Setanera – Spettralia
As mentioned in my review of Narwhal Tusk’s In Despair, December 2011 was a great month for me in terms of new female fronted metal discovery. Another band I found is called Setanera, and I found them quite flukily on one of those very commonplace but very useful video mixes of so-and-so’s favourite musical whatevers. In this case, it was someone’s list of great but relatively unknown female voices in the metal genre, and Setanera’s vocalist Valentina Bucci was on the list.
On a related side note, Setanera was the fourth female fronted metal band from Italy I discovered in the second half of 2011. That country is seriously pumping out some excellent music so Lacuna Coil had better watch out.
Self-released in 2010, Setanera’s only release so far is an EP entitled Spettralia, and the version I downloaded from iTunes consisted of four tracks, but other versions of the tracklist I’ve seen online have separated the fourth track into two, making the intro to that fourth track, “Journey to the Freedom,” it’s own song. However it’s configured, Spettralia is worthy of a listen for anyone into female fronted Gothic/symphonic power metal.
The opening track, “Black River” is sung primarily in Italian and the chorus is sung in English. It starts out with a melancholy piano intro and leads right into some great head banging stuff within a few seconds. And then Valentina enters with her soprano vocals. She shines very brightly amid the riffing and some minimal growls in the background. The song is a great rollick with double bass, multiple tempo changes, and even some brief forays into the operatic vocal realm halfway through, showing of Valentina’s range. Oh, and there is a very nice guitar solo, followed by some Latin chanting. It’s a great song, and as far as first impressions go, Setanera makes a very strong one.
The second song, the eponymous “Spettralia” is sung entirely in Italian, and once again starts of with a great keyboard intro and moves right into material made for head banging. Apart from the fact that I don’t know what the song is about – the word “spettralia” roughly translates into “everything to do with ghosts”, according to an Italian friend of mine (she also kindly translated “setanera” for me to “black silk”), I really enjoy hearing Italian sung. There is something infinitely cool about how this language sounds put to powerful music. In the case of Dama, who had both an Italian and an English version of their release Eirwen, I actually prefer a couple of the songs they do in Italian to their English counterparts because the lyrics sound so much more emotive and pure when sung in the singers mother tongue.
By far my favourite song on the EP is “Lie.” Sung in English, this is the catchiest song on the release and it has the best guitar solo, too. The lyrics are also pretty good and suitably Gothic. The chorus goes:
Sometimes I see you in the morning light
Everything can change my life, everything is burnt inside
Sometimes I see you across my eyes,
Let me die tomorrow, but you leave me screaming here tonight
And finally, “Journey to the Freedom”, ends the CD with another rollick. Heavy, more atmospheric than the previous three songs, it is slightly rougher around the edges vocally than the other tracks, but it’s still a strong song. The guitars are notable once again, and they’re performed on the CD by Alex Merola, who plays both rhythm and lead. The keyboardist for Setanera should not go unmentioned either; his name is Marco Magistri, and he’s excellent.
I think this is a really promising young band with a lot to offer the genre. Spettralia is quite mature for a debut and the quality of the production is not bad considering it’s a self-release. I’ve certainly heard worse by better-known bands. Setanera has had some good exposure in the Italian market, with some TV appearances and some live festival gigs. They started out in 2004 originally as an Evanescence tribute band, but I can tell you with all honesty, I’m glad they let that go, because Spettralia, despite being short, is way better than Evanescence’s latest effort!
Allyson’s rating: 4.0 out of 5