From Italy comes the fledgling rock label SG Records and one of their flagship bands, Voices From Beyond, who have released their debut album THE GATES OF MADNESS, a ballsy mixture of heavy power metal, traditional metal and Noughties thrash.
The first thing that struck me, and which many listeners will pick up on as well, is singer Roberto’s uncanny vocal resemblance to Helloween’s Michael Kiske of KEEPER I vintage, especially when Roberto starts hitting the glass-shattering registers. Now I love a good power metal scream as much as anyone else, but Kiske learned gradually to rein in the old vocal acrobatics, whereas I feel that Roberto goes too far too often. A lot of the album is sung at a register where he may not be totally comfortable singing at, but this is merely the impression I get. It must also be mentioned that he throws in occasional metalcore-ish type screams, creating a dynamic reminiscent of the one 3 Inches of Blood used to have. It’s certainly a nice novelty to have, especially when you’re not expecting it – that being said, I’m not sure he has the pipes to do it consistently. And although some of the phrasing and vocal melodic lines leave something to be desired, overall he does well.
The guitarwork of Andrea and Matteo is certainly electric – the riffs are totally in-your-face and cocks-out-balls-to-the-wall belligerent – just the way metal is supposed to be! There’s hints of Grave Digger, Evile and Municipal Waste in there with an occasional In Flames vibe, and when the album is played at such a satisfyingly breakneck pace, the finer points of power metal and thrash metal riffing melt together into a compelling wholeness. There’s nothing too much in the way of lead playing, the band prefers to eschew the traditional rock song format by prioritising riff writing – seamless riff changes give the song the energy and drive. This is another refreshing move from a young power/thrash band that might be expected to be all flashy solos and no substance. Instead there are no ill-conceived pointless solo sessions, just riff after riff with Roberto’s caterwauling in the foreground. Immense kudos to them for this move.
There is still a rawness around the edges of this band, and certain musical ideas, while not executed or fleshed out properly, certainly do put a smile on your face for their blatant audacity – I especially love that little Candlemass-sounding break going into the second minute of Track 3 (‘Voices From Beyond’)! With a little tinkering to their songwriting, and more vocal maturity from their singer, Voices From Beyond certainly do have what it takes to break out of Italy, at the very least, a European audience awaits them.
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