Released: 2011, My Graveyard Productions
Does it get any better than Italian Power Metal? Not in my books! What is it about that nation and their love of the sub-genre? There are at least 400 bands from Italy who play in the crowded genre. What would possess any young Metal musician from Italy to try to join that competitive field? Well, I suppose it’s the love of true Metal and we, the fans, are the winners with more choice than ever before.
Vexillum is one of the latest bunch of young Italian dudes to start to Power Metal band. Well, they have been around for several years, formerly as Shadow Vexillum but with a couple of demos to their name, they dropped the ‘Shadow’ and have issued their debut full-length album on the esteemed My Graveyard Productions, early this year. The first thing that caught my eye (naturally) was the cover-art , it’s a nice domestic scene of tavern reminiscent of Running Wild or perhaps Blind Guardian. It’s not very ‘Metal’ per se but it adds to the folk-ish feel and theme of the album.
A nice touch to THE WANDERING NOTES is that almost every song has some sort of sound-effects, people murmuring in the background, glasses clinking, ale getting poured, and so on, it sounds like a tavern and seems that the band themselves are portraying the minstrels on the front cover art playing to the patrons. It’s a well-crafted, soundscape that adds to the overall ambience and effect of the stories.
This is a surprisingly proficient and sophisticated album for a debut but then again this whole sub-genre leads to perfectionism and attention to detail, unlike say a down’ ‘n dirty rock and roll album. Some of the more interesting sonic components are the injection of folk elements, fiddles, lyres and lutes and so on, ya know all that medieval folky stuff these bands love. The virtually mandatory sweet female vocals make an appearance on the third track ‘Avalon’.
In totality, it’s still a pretty brisk Metal album. The vocalist, Dario Valesi kicks things off with a mighty scream on the opening cut ‘Neverending Quest’ and his voice is reminiscent of Andre Matos but with perhaps a bit more grit and he doesn’t sing as high all the time. Imagine a nice blend of Angra and Rhapsody but with more folk and less symphony, it’s a good sound. The songs are fairly simple in arrangement and construction, lots of guitar interjected here and there and quality performances all around. It’s fast and flows well mixing the various tempos and components really well.
Vexillum brings the power on cuts like ‘The Traveller’ and ‘Rising From The Ruins’. It’s not much of shock to hear the guest vocals of Fabio Leone (Rhapsody Of Fire) on the former track. I’d be more shocked if he didn’t make an appearance on the album! Alessio (Vision Divine) appears oas guest keyboardist on the album as well. It’s not surprising as the scene is close-knit and those guys have all toured together. ‘The Brave and The Craven is another fast double-kick driven number with nice soloing. Craven. Meaning cowardly. There is a good word you don’t see in Metal too often and speaking of lesser used words in case you were wondering what Vexillum means, a vexillum is a type of flag or standard used in ancient times, especially in military scenarios. It’s a cool name for a band.
Will Vexillum ever reach the same level of global success as Rhapsody (Of Fire)? Maybe not, but for serious student of the genre this is another great entry, a great first grab at the golden ring. Entertaining and recommended.