Tezza F. – The Message (…A Story Of Agony, Hope, And Faith…)
Reviewed By Kevin Hathaway
Wow, what a mouthful of a title. Let’s just call it The Message from now on, okay? Okay. The title isn’t the only thing that’s long-winded about this, though. With 8 actual songs, including an 18-minute title track, on top of two interludes, an intro, and an outro totaling near 70 minutes, The Message is a bit daunting. But I think this was one of the more overlooked power metal albums of 2013. I included it on my personal Top 20 albums of 2013 (near the bottom, but still) and when Black Wind’s power metal guru Dan himself told me he hadn’t even heard of it once he saw my list, I felt obligated to tell the world about this overlooked gem in review form.
Tezza F is the one-man solo career of the vocalist/guitarist of Italy’s Soul Guardian, a band I am as yet still unfamiliar with, but would be more than willing to give a shot after this album. Here, Fillipo Tezza is in control of everything, and he does an admirable job at maintaining one’s interest for well over an hour all by himself. The production is a bit rough at times, but Tezza shows above average songwriting skills to make up for it. The shorter numbers such as “Dawn Of A New Day” and “Outside” are appropriately direct, punchy, and catchy. Tezza’s vocals could use a little refinement, but there’s a charm in his heavily-accented voice that I like for some reason that I can’t put my finger on. Even his death growls are surprisingly good. They aren’t the best I’ve ever heard, but better than many other attempts at death growls I’ve heard in power metal, at least (cough, “Metallic Tragedy,” cough). They’re deep and guttural but easily decipherable, kind of like Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt.
The riffs are a lot more heavily distorted than most power metal bands (and I mean a lot), but the guitars can still be melodic when they want to, like in the final chorus of “Dawn Of A New Day.” While most of the songs are in the 7-minute range or longer, they rarely feel padded out or overlong, with the exception of the 18-minute title track, which I still struggle to listen to without zoning out at least once or twice. Tezza proves right off the bat that he can write 5-minute anthems like “Dawn Of A New Day,” “Outside,” and “Wings Of A Tragedy” with ease, but it’s when he delves into the longer tracks that his potential starts to shine through. Let’s take for a totally random example, “Whisper Symphony.” *
*Disclaimer: Example may or may not be totally random and if this were an audio review, there would probably be fangirlish squealing at this point.
“Whisper Symphony” was one of my favorite songs from last year. I love it so much that I personally uploaded the song to Youtube just so I could embed it at the bottom of this review. It grabs you right away with the somber violin that repeats itself in the chorus as the crushing guitars back it up. Then Tezza chronicles a young man on the brink of death, shot by an arrow (and along the way, unleashes the most passionate utterance of the f-bomb I have ever heard in power metal). There’s just so much great stuff that happens in this song, from the fantastic mid-paced first half of the second guitar solo to the wailing guitars right before the lyrics kick in, that it truly has to be experienced. “Whisper Symphony” is far and away the best song on The Message. Not that the other tunes are slouches, but “Whisper Symphony” has that extra something that propels The Message to must-hear status.
As much as I would like to score this album even higher, I know a lot of people probably won’t find the charm that I do in Tezza’s voice. However, I strongly urge people to give The Message an honest shot. It’s a bit rough around the edges at times, but the potential is strong and it’s clear that Tezza puts his all into his music. At his best, he can churn out an amazing tune like “Whisper Symphony”, but a majority of the material here is at the very least really solid Italian power metal.
3.75 // 5