This is, without a doubt in my mind, one of the most musically competent and exciting "metal" albums ever released. The only equivilant musical forces I can imagine are Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. While the songwriting here is monumental, the musicianship is also noteworthy. The drumming is exceptional, not at all your standard metal fare but instead trained jazz drumming. Odd timings abound. The bass playing is phenomenal and used like a real instrument, not just a constant root note, another common downfall of metal songwriting. The Trumpet is more importantly than anything, tasteful. It enters occasionally and never stick around. It is exciting and dynamic and and excellent addition to the band. The lyrics are well written and intriguing and the use of two vocalists, one clean and one screamed is great and again, tasteful. Finally, the guitar playing, which I save for last because David Tiso is the primary composer and driving force in this band (only original member). He is clearly well trained and has a thorough understanding of music theory, especially modulation. For example, Praha (Ancient Gold) slides in and out of keys seemlessly.
As some background to this album, David Tiso, after releasing two progressive black metal albums with Ephel Duath, refused to let it die and made a complete genre switch. He recruited a 40 year old jazz drum teacher that had never played metal, a bass prodigy, and two vocals who quite honestly are the least interesting members of the band and were it not for the lyrics, least essential. The trumpet seems to have little background but is clearly well trained.
The songs here are astounding. The mix is spot on, with every instrument always present and never drowned in effects or distortion. Nothing feels overdone nor repetitive and needless to say nothing feels cliche. I feel it should suffice to say that each track is a musical adventure independently.
The album's downfall? It is too musical. People without an appreciation for exceptional musicianship and musicality will find themselves lost, searching for a predeictable theme. This isn't to say that the album isn't melodic, it is, quite, but it is not conventional. There are not singalongs and I doubt most people could guess the next note as is common in conventional western music. I would recommend this album to your music teachers.
While some may complain about the harsh vocals, I would give them the same response I give in regards to the vocals on a grind album. A scream produces a very distinct and different effect that a sweetly sung note. In an album so thick with textures, it is only logical that David Tiso would want every possible sound mixed in. If one considers that a third or a second used to be considered dissonant, one must assume that with time and acceptance, a scream will cease to feel like noise and become a decipherable sound. After only 2 years of listening to music with harsh vocals, I can pick out a desierable scream, a high range, a growl and many other subtleties that would be the equivilant of a 5th vs a tritone sung into the ears of a neanderthal.
I hope everyone who considers themself a fan of progressive and advanced music will take the time to listen to this album and also take the time to appreciate it.
David Tiso - Guitar, Songwriting
Fabbio Fecchio - Bass
Luciano Lusso George - Screamed Vocals
Davide Piocesan - Drums
Maurizio Scomparin - Trumpet
David Tolme - Clean Vocals