Mesmerize – Paintropy
Mesmerize – Paintropy (2013)
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
What may seem to some to be an attempt at a dark and aggressive album from a long-thought-dead Italian heavy metal group is, to me, a hope at the return and advancement of the unpolished but energetic band that once provided us hopeful and promising attempts such as Off The Beaten Path and Stainless. However, Mesmerize has definitely changed its pace considerably since last we heard from the Italians in 2005.
Paintropy presents an unprecedentedly (For Mesmerize) dark album cover, which accurately advertises the new brand of “modernized”, “heavier” heavy metal contained within. I use those terms in quotations, mostly because I see them as what the band is aiming for, but has not necessarily achieved. Unfortunately, I don’t think these attempts have worked well and, quite frankly, I don’t care for the change in style after what seemed to be a progressive improvement over the last couple of albums.
The guitars on Paintropy are more rhythmic and riffing than they have been in albums past. However, the tone is also more flat and one-dimensional (compare to almost anything on Stainless and you’ll see what I mean). Partially as a consequence, the riffing here sounds very mechanical and uninspired. Despite the fact that overall production is better and musicianship is tighter, the band’s energy level seems to have positively tanked, and has particularly fallen out of the rhythm guitar and drums.
Folco Orlandini’s vocals have also undergone some changes. While he traditionally has sung a competent, if occasionally thin, tenor, he has adopted a measurably rougher voice on Paintropy, and rather favors the mid-range (with a great deal of speech-singing, I might add) on most songs from this album. This is in keeping with the aforementioned stylistic changes, but while Orlandini has never been an exceptional vocalist, he doesn’t exactly endear or flatter himself with this simpler style of singing, at which I find him no more than competent.
While my general disappointment in this album should be quite clear by now, there are a couple of exceptions. The most notable of which is the silly but fun “Mrs. Judas” – a nod to the style of heavy/power that the band used to embrace, as well as the slightly more varied and hooky closer “Promises”. Unfortunately, rare high points are drowned by the artistic and lyrical vacancy of the likes of “Masterplan”, which makes for an uneven and rather disappointing overall listen.
For what Paintropy is and what it attempts to achieve, it is barely a passable album, drifting in a sea of like-sounding competition. However, coming from a band which I hold some nostalgia for (and have seen that nostalgia slowly growing into some real talent), it is something of a minor travesty. Lacking melody, strong guitar hooks, and the charisma of albums past, Paintropy is an unfortunate stumble, and not an album that I can in good faith recommend to fans of either the bands old work, or even their newer style.
2.25 // 5