Released by: Independent
Release Date: Out Now!!!
Genre: Dark Noir
Luana Caraffa – vocals
Dani Macchi – guitar
Valentina De Iullis – piano
Taya Angelini – bass
Mattia Mari – drums
01.All Is Vanity
04.If I Was God
07.In My Demons’ Name
11.I Set My Controls To Overdrive
Italian quintet Belladonna, now on their fourth album with ‘Shooting Dice With God’, are somewhat of an anomaly in music. With no label support for either albums or tours, they have successfully carved out a career and garnered a firm fan following, culminating in tours with Nine Inch Nails and Staind to name a couple of big hitters on their CV.
From their bio profile, they describe themselves rock noir which, when searching across the internet for that genre, always leads back to them. Nicely done!
Their sound, to those unfamiliar with ‘rock noir’, is in parts Kate Bush, Toyah Wilcox, Shakespeare’s Sister with folky elements added in and on the rockier tracks, a psychedelic feel of Hendrix and Page. An unusual mix most definitely but one that is clearly appealing to a much wider populace these days.
‘All Is Vanity’ opens the album and conjures visions of Woodstock with swirling colours and a very Hendrix like vibe thanks to the wah wah driven guitar work of Danni Macchi. ‘Karma Warrier’ introduces us to Valentina De Iullis on piano and her playing along with Luana Caraffa’s haunting vocals start to provide a sense that this is indeed something a little bit different , a little bit off the beaten track. To hold the listener, the chorus, with an excellent hook, simply forces you onto your feet to bounce around before calm descends again on the next verse.
On ‘Abduction’ the band prove their value in the pop market with a song that could easily chart in many countries as a single. Again the thought of Shakespeare’s Sister playing this comes to mind and it would be good to know if they played a part in influencing Belladonna at all.
“If I was God, if I was light, I would infiltrate your soul and make it shine” sings Launa on the next track , so softly in fact that the words seem to bore into your psyche to remain there forever. A beautiful haunting track lingers like a dream long, long, after the album has finished. It’s easy to see why the lyrics have been used as part of the online promotional campaign for this release.
Wiping a tear away from the eye, a second or so passes before the riff for ‘Ishtar Blues’ kicks in. This will appeal to the rockers out there as it’s got a really strong groove and the combination of guitar, bass and drums drive the track, generating a strong passionate vocal performance from Luana as she cries “give it to me, give it to life..”.
Any self respecting horror movie fan will be able to find songs on the album to fit with their favourite films. Take ‘In My Demons’ Name’ for example. Putting lyrical content aside for the moment, the music starts off very bluesy, with a bit of wah wah pedal reminiscent in style of Jimmy Page, before Valentina De Iullis adds, essentially, the theme from ‘Halloween’ underneath it all. Again the haunting vocals bring to mind dark corners, alleyways with shadowy figures at the end and when Luana moves into the chorus, it’s easy to imagine the hero / heroine of the story running from some hidden presence.
The dark, haunting themes continue through the album but the themes are never threatening, more akin to gothic fairy tales of lovers doomed to never be together or how loves have been lost never to be recovered again. Gloomy content you may think but this is not the case as the style of delivery makes the greatest tragedy a beautiful aural soundscape that draws you in and floats and twists and turns around you.
‘Primal Dream’ uses sound effect samples to once again appeal to the horror movie fan and with lyrics “you are mine forever..” there are many such movies that would be a perfect match. ‘Multiverse Love’ and ‘I Set My Controls to Overdrive’ close out the album, the former sung as if watching her lover being taken away to the gallows, building to a crescendo that would not be out of place on an early Within Temptation release. ‘I Set My Controls…’ again uses the bewitching piano for the intro and undercurrent throughout the song and has a great bombastic finish that bookends the album perfectly.
The album evokes many images and themes, some not considered since bands named above were in their heyday many years ago. It’s an amazing blend and well worth repeated listens.
Written by Adrian