The Mansion Of Lost Souls
Released: 2013, Self-Released
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Antonello Giliberto is a rising instrumental guitarist hailing from Sicily in Italy, having begun
learning guitar formally under the tuition of Alfredo D'Urso in 1992 before going on to
obtain two degrees in fusion guitar from the Sicilian Guitar Academy, where he later
His intense dedication to the craft and mastery of the guitar was furthered in 2011
when he attended the European Summer Campus, wherein he undertook classes held by
such esteemed shredders as Paul Gilbert, Guthrie Govan and Andy Timmons amongst a
number of others all while perpetuating in the Baroque-style of Johann Sebastian Bach
modernised by Swedish shredder Yngwie Malmsteen. The sheer vastness of this
dedication to the art of playing guitar and creating intricate neo-classical music cries out in
volumes on this debut, The Mansion Of Lost Souls.
Throughout the album, you can hear Giliberto's influences – there are Bach-like licks,
Malmsteen-style relentless shred (“The Power Of The Whip” screams Malmsteen) and
nods in the direction of the aforementioned messrs Gilbert, Govan and Timmons.
Fortunately, he has an incredible command of his guitar and can stand up to his influences
for ability. But for all the ability in the world, an instrumental album needs to remain
interesting to account for the lack of vocals, yet not become a lesson in mindless fretbothering
and Giliberto has enough sense to ensure this. Songs like “Equinox” and “Flight
Of The Sleeper” utilise themes and phrases that return later, sometimes exactly the same
or otherwise expanded upon, with further progressions or harmonies added. Riffs do the
same and give a strong sense of structure to each track – it's not quite Verse-Chorus-
Verse-etc., but there are a set number of riffs and Giliberto uses them well. Dull it is not.
The press release describes the sound of the album as being “heavy, very dark...” - it is
indeed a heavy instrumental album, though fans of Jeff Loomis' recent efforts who may
take a listen will likely disagree. With that in mind, it should be noted that it is a product of
the creator's influences - this album would not feel out of place in the heyday of 80s shred
music, so for that it remains a heavy effort. There is an overall dark feel to it, though it
won't quite extend to the overarching dark found on more extreme metal albums
(instrumental or otherwise).
The album doesn't entirely consist of shred as there are several softer, pseudo-ambientwith-
acoustic-guitar tracks like “Sorrow” and “Dream Of The Dead Tree”. It again maintains
the listener's interest by changing things up and allowing time to draw breath and appreciate the earlier onslaught and the progressing melodies. With that in-mind and to expand upon an earlier point in this review, Giliberto carries this forward into his lead work his shredding is sublime, but he allows time to draw breath and slow down, sustain notes and execute slower, emotive phrases.
But there are some pitfalls to The Mansion Of Lost Souls. Firstly, the drums are clearly programmed (not a problem, given many albums have had programmed drums utilised i.e. Fear Factory's recent The Industrialist and Meshuggah's Catch Thirtythree), however when you can so easily tell that they are programmed and with what program, problems will arise. They sound thin and have had very little editing done to craft a better sound from them; the snare and kick are also rather noticeable in the mix and none more so than in some of the double kick blasts through “Rise Of The Titans” - wow. Some of the fills are reused through the course of the album (and even then, they are only a stock fill from the program used), whilst the drumming itself at-times is a little uninspired – double bass is the name of the game here.
The bass guitar and the overall mix on certain tracks throws up another two issues – the bass has very little low-end; consisting primarily of a treble “click” and a warm middle frequency. When it locks in with Giliberto's rhythm guitars, it's fine, but when he adds phrases, licks and inflections it stands out and doesn't hold its own. As for the mix, generally it is fine (aside from the aforementioned), however on certain tracks it falls down. “Entr'act” musically is lovely, but the bizarre choice of a phaser on each guitar makes for a weird piece that sticks out far too much in the grand scheme of the album.
Some guitars fade into the mix on certain tracks (i.e. “Rise Of The Titans”), which is disappointing
because the guitar playing is the focus of the album and needs to remain as such. Additionally, the choice to put another psuedo-ambient track at the end of the album doesn't really give the album a decent sense of closure.
As a guitar-album, The Mansion Of Lost Souls is a fine mixture of technique, precision and ongwriting; balancing neo-classical finger-flaying with delicate musicality. As both a product of influence and hark to the heyday of shred, it stands up well. It's unfortunate that Giliberto doesn't have a band because a human drummer and a bassist behind him would both alleviate the album's shortcomings and elevate it right up. However, despite the plastic-sounding programmed drums and mixing issues, guitarists can appreciate the techniques on display here and rock/metal fans as a whole can enjoy the trip back to 80s shred.
Review by Lee Carter