Album Review – Kantica / Reborn in Aesthetics (2018)

Binding Heavy and Power Metal sounds to the orchestral parts of classical music, here comes a promising Italian act with their very melodic and symphonic debut full-length album.

Raised from the ashes of a band named Keeper of Time (which by the way was originally called Guardian of Time when it was created back in 2012), Italian Symphonic Metal act Kantica was born around 2014 from the idea of guitarist Matteo “Vevo” Venzano, who searched for musicians to start a band where they could bind Heavy and Power Metal sounds to the orchestral parts of classical music.  After many lineup changes and a shift from male to female vocals, this Savona, Ligury-based band finally changed its name into Kantica in April 2016, reaching a stable lineup the following year and consequently getting into gear for the release of their debut album in 2018, titled Reborn in Aesthetics.

After the recording of the album, Kantica suffered another lineup change with drummer Daniele Barbarossa leaving the band, being immediately replaced by the young and talented Tiziana “Titti” Cotella. Titti now joins frontwoman Chiara Manese on vocals, Andy “K” Cappellari and Vevo on the guitars, Fulvio De Castelli on bass and Enrico Borro on keyboards, aiming at spreading their heavy and symphonic music born from the fusion of different styles, backgrounds and experiences from the band’s current and former members. In Reborn in Aesthetics (which by the way features an array of guest musicians such as Fabio Rinaudo on bagpipes and Stefano Pellegrino on cello), not only the band successfully achieves their main goal, but they also put the charming port city of Savona on the map of Melodic and Symphonic Metal.

The cinematic intro (Re)Born Unto Aestheticism transports us to the epic world ruled by Kantica, with Fascination of the Elements bringing a fast and furious start that quickly morphs into pure Symphonic Metal led by the beautiful voice by Chiara and the flammable guitars by Andy and Vevo. Then, getting to an even more symphonic sonority led by the band’s former drummer Daniele Barbarossa and his precise beats, the band enhances their epicness and electricity in And Then There Was Pain, with Chiara stealing the spotlight with her potent vocals. And presenting hints of Folk and Epic Metal (which boosts the flavor of the band’s classic Symphonic Metal) we have Hellborn Lust, showcasing a great job done by both Andy and Vevo on the guitars as well as Enrico with his whimsical keys.

Enrico continues to mesmerize us with his keys in another powerful tune by Kantica, titled Albatross, where Chiara’s voice sounds fantastic once again, not to mention Daniele and his kick-ass fast-paced drums. In order to makes things even more flavorful, the band offers us a gentle break before returning with their full-bodied sonority, with Andy and Enrico delivering excellent solos until the song’s finale. In R.E.M. State, operatic elements in the background make the music even more epic and impactful than usual, with Enrico, Andy and Vevo, together with Fulvio on bass, creating a wall of sounds with their strings; followed by From Decay to Ascension, another song with a Folk Metal vibe without losing the band’s core symphonic essence. Put differently, this is a movie score-inspired creation by Kantica where Chiara embellishes the ambience with her passionate vocal performance once again.

Illegitimate Son brings a Nightwish-like sonority, presenting all elements fans of the genre enjoy such as rhythmic drums, melodious riffs and strong female vocals, with adrenaline and passion flowing throughout the entire song which, in the end, makes it one of the top moments of the album without a shadow of a doubt. And speeding up their pace, Kantica awes us all with Psychological Vampire, a full-bodied shredding feast-like song with Andy and Vevo being absolutely on fire with their axes, also with Chiara increasing her vocal reach, culminating in a truly inspiring performance by our Italian diva. The second to last song in Reborn in Aesthetics, named Lovecide, is an interesting power ballad by Kantica, displaying pounding drums and a dark and ethereal atmosphere, with the music flowing smoothly from start to finish thanks to the excellent guitar lines by both Andy and Vevo. And closing the album there’s more first-class Melodic and Symphonic Metal for our avid ears in the form of a song titled Mescaline, with its solid and steady musicality being complemented by eerie sounds and elements in the background, captivating our attention while Enrico and Andy have a short and sweet solo duel.

You can take a full, detailed listen at Reborn in Aesthetics on Spotify, keep up-to-date with everything Kantica on their Facebook page, and grab your copy of such excellent display of symphonic and melodic music on the Revalve Records Big Cartel, as wel as on iTunes or on Amazon. After listening to Reborn in Aesthetics, it seems that after all lineup changes Kantica have finally reached their desired shape and form, providing fans of Symphonic Metal a well-balanced and fun alternative hailing from the Italian underground scene, and let’s hope the magic crafted by Kantica goes on for years to come with more top-tier releases like their debut installment.

Best moments of the album: Hellborn Lust, Albatross, Illegitimate Son and Psychological Vampire.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Revalve Records

Track listing
1. (Re)Born Unto Aestheticism (Instrumental) 1:14
2. Fascination of the Elements 5:55
3. And Then There Was Pain 4:23
4. Hellborn Lust 4:23
5. Albatross 4:59
6. R.E.M. State 4:42
7. From Decay to Ascension 3:10
8. Illegitimate Son 5:10
9. Psychological Vampire 5:00
10. Lovecide 5:11
11. Mescaline 5:13

Band members
Chiara Manese – vocals
Andy “K” Cappellari – lead guitars
Matteo “Vevo” Venzano – rhytm guitar
Fulvio De Castelli – bass
Enrico Borro – keyboards
Tiziana “Titti” Cotella – drums*

Guest musicians
Fabio Rinaudo – bagpipes
Michel Balatti – tin whistle, flute
Stefano Pellegrino – cello
Mattia Fenoglio – percussion

* Drums recorded by Daniele Barbarossa

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Album Review – Avelion / Illusion of Transparency (2017)

An emotional journey through the fragility and strength of human nature presented by an up-and-coming Italian band ready to conquer the world of melodic and modern Heavy Metal.

Aiming at overpowering genre classification by creating a new form of Modern Metal mixed with Progressive Metal influences and expressions, the talented squad of Italian metallers known as Avelion are set to conquer the world of heavy music with their first full-length album, the beautiful Illusion of Transparency, an emotional journey through the fragility and strength of human nature. Founded in 2008 in Parma, a city in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, this Melodic Metal act already released two strong albums, the EP Cold Embrace in 2011 and another EP titled Liquid Breathing in 2013 (followed by a mini-tour in Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia), but it’s with their new album that they’ve finally reached their most effective and promising shape to date.

Featuring the artwork, design and photography by Stefano Mattioni (Viron 2.0), Illusion of Transparency not only brings all the characteristics of high-end Melodic Metal, but its lyrics will also reach to your heart and your mind in an exciting manner. “The introspective lyrics revolve around the human condition: interpersonal conflict, dehumanization and the difficulty that someone could experience while trying to “fit” into society are the themes of the album”, said frontman William Verderi. Keyboardist Oreste Giacomini also complemented that thought, saying that “we all live in the illusion of transparency. Just think about the media, the internet and our cognitive bias. Reality is becoming more and more blurred and shady.”

In the opening track Fading Out the futuristic sounds by Oreste are suddenly joined by the melodic voice by William and the powerful, electrifying guitars and beats by Leonardo Freggi and Alessandro Ponzi, respectively, sounding like a fast-paced hybrid of Dream Theater and Stratovarius, therefore providing a flawless depiction of what this talented band is capable of doing. Echoes and Fragrance, a song that’s very progressive and exciting from start to finish, presents more modern sounds emanating from the whimsical keyboards by Oreste, while Leonardo and bassist Danilo Arisi deliver thunderous lines through their strings; followed by Burst Inside, where Oreste is once again responsible for building a metallic ambience for the rest of the band to deliver their potent fusion of Progressive and Melodic Metal. Furthermore, the intricate drumming by Alessandro and the Dream Theater-inspired performance by William on vocals are the highlights of this great song, making it even more compelling for fans of the genre.

Increasing the level of epicness and feeling, Avelion deliver an emotive tune titled Derailed Trails of Life, a futuristic semi-ballad showcasing a powerful atmosphere and featuring the tender, delicate backing vocals by guest singer Francesca Pasquinelli, not to mention the soulful guitar solo by Leonardo at the end. In the next track, Falling Down, a piano intro quickly turns into a modern Heavy Metal feast, yet again presenting elements from the music by bands such as Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica and DragonForce, with Leonardo and Danilo providing some good balance with their heavy strings in contrast with the smooth keyboards by Oreste. Innocence Dies, a progressive and dark creation by Avelion with a lot of intricacy added to its melody, is perfect for explaining to the average person what modern Melodic Metal is all about, while in the electrified tune Waste My Time the bass guitar by Danilo sounds absolutely thunderous. Moreover, this awesome composition presents several breaks amidst the heaviness blasted by all instruments, while William continues to impress with his tuneful vocals.

The last batch of songs from the album keeps the energy flowing smoothly, starting with Open Your Eyes, where more rumbling sounds permeate the song’s industrialized ambience. However, what starts as sheer heaviness suddenly morphs into a power ballad that, despite its complexity and energy, doesn’t live up to the rest of the album in terms of quality. Blending the underground aura of Progressive Metal with mainstream modern Hard Rock, Ain’t No Dawn displays a superb performance by Oreste and Alessandro with their respective instruments, not to mention the song’s precise tempo changes, before Never Wanted, the last track in Illusion of Transparency, presents a more-than-pure Avelion sonority, from its rhythmic drumming to its slashing and melodic riffs, with William stealing the spotlight with one of his strongest vocal performances of the whole album, flowing to a climatic and harmonious ending.

In a nutshell, Avelion sound more than ready to conquer the world of heavy music with the sheer awesomeness found in Illusion of Transparency, and you can start following this up-and-coming band on Facebook to know more about their music and projects, as well as listen to their music on YouTube or SoundCloud. If you’re a fan of Melodic Metal always searching for new amazing bands to enhance your collection, go to the Revalve Records’ Big Cartel, to iTunes or to Amazon and buy your copy of this top-tier, full-bodied album by Avelion. Illusion of Transparency might discuss about the fragility and strength of human nature, but its music is far from being fragile or weak. Quite the contrary, this is potent Heavy Metal, just the way we love it.

Best moments of the album: Fading Out, Derailed Trails of Life and Waste My Time.

Worst moments of the album: Open Your Eyes.

Released in 2017 Revalve Records

Track listing
1. Fading Out 4:46
2. Echoes and Fragrance 4:31
3. Burst Inside 3:44
4. Derailed Trails of Life 4:38
5. Falling Down 5:30
6. Innocence Dies 3:11
7. Waste My Time 4:03
8. Open Your Eyes 3:39
9. Ain’t No Dawn 4:47
10. Never Wanted 4:16

Bonus track
11. Echoes and Fragments (The Algorithm Remix) 4:01

Band members
William Verderi – vocals
Leonardo Freggi – guitars
Danilo Arisi – bass
Oreste Giacomini – keyboards, programming
Alessandro Ponzi – drums

Guest musicians
Gianmarco Soldi – guitar solos on “Open Your Eyes” and “Ain’t No Dawn”, backing vocals on “Ain’t No Dawn”
Olaf Thörsen – guitar solo on “Falling Down”
Francesca Pasquinelli – backing vocals on “Derailed Trails of Life” and “Falling Down”