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Karpenter – Sleepless

by Andrew Graham at 14 July 2021, 8:30 PM

In an ever-expanding landscape of metal and its many, many sub-genres it’s nice to see someone occasionally look backwards to the influences that got them where they are. With Italy’s KARPENTER we have not only a lyrical landscape inspired by loved horror director John Carpenter, but also a nod to so many of the influences that made the modern metal scene what it is. With particularly notable influences coming from IRON MAIDEN and IN FLAMES, this album has a lot to love!

The clearest musical constant is that of melody. If you think of IN FLAMES during the era of Come Clarity and A Sense of Purpose and you’re in the right mood. It’s heavy without being completely relentless, underlined with keyboard chords that add to the richness of the proceedings – this being most clearly demonstrated on tracks such as “Perfection Valley” and “The Manor”. The keyboard usage here doesn’t quite extend to the level of power metal, but nicely accents the chords being played on guitar to great emotive effect. It’s busy music with lots going on – drums, bass, keyboard, paired guitars as well as multiple layers of vocals. This comes close to being a little crowded but manages to retain structure, to the delight of the listener.

The variety doesn’t stop here. “The Hardest Party” features an acoustic bridge that flirts with genuine beauty. And “The Swamp Thing”, asides from conjuring up the most delightful images of 50’s black and white horror movies, has more than a passing resemblance to IRON MAIDEN about it! Though the band’s name suggest a fixation with John Carpenter (which one can well observe in a number of places throughout the album, notably in the intro track “Sleepless”), the horror references come hard and fast. Indeed, the astute listener can well make a game out of ‘spotting the references’. From Jaws to Psycho (in “Shark” and “No Vacancy” respectively), it’s all here!

The recording and mixing is deeply satisfying. Those many layers I mention above are levelled to perfectly complement one another. Nobody is drowned out and each ‘voice’ can be heard independently of the others if so desired. In particularly crowded tracks such as “The Manor” and “The Swamp Thing” this is most clearly in evidence. The vocal style falls somewhat short of a full-blown death growl one would expect on a conventional melodic death metal release (indeed it’s a slightly difficult one to place as it weaves between influences so expertly), but is far enough down that side of the spectrum that a certain degree of ‘heaviness’ can be found.

Suffice to say, this is great! The album is enormous fun and reads like a love letter to the band’s top influences, but it’s done so well that it seems less like mere imitation than more sincere flattery and tribute. Did I mention this is the band’s debut album? Could have fooled me! These gents will be doing very nicely for themselves if they can continue to make music of this quality! To you I say, congratulation!

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

4 Star Rating

1. Sleepless
2. Mechanical Sense
3. Perfection Valley
4. Falconer
5. Shark
6. The Manor
7. The Hardest Party
8. The Swamp Thing
9. No Vacancy
10. Dark Mountain Side
Filippo Tellerini – Vocals
Federico Conti – Guitars
Manuel Nucci – Guitars
Francesco Vicini – Bass
Michele Mingozzi – Keyboards, programming
Marco Biondi – Drums
Record Label: Rockshots Records


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