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Bellathrix - No Fear Award winner

Bellathrix
No Fear
by Kira Schlechter at 13 January 2020, 4:10 AM

In keeping with the current, apparently worldwide, renaissance of American classic rock comes BELLATHRIX, and does Genoa, Italy, have something on which to hang their hat in that resurgence. Formed in 2015, their first release was “Orion,” and their latest, “No Fear,” is a real eye-opener. They have not only mastered the hallmarks of the style, they’ve made it their own.

“Leave It All Behind” introduces us to the band’s very straight-ahead hard rock vibe and the revelation that is Stefania Prian’s voice. Nice and screamy, dark and gritty and gravely and rich, full of a great low end and an aching cry, sexy without being affected or fake, hers is an old-school ‘70's set of pipes a la JOPLIN or BENETAR or even early HEART.

The band kind of isolates her voice and puts it way up in the mix, which gives everything a unique sound, and they are laid-back and tight as hell behind her, favoring brief and effective guitar solos by Manuela and Francesco (their easy funky strumming on “Fast and Slow” is a also a real standout), Steve’s melodic bass, and Tiziana’s anything-but-basic drumming (her canny stickwork on what’s either the rims or high cymbal on “Live Your Today” is especially notable).

The faster pace of the title track showcases Stefania’s sarcastic snarl (“do you believe that when we die we rest in peace?,” she sneers), and her descant on the last chorus is killer. It obviously advocates living for the moment – “forget the past, ‘cause life is fast, my dear,” she points out. There’s more terrific drumming on “The Demon,” especially on snare, and Stefania’s voice just shreds in this commentary on battling inner negativity. There’s some uncredited death metal growls too – obviously the “demon” talking – and the two voices are a fantastic combination.

The instrumental “Hanuman,” always a risky move, is well worth it, a little dirty with a meaty, singable melody and a memorable money riff. It’s clever enough to keep your interest and doesn’t wander. “Watcha Waiting For?” starts right off with Stefania’s defiant growl on the chorus – subsequent choruses add vocal harmony, a sophisticated touch. She is such a badass, and the band is exactly her equal, smart, accurate, soulful, full of muscle and bite.

“35 Years” is a prime example of how BELLATHRIX lets their singer’s voice shine without it being obnoxious. As in “Leave It All Behind,” the parts that feature just her and the bass and drums are brief but brilliant. Any small criticism of the mix would just be to make it a bit louder overall, but it’s sound nonetheless. They wrap with an energetic cover of GLENN HUGHES’ “Pickin’ Up the Pieces,” and what a great, appropriate choice it is. Stefania kills it like it was written for her, as do the rest of them – her shriek before the last chorus alone is worth the price of admission. It’s just perfectly done.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Leave It All Behind
2. No Fear
3. The Demon
4. Fast and Slow
5. Hanuman
6. Watcha Waiting For?
7. 35 Years
8. Live Your Today
9. Pickin’ Up the Pieces
Lineup:
Stefania Prian - Vocals
Manuela “Lally” Cretella - Guitar
Francesco “Yackson” Russo - Guitar
Steve Vawamas - Bass
Tiziana “Titty” Cotella - Drums
Record Label: Nadir Music
     


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