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Metal De Facto – Imperium Romanum Award winner

Metal De Facto
Imperium Romanum
by Rachel Montgomery at 11 December 2019, 8:12 PM

METAL DE FACTO is the project of bassist from ENSIFERIA, Sami Hinkka. Bringing his Power Metal experience and a new lineup, he introduces a unique, innovative concept album to the scene. While the subject matter isn’t necessarily new, the implementation of musical tricks, harmonies, juxtapositions and interesting instrumentation makes it all work.

Opening with “The Conqueror,” this album holds nothing back. The song starts with an intense, battling riff. The vocals are clear, operatic and can hold their own through any of these songs. The interspersed speeding drum techniques we’re introduced to are one of this album’s qualities. My one concern is that the guitars sounded too artificial in the solo, despite the wonderful music techniques, but other than that, it was a fine opener, setting up the album for songs that hit hard and have warlike and anthemic music, but aren’t too chaotic or sloppy.

Nautilus Historium” features great, soaring melodies with climbing riffs and harmonic choruses that keep the song engaging throughout. While “Inferno” has a videogame-sounding opening, the decrease in tempo in the first verse sets an ominous tone for the song, interspersing it with fast choruses and guitar lines. The songs are chock-full of interesting techniques, including unique licks in the solo accompanied with sweeps and scales that create unique note-phrasing.

The only instrumental on the album, “Coliseum,” begins and ends with a bookend narrative showcasing the song as a gladiator match. It features dueling instruments, including some really nice licks from the bass. The harpsichord in here is a notable juxtaposition which feels out of place; it’s better utilized in another song on this album, “Bacchanalia.”

Bacchanalia” deserves its own paragraph. The intro itself combines a carnival motif riff with, of all things, a harpsichord, before climbing down into a guttural riff during the verse. Musically, the song communicates the profane in a way that surpasses the lyrics. The bombastic, opera-sounding choir reminds me of a neoclassical farce, and it’s something I didn’t expect to ever see in this genre. It’s brilliant, it’s an intellectual nod for people “in the know,” who can connect neoclassical music with Rome, and I love it for that.

There are no bad songs on this album. Even the less unique songs are solid and well-composed. Prominent techniques used throughout the album are epic choir elements, tempo speed-ups and speed-downs through the same song, and fast songs that maintained their own character while lending themselves to the theme of the album. The second song, “Legionnaire’s Oath,” is more anthemic and structured than the first, and the third track incorporates less militancy, more speed, and incorporates lyrics that set a scene.

There were songs I wish had some more uniqueness. The slow song, “Echoes in Eternity” is composed well, but doesn’t have the individuality of the last few tracks; the only thing that sets it apart on this album is the tempo. Sure, there’s a flute, but apart from a pretty melody, I can’t pick out any avant-garde techniques that could compete with the motifs of the last song. The narrative and the harmonies are well-used, but I was hoping for a stronger sendoff.

Overall, though, I highly recommend it, especially for people who are fans of thematic music and musical technique in general. Every part of the band was top-notch, from the drums through to the clearly well-trained vocalist. It’s an incredible ride and I look forward to future releases from this band.

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

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Conqueror
2. Legionnaire’s Oath
3. Nautilus Historium
4. Inferno
5. Bacchanalia
6. Echoes in Eternity
7. Coliseum
8. Ides of March
9. Ascending of Jupiter
10. Germanicus
Lineup:
Mikael Salo – Vocals
Esa Orjatsalo – Guitars
Mikko Salovaara – Guitars
Sami Hinkka – Bass
Benji Connelly – Keyboards
Atte Marttinen – Drums
Record Label: Rockshots Records
     


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