Released: 2015, Limb Records
In a very short period of time Italy’s Vexillum have become one the elite Power/Folk Metal bands. The band has just released their 3rd album UNUM and it also firmly establishes them as one of my favourite in that style.
Vexillum has had not too many changes in the few years since their last album, they have a new guitarist and they are still on Limb Records. The album cover and title are nice but perhaps a little dull. The production is as good or better than ever, everything is nice and clear.
Like all of their albums, UNUM has strong themes and atmospheric components. There are sound effects, narration and lots of folk instrumentation scattered across the fast heavy songs. There are lots of gang vocals and there are choral vocals that really fill out the sound. The band has a knack of writing catchy and heavy songs at the same time. The pace is fast but not relentless there is nice variation in tone and tempo but the band never sacrifice the Metal. The choruses are very memorable and invite the listener to sing-along.
There are some nice bonus features on UNUM. Now that they have some status and prestige they have a bunch of guest stars playing various roles. We have Chris Bay (Freedom Call) as The Jester, Mark Boals (ex-Yngwie) as The Hermit, Maxi Nils (ex-Visions Of Atlantis) as Lady Thief and perhaps most impressively, Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian) as The Sentenced. UNUM is a concept album where the main character is on a quest and meets different characters played by the guests stars. The album ends off with a pair of cover tunes, a traditional Italian pop-tune sung in their native tongue and a fun/punchy cover of the Slade tune, ‘Run Runaway’.
To me the album might be a bit short. The album is 47 minutes long and if you take away the two cover tunes you have only 39 minutes of original music. The debut was 57 minutes and the follow-up was 67 minutes, so UNUM certainly left me wanting more. At risk of sounding negative you have a relatively short album, two cover tunes and lots of guest stars. I just hope that these are not early indicators that the band is running out of ideas and are relying on padding and extra features. I don’t think so as the music is world-class.
UNUM in my mind is as good as albums by Elvenking, Falconer, Wuthering Heights and other bands that have that perfect blend of folk and Power Metal.