Sound Storm – Immortalia
Oh Italy, how come you weren’t a metal powerhouse back in 1997 when I was visiting you? Ok, I also wouldn’t have classified myself as a metalhead back in that year, but still…so much fantastic metal is coming out of Italy I can no longer keep track of it all. In a year, I have come across so much great Italian music I can’t count it all on my hands. This is so refreshing after Lacuna Coil seems to have lost its lustre with me. Sound Storm hails from Turin, and I don’t know why I haven’t heard of them before this release, as they have three previous releases (editor’s note: only one studio album in 2009) and have been around for nearly 10 years. Oh, and by the way, this all-male progressive symphonic power metal band really rocks the eyeliner (I dig that).
Anyway, Immortalia, as I said, is my introduction to this band, and what an introduction it is, too. The music kicked my ass. Heavily bombastic and rife with richly textured orchestral sections reminiscent of Epica and Nightwish, Immortalia blasts out fast-paced, pounding riffs, combined with some choir moments and even featuring an operatic soprano, Ilaria Lucille De Santis, in the mix once in a while to add some higher range touches. The lead vocalist for Sound Storm is Philippe D’Orange, and, thank God, for the most part he keeps his vocals clean save for a few growly embellishments here and there and the odd scream. He’s a great, powerful vocalist with what seems to me to be a lot of technique and versatility. When he’s aggressive, he’s really aggressive, and yet he can be very sensitive as well. And it’s so pleasing for me to hear some male-fronted metal in this genre without a lot of overdone growls and grunts.
The intro to the CD, the eponymous “Immortalia”, is a lush operatic piece sung in Latin (I believe), and featuring both Ilaria and Philippe, but the ass-kicking starts halfway through it with a sudden blast of bass, drums, and guitar riffing before it settles into a catchy melody, giving the listener a brief moment to rest before the bombast returns right at the start of track two. “Back to Life” is a bit of a creepy song with some maniacal laughing and a dark theme that seems to speak of someone being raised from the dead (I’m not 100% sure as I don’t have the lyrics). This is where Sound Storm started to remind me a lot of another very darkly themed CD I reviewed here, namely Opera Diabolicus’s +1614, which had a similarly menacing feel and dark themes, not to mention ass-kicking bombast.
There are a lot of standout performances on this CD apart from Philippe’s vocals. I have to mention the keys, played by Davide Cristofoli. There are a lot of brilliant synth passages in here, even the odd solo, and I particularly liked the synth melody in “Watching You Fading”, which had a very dreamy quality about it that at first seemed out of place compared to the other sounds on the album, but in the end, I thought it worked.
Also needing to be mentioned is the guitar work of Valerio Sbriglione. I loved the guitars on this album: very tight, complex, great solos, and many of those “squealy” sounds that make songs even more bad-ass (I’m sure there is a technical term for those “squealy” sounds, but I don’t know it).
Highlight tracks on the album were, for me, the aforementioned “Back to Life”, the eastern-influenced “Seven Veils”, and the aforementioned “Watching You Fading”, which starts off off with that nice key melody, as well as some acoustic work. The soft quality of the song builds gradually into quite an amazing power ballad. In this song, the whole band really shines; this is definitely one of the better ballads I’ve heard in a long time.
The word “epic” is often overused, but in this case, I have no problems at all using that descriptor at all; Immortalia is an epic album from start to finish. Now, I have to go back and listen to Sound Storm”s other releases. The band will be opening for Epica (very appropriate!) at their show in Rimini August 7, and Immortalia will be released throughout Europe on August 28th. This is a great band to add to your progressive symphonic power metal collection.
Allyson’s rating: 4.0 out of 5