Headquakes – Fallout Diaries
Hearing a band name like Headquakes made me think of a second-rate thrash outfit with some silly cover artwork and about a five year lifespan, but the group bearing this name is actually a decent enough heavy/power act that has just released its second studio album. The aptly titled Fallout Diaries seems to be a concept album based on the assumption that World War III has broken out, with atomic weapons erupting across the face of the earth. Now, I’m never a fan of voiceovers in any music, but I will grudgingly accept the faux radio broadcast that is “Vacuum”, since it’s the only overt reminder of the album’s status as a concept release.
Opener “Come With Me” didn’t blow me away with power, but I was immediately impressed with the different style of this Italian band. I keep saying that groups from this country are no longer bound by the inherent style of power metal forefathers like Rhapsody and Domine, and Headquakes is one more fine example. Boasting a more straightforward approach and slightly edged vocals that show no inherent weakness in either the low or high register, Fallout Diaries eventually won me over with its differentiated composition and a number of catchy mid-tempo tracks.
Foremost among these is the very good “Letters From Sector Alpha”, which features a shining power metal chorus that immediately endeared the band to me. Stepping back though, “Pray Anymore”, “Come With Me”, and “Just Eyes” are all worthy tracks in their own right. Even though most of the band’s songs seem to stagnate a bit during verses, they are inevitably elevated by their varied refrains, most of which are bolstered by solid riffing and here and there a shriek by vocalist Giovanni Vernier. Despite instinctually bristling when hearing his singing for the first time, I’ve come to appreciate it, right down to the little tidbits of vibrato on the end of his phrasing. I have considerable appreciation for his pronunciation of English as well, which is tight, and his command of the language is superior to many of his countrymen.
If you’re looking for a refreshing romp of something that’s neither too heavy nor too light, and have had it with faster music, pick this up. While Fallout Diaries never dips into a ballad, its steady pace doesn’t fail to keep the listener entertained, and grasping the album concept is not necessary for enjoyment. I haven’t heard the band’s debut, but if they improve upon this next time around, they’ll be doing very well for themselves!
Dan’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5