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Black Fate – Ithaca

Black Fate
Ithaca
by Andrew Graham at 02 November 2020, 12:19 PM

Veteran Greek power metallers BLACK FATE have, on their fourth full-length outing, produced a triumphant ode to the glorious past of Ancient Greece. Based on Homer’s ‘Oddessy’, this album offers a selection of songs in the power metal tradition that would give DRAGONFORCE a run for their money, and certainly make titans in the genre like HELLOWEEN proud. Virtuoso guitars, stomping drums, soaring vocals and orchestral accompaniments are all to be found aplenty!

Everybody’s tastes in music are different. If you talk to a person for long enough, you’ll identify what I might call a ‘centre of gravity’. A central genre/style/artist or cluster thereof, around which their individual tastes are oriented. In my own case this ‘centre of gravity’ is clustered around thrash, death metal, and black metal – which will explain the majority of my recent reviews! I confess, therefore, that power metal is somewhat on the periphery of this cluster. This, perhaps, makes particularly excellent examples in the genre satisfying listening. The discerning reader will likely, by now, have guessed that the topic of today’s review is just such an example!

“From Ashes & Dust” opens the album with orchestral pomp and bluster that would not be out of place in any decent contemporary film score, and a hint of the vocals to come. “Ithaca” hurls at us everything this album has to offer: driving guitars, relentless drums, keyboard themes adding layers to the orchestration, and soaring vocals that demonstrate the very best of this tradition that owes so much to people like Rob Halford and the like. The 7/8 timing also display the progressive elements also on display, being subtle enough that it adds a juicy little bit extra to what is already an excellent performance.

“Maze” follows, continuing the strong presence set by the first two tracks. The melodic virtuosity one would expect of power metal guitar solos is abundant on this track. “Savior Machine” is a very strong track, and a real album highlight. With an intro that NIGHTWISH would kill for, everything about this track simply exudes mastery. “Fortress of Solitude” opens in a similarly epic fashion and does not fail to continue the high standard set by the previous track.

Ominous keyboards, strings and whispers open “Nemesis”, giving way to a stomping riff with epic choral backing. There’s a real nostalgia here: it reminds me of just how long it’s been since I listened to NIGHTWISH’S early material – yes, “Ithaca” is that good! “Secret Place” comes closest to a thrashy track, and boy is it a joy to listen to – the solo is a particularly good one too! “Reach for the Stars” is a bright and optimistic call to follow ones dreams (and, mercifully, not a lame and confused cover of a similarly titled song by a certain British pop group!)

“Rainbow’s End” is a power-ballad, driven by acoustic guitars, bass and strings. We were bound to have one of these sooner or later and, whilst ordinarily these things fil me with an irresistible compulsion to hurl, dammit it’s just so good! “One Last Breath” has a distinctly DREAM THEATER vibe going on, right down to the keyboard solo in the closing section. “Queen of Shadows” is probably the heaviest song on the album, the chugging guitar riffs and fast triplets making this song a little weightier than the others, whilst maintaining the orchestral and choral elements so core to this album. We close with “Circle of Despair”, which sounds for all the world like it should be boss battle music for a Castlevania game! It really feels authentically climactic, even closing with the same words that open the album – just for extra consistency!

All in all, a triumphant offering from these seasoned practitioners of their craft! The production is sleek and satisfying, with all elements well-represented in the mix. This should be mandatory material for anybody remotely invested in the power metal genre, and I certainly feel like my tastes might be a little less hardened after giving this a listen!

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
  1. From Ashes & Dust
  2. Ithaca
  3. Maze
  4. Savior Machine
  5. Fortress of Solitude
  6. Nemesis
  7. Secret Place
  8. Reach for the Stars
  9. Rainbow’s End
  10. One Last Breath
  11. Queen of Shadows
  12. Circle of Despair
Lineup:
Nikos Tsintzilonis – Drums
Vasilis Georgiou – Vocals
Vasilis Liakos – Bass
Gus Drax – Guitars
Themis Koparanidis – Keyboards
Record Label: Rockshots Records
     


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