Reviewed: February 2021
Released: 2021, Diotima Records/ Rockshots Records
Reviewer: Rossy Maguire
SOULS OF DIOTIMA is a band with a unique style, featuring recognizable elements of traditional, progressive, and symphonic metal, as well as unconventional elements, woven together musically in a powerfully expressive new way. Their style recalls Mediterranean atmospheres and traditions, and you can call it “Mediterranean Metal”.
Coming on January 29th, 2021, the Italian female-fronted metal band will release their fourth studio album, Janas, via Diotima Records/Rockshots Records.
The album Janas is a concept, the second chapter of a journey that began with the previous album, “The Sorceress Reveals – Atlantis”. Janas tells the stories and legends of the band’s land, Sardinia. Their island is full of wonderful mythological tales and characters, of esoteric stories that are often macabre, but which portray a truly fascinating historical and cultural journey. The founder member, lyricist, and drummer, Giorgio Pinna, explains:
“We have a shared interest in the history and culture of the peoples of the sea, of the Mediterranean, and we are one of them. Much of Western history is rooted in the tales of the peoples of the sea, skilled conquerors who crossed the seas to conquer new lands or to defend their own. But there is more. Within Sardinia there are places that often remain undiscovered. Far from the more accessible touristic locations, these places are steeped in stories both true and fictitious, which we were often told during our childhood, and which probably formed the basis of our personality and the way we see the world. In brief, ‘Janas’ talks about these stories, about us, and about the Earth we have been walking on since we were born”
The album opens with the first track The Black Mask, featuring a strong synth section with backing heavy drums. The tone for the album is set within this track with some great guitar sections from the band’s guitarist, Fabio Puddu, whose nickname is shared with this track. Puddu provides more detail into the song’s meaning and explanation:
“The album’s opening track is perhaps one of the most incisive songs, and immediately defines the record. ‘The Black Mask’ is about a well-known figure in Sardinia, the Mamuthones, a creature with a black mask who dresses in fur with heavy cowbells on its back. Together with twelve other similar creatures, it jumps rhythmically, sounding its bells to warn of its passage. This characteristic dance, often perceived as a little macabre, is reproduced in several parts of the song. The Mamuthones still perform today during pagan festivals and events in Sardinia. It’s a fascinating figure, somewhere between the devilish and the sacred, a man who dons a costume to become half human and half animal. The sound of their passing has been etched into our minds since our childhood”.
Following on is the album’s shortest song but certainly awesome Sleep Demon. Isolated vocals with a backing synth create the initial intro, but it suddenly mixed in with heavy guitar riffs and drum fills. This creates a culmination of the aforementioned Mediterranean Metal elements and provides this powerful track for the listener. It is also the first time Doro’s scream vocals are introduced, adding another welcoming musical element into the mix.
However, the pace is slowed down and the tone is calmer once the listener hits The Princess of Navarra. This is no detriment to the album because Barsi’s vocals really come to life in this song and demonstrate her incredible vocal talent. This is further demonstrated within a later song called Maty but with a backing strings section to emphasise the power and awesomeness of her voice.
One of my favorite songs on the album is the title track, Janas. Starting the track is a heavy bass and drum intro later backed with a tremolo-picked guitar. The sound, power, heaviness of the song really gripped me, and found myself headbanging in different sections. Also, around 3:42, the song takes a calmer turn by having Barsi’s vocals in play with chilled instrumentals.
Closing off the album is the longest song Sherden. Harmonising vocals in a choir style create the atmosphere of what to expect and set the scene, with a short wait till the band is in full force once again. The heavy instrumentals, powerful vocals, and choir sections create this ambient, religious-esque tone to help conclude this incredible album.