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Tommy Vitaly - Indivisible Award winner

Tommy Vitaly
Indivisible
by Daniel Stefanov at 31 May 2017, 7:48 AM

I grew envious of people who can still listen to symphonic, neoclassical or progressive metal. While I personally passed this stage a while ago, I vividly remember the year in which NIGHTWISH and AVANTASIA were the be-all end-all of my music taste. But I will not try to sell you the familiar bullshit story of how I "grew up", and began listening to thrash and black, because melodic metal was too "childish" or too "soft" for me. People don't stop listening to good music because they grow and pass onto something "better". They do it because the world makes them sad and angry with age, and in the rage of daily struggle, they lose the sensitivity to detail, and the patience required to appreciate it. And a SODOM song can much more easily find its way into that state of mind, than the tranquil, intricate and incantatory work of art, hereby under review.

Tommaso Vitali was not a musician that I was familiar with prior to being tasked with this review. I can say that I am closely familiar with the type: Luca Turilli, Axel Rudi Pell, Arjen Lucassen, Yngwie Malmsteen. Bearing the name of a famous 17th century classical composer, and hailing from roughly the same region in Italy, Tommaso Vitali does not disappoint, as he is a virtuoso with the guitar, up to the talent of the aforementioned legends, if not exceeding, and his compositions should really be reviewed by a more knowledgeable connoisseur of the fine arts than myself, as I can hardly do them justice. Now all those introductory words and disclaimers aside, let's dive into the album. The cover art is an underwhelming image of an "angel of death"-like figure with wing ornaments, over a cracked abstract black background. Something we could expect from an entry-level band, afraid to step too far from the approved metal tropes, not to scare the potential impulse buyers away. At first glance nothing in the image remotely resembles the essence of the music, or could be associated with the otherwise memorable and strong title.

The disc opens on the title song, "Indivisible", which eases the listener into the album with a generic intro, making a sharp turn into brave originality about 45 seconds in. The song definitely grabs the attention and raises the expectations for the rest of the album. Very prominent guitars and vocals carry the song, however often overshadowing the very pleasant drumming. Carsten Schulz does a lovely job carrying the vocal duties, however at some points feels a bit stretched during the verses. The backing vocals on the track add great depth, and combined with the tempo of the drums, constitute to creating the perfect opener for the album. "The Lodge" opens with an organ, immediately raising very pleasant associations with one of my favorite songs - HAMMERFALL's "Between Two Worlds". However, that's where the similarities end, as "The Lodge" is not a soft and melancholic ballad, but a pounding metal epic with great heavy guitars and exceptionally pleasant vocals by Apollo Papathanasio, whose style of singing immediately transported me back to 1975, when Ronnie Dio left his mark on the legendary titular album for RAINBOW. And though nobody can come close to Dio's extraterrestrial vocal capabilities, I can never not like something that so much reminds me of him.

"Duel" is an instrumental, and I really have nothing to say about it. Yes, it's technically impressive and I suppose compositionally worthy of note, however since I lack the musical education to appreciate either of those two aspects, I have to judge it as a simple listener, and to that ear it feels more like a "look what I can do" than an actual "I have something important to share and I'll do it in musical form", which instrumentals should be, in order to grab my attention. And I may ruffle a few feathers, but for an instrumental that gets my passing grade, look no further than MANOWAR's "Today is a Good Day to Die""Macabradanza" immediately fixes the bad taste I was left with after "Duel", and yet again I am impressed. The song is a chemical perfection of so many distinct elements, that Tommy masterfully juggles with and manages to mix in an amazing melody and strong presence, further enhanced by the brilliant vocals of Roberto Tiranti and Chiara Manese. An amazing and memorable song with operatic elements and beautifully complementing voices. "Forever Lost" is slow and beautiful acoustic ballad. Can't really review a ballad, it's a song of the soul more than any other - every person has his own frequency of resonance, to which a ballad either adheres, or does not. To me personally, "Forever Lost" is brilliant and emotional, although some others may consider it nothing special, or even boring. Perfect vocals by Henrik Brockmann.

"Wings of Doom" is a typical fast power metal song, also heavily dominated by guitars. Very pleasant to listen to, if not too original, and again raising strong associations, this time to the style of early RHAPSODY OF FIRE"Coraline" is a uniquely beautiful song, seemingly inspired by "Phantom of the Opera", among others. The song is rich and complex, moody like an AVANTASIA track, brilliantly performed by Jan Manenti, eerie, emotional and soaring - a true masterpiece in my eyes, and the second song on this album after "Macabradanza" that any band would be proud to have. "La Bestia" is another instrumental, this time slower and more atmospheric at start, and more rhythmic and energetic later on, definitely giving off more pleasant vibes than "Duel""Sinner" is a fast and hard power metal track, bearing the familiar voice of Fabio Lione. As a fan of RHAPSODY, I was looking forward to Fabio's song, and was left a bit underwhelmed by the fact that he was given the only simplistic typical hard song on the album. It is a decent, energetic and powerful song, however I believe Fabio should have switched places with Carsten for "Indivisible", where his abilities would shine instead of being limited by "Sinner". Speaking of Carsten, he is back to finish what he started with the final track on the album - "Joan of Arc" - an anthem for our favorite badass lady of history. Again a very pleasant song, with just the right proportions of fast, epic, hard, and melodic. The back vocals reminded me of 90's ICED EARTH, while the very beginning bought me to another favorite song of mine - WASP's "Widowmaker". After an emotional mid-section, the song is very rhythmic and captivating and I can't help instinctively headbanging to it, which, after all, is the idea behind every metal album, right?

"Indivisible" definitely brought TOMMY VITALY on my radar. It is a very rich, very solid and complete release, that beams with inspiration, energy, complexity and emotion. "Indivisible", "Macabradanza" and "Coraline" are the high points of the album, and by high I mean truly soaring high - they far surpass the quality of material I have come to expect from some previously legendary bands. The album plays around familiar neoclassical and symphonic power metal, and develops a new meaning, utilizing the talents of a small army of guest vocalists, each performing admirably. This album makes me wish I could listen to music like that for days on end, like I used to in the old times. Alas, a new dawn rises and I feel compelled to blast OVERKILL. But "Indivisible" is an album I will be getting back to, and you should too.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 7
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Indivisible
2. The Lodge
3. Duel (instrumental)
4. Macabradanza
5. Forever Lost (acoustic)
6. Wings of Doom
7. Coraline
8. La Bestia (instrumental)
9. Sinner
10. Joan of Arc
Lineup:
Andrea Torricini - Bass
Tommaso Vitali - Guitars, Keyboards
Alessandro Bissa - Drums
Carsten "Lizard" Schulz, Apollo Papathanasio, Gabriels, Roberto Tiranti, Chiara Manese, Henrik Brockmann, Alessio Gori, Jan Manenti, Fabio Lione - Vocals
Record Label: SG Records
     


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