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Revoltons - Underwater Bells

Underwater Bells
by Rachel Montgomery at 10 February 2020, 9:06 AM

Nearly 30 years of making music and 8 years after the release of the last album, REVOLTONS is back with their fifth full-length studio album. Formed in 1991, this Italian Metal act is picking up where they left off, with their second concept album in a series. The albums are about the Panjont Tragedy, where over 2,500 people died in the band’s hometown. While most of the songs are wonderful, unique compositions, some big blunders leave the album a little wanting.

My favorite part of the album is the progressive, complex middle that weaves a musical and lyrical narrative full of great surprises and unique techniques. In my opinion, the album should have begun with these, and “Slowmotion Apocalypse” should have been the intro. It’s the third track, a 49-second instrumental beginning with slow, soft harmonies that compound on each other like a juggler adding more balls to their act. The higher register and ambiance lead up to an electric-heavy pounding that leads right into the next song, “Mary and the Children”. The rocking guitars with a sweep at the end of the riffs, plus a melody change in the middle, make this song incredible. The vocals are decent here, but I wonder if they could’ve been improved by a duet.

My favorite two songs are “October 9th, 1963” and “Erase New Earth Lord". The band’s softer melodies are a highlight on the album and for the former song, this isn’t an exception. The riff reminds me of an EVANESCENCE song called “So Close”. The song fades into chaos followed by ambient screaming, a great fit thematically. The female vocals are soft and beautiful, and upon hearing them, you’ll wish they were in the first track, too. The latter track is a continuation of the previous one, acting as an answer to the ambient interlude. The vocals on this track for the high tenor are the best. The hymnal melody and choir elements add an uplifting element to the song and both these tracks working together as they do is a progressive, musical treat.

However, the first two tracks, “Danger Silence Control” and “The Stars of the Night Before” weren’t as impressive; while I enjoyed the intro, I don’t like how the guitars were pushed so far back, and the progressive elements here are less impressive than they are in the middle of the album. The vocals are clear but sound a little wobbly through the verses. The instrumentals on the second track are beautifully intricate, especially the way the melody aligns with the interspersed drum rolls. The tempo change in the middle is a nice, progressive touch that adds interest to the song, and the guitar solo is engaging, unique, and powerful. However, due to the more nasally vocals, I wish they either used a guest singer or left this track an instrumental. These two tracks also belie the strengths and weaknesses of the band: when they’re progressive, they’re amazingly innovative and hypnotizing. When they try to be a straightforward rock band with simple riffs and melodies, they’re not as strong. Personally, I think they should have scrapped the first two songs or put them deeper into the album either as instrumentals or with their female singer. “Criminal Organism” is another offender, where after a long, progressive intro, the vocals appear to need work. The instrumentals in that song have an engaging variety of pace, rocketing from a soft melody to an intense main line, a much-needed buffer between the last, very heavy song and this one.

The album has two closing numbers, a ten-minute number “Grandmasters Of Death” and an instrumental outro, “Through The Years”. The former acts like an operatic duet, with a baritone voice playing off the tenor. While these are solid songs, I wish the former has more progressive elements. However, I enjoyed how “Grandmasters Of Death” slowly decreased tempo in the last three minutes to lead into “Through the Years”.

Overall, the band shines when it’s progressive. However, the more traditional melodic metal songs don’t work and sound grating, leaving listeners with songs they can skip. If these were in the middle of the album, it would be one thing, but at the beginning of the album is the last place you want your less-than-stellar numbers. If the songs featured some of their guest singers or were instrumentals, they could have been better tracks. Other than the first two tracks, it’s a great album with compelling and complex elements.

Songwriting: 8
Production: 9
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Danger Silence Control
2. The Stars Of The Night Before
3. Slowmotion Apocalypse
4. Mary And The Children
5. October 9th, 1963
6. Erase New Earth Lord
7. Hypnos And Thanatos
8. Primal Shock
9. The Powerless Wrath
10. Criminal Organism
11. Grandmasters Of Death
12. Through The Years
Andras Csaszar - Vocals
Alex Corona - Guitars
Matt Corona - Guitars
Roberto Sarcina - Bass
Elvis Ortolan - Drums
Record Label: Sleazy Rider Records


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