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Shardana – Milli Annos

Shardana
Milli Annos
by Ian Yeara at 11 January 2021, 6:54 PM

Alright, so big disclaimer right up front, I am not a fan of Thrash Metal. Sure there’s some Thrash bands I like more than others, but that’s usually because they dip into other genres that I prefer. I would say about 80-90% of my issue with the genre, depending on the band is due to the vocals. It’s this weird grey area between clean and harsh vox and it comes out sounding like watered down Death Metal vocals and whoa boy do we have a pretty classic case of lame Thrash vocals on this album.

SHARDANA is an “epic” Thrash Metal band from Sardinia, Italy returning with their second album, and their first release since 2014. I went back and checked out their debut album for this review and this is definitely a significant improvement sound wise over that one. The production and mix are on a professional level, the guitar sounds full and gritty, the kick drum and snare sound really good and the bass is dummy thick and quite audible, so all of these things are big positives.

This is a fun example of an album that I started off, really not vibing with. I’m not afraid to say upfront, about 90% of my issues with this album relate to the vocals, there are even moments where the vocals are a strength, Aaron Tolu shows at least that he has some range as a vocalist as he occasionally uses some cleaner vocals and sometimes he uses more guttural Death Metal growls which worked for me. It’s enough to frustrate me as well because I know he is capable of better than what he does throughout most of the album, but maybe it hurts him to more properly use harsh vox and/or sing normally; instead he’s just shout/growling? Like how do I even analyze that? I don’t know what to call it and it’s enough to sometimes make me want to stop listening. So I’ve talked about the vocals enough, I don’t personally like them, but if you’re a more traditional Thrash fan, then I’m sure they won’t bother you. I’m going to focus on the musicianship and the songwriting because that is where this album shines.

Daniele Manca and Lorenzo Deiv Mariani are both excellent guitar players and they really play their hearts out, but there’s something I don’t quite understand. The guitars sound more like Blackened Death Metal than Thrash, in fact the vocals are the only thing about this music that sounds much like Thrash to me. I don’t like Thrash much and therefore don’t know the genre as well as most others, I think this would have been so much better (for me at least) if they had just committed to the Blackened Death Metal sound, instead of forcing themselves into the Thrash Metal niche.

Songs like "Echoes", "S'arruina De Is Deus", "Josto" and "Inghitzu" almost dip into Progressive Death Metal territory with extended forms and a surprising amount of transitions. At their best they don’t pick one riff and just repeat it over and over again, the songs have ebb and flow to them and are reasonably well paced. I really enjoy the softer moments of the music and their ability to smoothly transition back into Death Metal riffs does not go unnoticed. The guitar solos are great, and really any moment without the vocals is fine. It’s a good sign that I don’t really dislike any of the songs in full. Every song has moments where I’m ready to skip ahead, but they also all have some moments that kick ass, so make of that what you will.

This is all personal taste, to Aaron Tolu, I mean no disrespect sir, I’m sure some people appreciate your vocal style, it’s just not for me. I’m not even going to try and say he’s a bad vocalist because he had moments where I actually liked his voice, just stop doing the shouty thing okay? Just stick to Death Metal man, you’d be really good at it. What most impressed me was the variety in sounds heard throughout, the contrast between the heavier and softer sections and instrumentally these guys are incredibly talented. I really don’t have much else to say, this is a solid album, and if you can get past the vocals I think there’s a lot to like on this.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Echoes
2. Bastard Blood
3. A World With No Gods
4. S’Arruina De Is Deus
5. Tanit
6. Bellum Sardum
7. Josto
8. Reus Pater
9. Inghitzu
Lineup:
Daniele Manca – Guitars (classical), Guitars (lead), Guitars (rhythm), Vocals (backing)
Aaron Tolu – Vocals (lead)
Michele Sanna – Drums
Lorenzo Deiv Mariani – Guitars
Luca Littera – Bass
Record Label: Rafchild Records
     


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