Mastercastle – Dangerous Diamonds
For my first ever promo review we have Dangerous Diamonds, the third full length album from Italian power metal band Mastercastle. I’ve never heard the band before, but I had read some positive things about them over the past couple of years, so when I had the opportunity to review this album I couldn’t resist. From reading about the band I knew the two founding members were guitarist Pier Gonella and vocalist Giorgia Gueglio, and to expect a variety of different sounds.
When I first started the album the beginning of “Another Flower” made me think this would be a more forceful and aggressive kind of album, but as I dug deeper into the album I realized my first impressions were dead wrong. It’s actually a nice blend of classic power metal and a little bit of heavy metal, with some modern touches here and there, including that beginning. Pier Gonella is an excellent guitarist with a strong sense of melody which is displayed frequently throughout the album, even on the rest of that one song. He’s also very impressive technically, and shows some of that on and off. Particularly impressive is his solo on “Au premiere coup”, where he adds in a bit of a screeching sound with the already impressive playing.
Giorgia Gueglio is a solid vocalist, with a nice rocking kind of a voice that fits in perfectly with the music. But I actually think she’s at her best when singing more softly, as she displays on the excellent song “Time 4 Lovers”. I feel that song would work well as a single, and could even give the band some attention as it’s very melodic, very simple and extremely catchy. It’s also one of the slower songs on the album, so perhaps some will complain about it, but for me it’s the best of the songs with vocals and the chorus will stick with me for a long time, I’m sure. The sole ballad of the album is “Lovin’ Me”, which is also very beautiful and well sung. However, I do have two minor complaints about Giorgia: Sometimes she transitions a little bit awkwardly from note to note, usually caused by her overextending the last word of a sentence. This is at its worst on the aforementioned “Another Flower” and originally made me thing she was unpolished. This ended up being false, as she sounds great most of the time, but I do think she could be a little bit smoother with her delivery. Also, this is really just nitpicking, but on the title track she slightly mispronounces “Dangerous”.
I mentioned the strong guitar work before. Well, I actually think if Gonella wanted to he could probably succeed in doing something a lot more complex and adventurous, but for the majority of the album he chooses to keep things fairly simple and straightforward, appealing to fans of the more melodic side of metal. On all the songs with vocals there is nothing surprising here, but all the songs are catchy and none of them are weak. In general, the riffs are used in quick bursts, and the melodies dominate, which pleases me. There is a nice mix of fast songs and mid-tempo songs, to go along with the two slower ones I mentioned. If they stopped there, the album would have been one I’d easily recommend to fans of melodic power metal, who don’t need the music to always be fast, but it wouldn’t really stand out.
However, there is one big surprise, and that comes in the form of “Blue Diamond”, a very unique and exciting instrumental, which happens to be the highlight of the album. For just this one song Gonella goes all out, abandoning his usual style for a much more progressive sound, with lots of layers to it. It opens with a pretty cool orchestral sound, before adding in symphonic keys, some electronic music and even some weird voices in the background at one point. It makes for an interesting break from the usual, and shows a different side of the band, that perhaps should come out just a little bit more on future releases.
Aside from that one song there is nothing groundbreaking here, but Mastercastle have delivered a very strong effort with excellent melodies, a talented and rather unique female vocalist, and some very solid and memorable songs. Definitely recommended for power metal fans.
Travis Green’s Rating: 3.75 out of 5