. It's the best of both worlds, exemplified by tracks like "At Empire's End" (probably the best song of the record, built around a formidable guitar riff), the oddly mutant "The Hunt" (starting all gentle and pastoral with flutes and acoustic guitars, before a groovy guitar ostinato makes space for something that sounds like a hissing teapot - I kid you not!), and the aptly titled "The Transmutation of Cosmoctopus Lurker". If you are wondering what the hell a cosmoctopus is, I'll tell you: it's the bastard child of Tony Iommi and a creature that came out from Alice in Wonderland, all spaced-out and dazed.

Kingdom of Oblivion is yet another great album from the Stakhanovs of progressive rock. With 24 full-lengths over 30 years of career, the Norwegians are surely one of the most prolific rock bands on earth. Astonishingly, they also almost never ever drop the ball: the quality of each new album remains high, release after release. Kingdom of Oblivion is no exception. It's not a super-easy album to get into, because it's weird. But I grew to love it because of this. It's one of those records that take you by hand and lead you on a trip where nothing is like it seems, and where everything is allowed to grow, develop and mutate into something else. We need more albums like this: metallic and heavy, but also adventurous, challenging, and daring. In four words: a work of art.

[Originally written for The Metal Observer]

TIME MACHINE Evil (Liber Primus)

Album · 2001 · Progressive Metal
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After two LPs and a string of shorter EPs, in October 2001Italian prog metallers Time Machine released their third full-length album, “Evil”, a concept album based on the novel “Cherudek” by Italian writer Valerio Evangelisti. The record marks yet another revolution in the band’s line-up, with three new members appearing on “Evil” relative to the previous release: guitarist Gianluca Ferro, drummer Claudio Riotti, and singer Pino Tozzi (all coming from Italian prog metal band Arkhè). The new members join long-time members Lorenzo Dehó (bass) and Joe Taccone (guitars), as well as a small number of guest musicians, including long-term band collaborator Roberto Gramegna on keyboards and Eddy Antonini (Skylark) on piano in “Eyes of Fire”.

“Evil” is a rather accomplished release, especially when compared to those early, roughly produced Time Machine albums. The album contains ten tracks of melodic progressive / symphonic power metal, pretty much in the vein of bands like Royal Hunt, Savatage and Threshold. There are also hints of more traditional prog metal (Dream Theater) as well as neoclassical metal (Rainbow). The tracks revolve around excellent vocal melodies and big, singalong choruses that are masterfully crafted to immediately prick up the ears. The song structures are fairly simple and never stray too far from the verse/chorus repetition, plus the occasional guitar solo. The arrangements, though, are rich and multi-layered, with a good contrast between a modern, edgy guitar sound and lush symphonic keyboard arrangements. The spotlight is often on the vocal lines, which in many tracks are really excellent. Pino Tozzi has a warm, moody voice, and he cleverly stays in a comfortable mid-range that allows for maximum expressivity.

The album contains some great songs, but also a couple of duller moments that detract a bit from the overall listening experience. The powerful, uptempo “Where’s My Heaven?” is a great way to open the album, energizing and melancholic at the same time. “Eyes of Fire” is one of the album’s highlights: propelled forward by a gritty guitar riff, this song sports a very catchy chorus and a great solo spot by Eddy Antonini on piano. “Evil Lies” is the other highlight of the album. It is a rich song, containing another excellent chorus, a nice alternation between male and female vocals (provided by guest singer Melody Castellari), a Latin choir, and an awesome dissonant guitar solo by guest musician Max Lotti. The instrumental piece “Ecclesia Spiritualis” is also interesting, with its spooky ambient sections and cool atmosphere. I also like the album closer, “Hailing Souls”, which recreates the combination of power and moodiness of the opening track. “Army of the Dead” (with its strong Royal Hunt vibes) and especially “Angel of Death” are instead somewhat less interesting and are bogged down by weaker vocal melodies and excessive repetition.

Overall, “Evil” is a thoroughly enjoyable album of modern melodic progressive metal. Blessed by a very warm and organic production and some great melodic ideas, the album flows away pleasantly and with more than a few moments of brilliance. If I were to nit-pick, perhaps the biggest downside here is that on this record Time Machine have somewhat lost those peculiar sound characteristics that had made their early records stand out from the rest of the prog metal scene (complex, multi-part songwriting driven by bass riffs and arpeggios; a distinctive “Italian” melodic flair). “Evil” sounds instead much closer to the international prog metal standard of those years, which is both a good and bad thing. It is a good thing because it shows that the band has made enormous progress compared to the uncertain, slightly amateurish early recordings. But, at the same time, this also means that Time Machine have lost along the way those characteristics that had made their initial sound unique and original. Nevertheless, “Evil” is a strong album, and if melodic prog / power metal is your poison of choice, you won’t regret giving it a try.

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lukretion wrote:
8 months ago
Thank you! :-)
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8 months ago
Welcome!
UMUR wrote:
8 months ago
Great review and nice to see a new reviewer here :-)

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