Great Master
Skull and Bones



by TheClansman95 USER (4 Reviews)
November 11th, 2019 | 5 replies

Release Date: 11/14/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Great Master craft one of the best power metal releases of the year, providing a real breath of fresh air for the Italian power metal scene.

In a musical scenario that’s overwhelmed by countless underground bands trying to emerge, it’s always a pleasure seeing a talented group of artists standing out among the others, thanks to the passion and the skill they are able to instill in their music, especially if the group in question is composed of fellow countrymen, old guard power metallers. I’m talking about Great Master, of course, who, after a more than 25 years-long career and countless lineup changes, grace us in 2019 with yet another piece of excellent music, namely their latest album, “Skull and Bones”, which is not only one of the most exciting power metal releases of the year, but also a real breath of fresh air for the Italian power metal scene, and possibly the finest addition to the band’s already brilliant catalogue.

With this album, Great Master expand their sound, exploring folk territories, and crafting a release that, due to the themes and the combination of folk and power metal, could be ascribed to the often debated “pirate metal” subgenre, thus marking a firm stylistic shift from great part of the Italian power metal scene. Furthermore, Great Master carefully avoid the willingly goofy or comical songwriting style typical of bands like Alestorm, opting instead for a serious approach that makes of storytelling, perfectly fitting atmospheres and catchy hooks the means to bewitch the listener, and make his imagination drift away to exotic, distant shores. The core of the sound of Great Master incorporates typical speed and power metal elements, and revolves around simple yet effective melodies and harmonized guitar leads, making of catchiness its main strength. Furthermore, the newfound folk influences, evident in the use of instruments like the accordion and the violin, and in the structure of the melodies employed, perfectly succeed in creating the piratical atmosphere the band was aiming to obtain, naturally matching the history narrated throughout the album, which consists in a prequel to the events narrated in Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island”. The whole lot is seasoned by epic keyboards arrangements and choirs that sound as if they were sung by a real crew of buccaneers, adding a majestic and heroic feel to the music.

The “simple yet effective” formula results in a total victory for Great Master, with every band member giving it all for the entire duration of the full-length, and providing some of the best performances of the band’s career. The duo of guitarists frequently engages in melodic, passionate solos and catchy guitar leads, matched by a solid rhytm section, which sees a remarkably solid double bass work taking the main spot. However, it’s undeniably the latest two additions to the band’s lineup, namely singer Stefano “Stex” Sbrignadello and keyboard player Giorgio Peccenini, that prove to be crucial to cement the combination of elements that makes “Skull and Bones” a triumph. While the orchestrations played by Giorgio are essential to create the general atmosphere of the album and its sense of epic, Stefano’s vocals are the real driving force of the songs, thanks to the memorable patterns of his arrangements, his theatrical style, the passion he conveys in his interpretations and the masterful use of his singing ability, which is characterized by a style somewhat more reminescent of classic heavy metal bands (such as Iron Maiden) than of the classic, whiny power metal singer, thus preventing him from sounding like the umpteenth average Kiske-inspired vocalist.

The platter is absolutely strong and memorable from start to finish, characterized by an incredible cohesion that serves well the purpose of the concept, yet retaining some due variety in the while, so as to never bore the listener. Each song retains indeed a well-distinct identity from the others, both musically and emotionally speaking; the album starts in epic fashion, to generally shift towards more tragic territories with the second half, and reaching the most touching point with the ballad “A Hanged Man”, placed exactly in the middle of the platter. Highlights include album opener “Shine On”, which perfectly succeeds in making the listener’s heart pump in an epic piratic fashion, thanks to the brilliant chorus and superb riffing, “Long John Silver”, characterized by incredibly catchy and instantly memorable vocal lines, plus some really awesome keyboard arrangements, “Urca de Lima”, probably the most epic song of the whole lot, and “The Black Spot”, the darkest and most evil song of the platter, which sees the frontman’s theatrical attitude shine at its best. Last but not at least, “Skull and Bones”, the title track, is not directly linked to the concept of the previous songs, but it closes the album in the best way possible, thanks to its extremely catchy and anthemic nature. It’s also the most folk-metalish song of the release, and you might be curious to find out who’s the special guest playing the violin solo. All in all, “Skull and Bones – Tales From Over the Seas” is a fantastic album, suitable for any folk/power metal aficionado, and I’m sure that with this release we’ll see more and more people join the Great Master crew, while old fans of the band have definitely found yet another treasure to satisfy their thirst for metal. The North Star seems to shine brighter than ever for this group of buccaneers, plotting a course of great fortune to come, so what else can I say? Sails! Two-Six, Heave!

Originally written for "".

user ratings (10)

Comments:Add a Comment 
November 11th 2019


Album Rating: 4.0

I recommend this album to any power metal aficionado, I just had to review this. Incredibly strong and enjoyable release, extremely fun to listen to. This band needs more love!

Digging: Archspire - Relentless Mutation

November 11th 2019


these guys live in my same city. Will give this a spin when it's officially released, power metal can be fun when done right

November 11th 2019


Album Rating: 4.0

definitely worth at least a listen if you like power metal. I got my hands on the promo version because I use to write reviews for a webzine, I will buy the physical copy as soon as I can. I really love it

November 12th 2019


I love pirate metal so I’m sold.

Digging: Guild Of Lore - Autumn Macabre

November 12th 2019


Album Rating: 4.0

Check it out man! It's gonna please you for sure! It should be out on november 14th

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