EXTERIOR: A CHARMING ITALIAN CAFE – MIDDAY
Three tenors gather for a friendly lunch. After a heavy-handed Frappato pour or four, one tenor gets up to use the can.
SERVER: “Your bill, gentlemen. And thank you very much.”
TENOR 1: “Merda! I forgot my wallet!”
TENOR 2: “You’re kidding me. I left my wallet in the car!”
SERVER: “Well, thank goodness there’s a third tenor around here somewhere, no?”
The third tenor exits to the patio to find an empty table, a bill and the following note: “Sorry, compagno, had to go cut an album! We’ll pick up the next one.”
TENOR 3: “Figlio di puttana! I didn’t bring my wallet!”
• • • • •
A scenario such as this would never happen, of course, because who needs a wallet when angels unleash endless gold doubloons from their skivvies whenever the world hears you sing. Doubt me? Listen to Fabio Lione throughout “Lamento Eroico” (Power of the Dragonflame) while standing out in the open without wearing a helmet and say hello to a minor concussion and some extra loot to put toward next month’s mortgage.
Lione (Angra, Steel Seal, Eternal Idol, Vision Divine, ex-Rhapsody) and Alessandro Conti (Trick or Treat, Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody) are two of metal’s most talented active “power” tenors, and Frontiers Records loves loves loves uniting a couple of big hitters and throwing the result against the wall to see if it sticks. Sometimes it’s a “one and done” sort of deal, other times we get four (and counting) Allen/Lande records.
Despite the fact that there’s a fairly good mix of tempos and moods for the duration, every song follows a very basic structure that doesn’t allow much time for experimentation. Such a thing isn’t always a kiss of death, obviously, but when every single song features a lead in or around the 3-minute mark, and I mean every single song, you’ve got a repetition issue. Tie in the fact that Lione and Conti have a similar enough delivery that a person with little-to-no experience might not even guess the record features two vocalists and you’re suddenly faced with a design that probably would have benefited from a little more time spent in the developmental stage.
Nevertheless, there’s still plenty of good happening throughout these 45 minutes. The earlier Allen/Lande indication is particularly applicable because that was the impetus behind this entire enterprise; guitarist Simone Mularoni (DGM, Empyrios, Lalu) wanted to take a swing at swapping out Allen/Lande’s harder rock edge with something heavier and more “Italian power metal,” so not only is he responsible for all the six and four string work, he wrote every song and recorded/mixed/mastered everything in his Florentino, San Marion studio. The man’s fretwork is impeccable, particularly those leads, and fans of an overall “Stratovarian” style of bright, modern power metal will surely appreciate his use of keyboards that either hawkishly plink in the backdrop or fight alongside a handful of the guitar solos. And hey, if you love Queensrÿche, check out the clear nod to “The Mission” 2:13 into the recently released “You’re Falling.”
If you’ve been a fan of Fabio Lione and/or Alessandro Conti over any significant stretch of time, you probably find yourself pretty excited about the potential behind this match-up. Potential doesn’t necessarily equate to excellence, however, especially during a first go-round, and that’s the overall gist here. Great vocals, great guitar work and enough moments to warrant a number of returns, but the future needs more risk and an increased sense of wild adventure in order to make the overall payoff match the talent behind the mic. Basically, make the music a stronger fit for what’s going on with that crazy album cover artwork. With any luck, Frontiers will allow this project the chance to develop things further with record number two.