Darktribe – Mysticeti Victoria
A debut album can be exciting, but it can also be a tricky thing sometimes, as even many of the bands now considered among the absolute elite of their genre had fairly humble beginnings, only showing faint signs of the greatness they would eventually achieve. It is no surprise then that I find myself both entertained, yet somewhat frustrated by Mysticeti Victoria, the debut of French power metal band Darktribe. Obviously, I’m not saying they will ever be considered an elite band or even a great one, but they certainly show some signs of being very good. The problem is, they have a hard time stringing enough good songs together, or even enough memorable sections to make a good song, in most cases.
As far as talent goes, Darktribe has no shortage of it. The leads are always strong, and I was instantly impressed by some of the solos, especially one in the middle of “Roma XXI”. They are just as good at writing catchy melodies, as many of the choruses were stuck in my head long after listening to the album once. You can imagine then, how much they had caught on after five listens. Sadly, they aren’t as good when it comes to writing entire songs. In fact, while I particularly love the chorus of “Black Meteor”, I can barely remember anything else about the song, except that I always waited impatiently for the chorus to show up. The only song I’d say I love the whole way through is “Lost”, which is a very enjoyable and rather speedy power metal song. Perhaps it doesn’t help that many of the other songs are more mid-tempo, though even other fast songs like “Roma XXI” aren’t that great on the whole.
However, the biggest problem with the album is one I don’t think they can fix as easily as inconsistent songwriting: vocalist Anthony Agnello has a very strong accent, and while this usually isn’t something that bothers me, in this case it is very noticeable and often drags songs down. For example, the only reason I don’t like the first real song, “Taiji”, the whole way through is because his accent is so strong in the chorus that it makes the lyrics nearly incomprehensible (though I did finally figure them out on attempt number four), and it sometimes sounds like he’s just saying a bunch of gibberish. Aside from that, his voice is fine most of time, aside from when he uses a lower register, which can be very grating. As far as actual singing goes, he won’t blow anyone away, but he’s competent.
Even with inconsistent songwriting, I think the band is at their best when they focus on playing simple, catchy power metal with light symphonic elements, which they do for almost the entire first half (aside from the typical intro track), plus a ballad. Speaking of which, “Lightning Guide” is yet another song with a great chorus where Anthony sounds quite good, but it’s ultimately dragged down by boring verses which seem to go on forever. The worst song on the album has to be “Beware The God”, where the band switches to a very heavy progressive style, which doesn’t work too well for them. More importantly, Anthony’s voice is at its worst on this song, and is quite irritating.
Despite all my complaints, I did enjoy Mysticeti Victoria quite a bit, and I would recommend it to fans of the genre. I just wish it was more consistent. The most frustrating thing is, aside from that one bad song, all the others have something to like, but there’s only the one I really enjoy the whole way through. Basically, it’s what you expect from a debut, in that there’s a whole lot of promise, but the band hasn’t figured out how to make everything work just yet. I’m certainly interested to see whether or not they will improve with future albums. Hopefully they do.
Travis Green’s Rating: 3.25 out of 5