Released by: Pitch Black Records
Release Date: February 23, 2015
Genre: Power Metal
Guido Macaione – Vocals
Giuseppe Taormina – Guitars
Niki Zummo – Bass
Diego Galati – Keyboards
Claudio Florio – Drums
1. Black Shelter
2. Last Poetry Line
3. Death Dwells in Sight
4. In Vain
5. The Hills Gaze in Silence
7. The Storm
10. Farewell is Forever (CD Bonus)
Italians bands have been releasing some excellent power metal albums in recent years, including my current favorite album of 2015. Looking to add to the list of great bands from their country is Crimson Wind, a relatively newer band who released their debut The Wings of Salvation in 2011, and are now coming out with their sophomore effort Last Poetry Line. I found The Wings of Salvation to be an enjoyable but very flawed and uneven release, with its few moments of greatness cancelled out by odd experiments and a couple songs that were just plain dull. When I heard they were working on a second album, I got my hopes up that they would release a more consistently engaging album this time around.
The good news is Last Poetry Line definitely is a much more coherent album, and the band is no longer plagued by inconsistencies. Like their debut, this album contains most of the elements one would expect from an Italian power metal album, including a strong use of keyboards, symphonic elements and some big vocal melodies, but there’s also some strong elements of progressive metal on this release, something which was present on The Wings of Salvation, but is even stronger this time around. Most songs feature some heavy riffs during the verses, which tend to slowly build up towards the chorus, where the pace quickens and the melodies come alive. Which is to say, most tracks are largely mid tempo, with quick bursts of speed during the chorus and occasionally during extended instrumental parts. My one complaint about the songwriting is that most songs play it a bit safe during the verses and never pick up until the chorus. Though at least this time around, every song has some good moments.
One particular low point of The Wings of Salvation was its remarkably dull opener “Abyss of Fire”, a song which simply failed to engage me on any level, to the point where every time I heard the song, I’d completely forget everything about it immediately afterwards. The combination of it and the fairly weak follow up “Endless Deja Vu” meant that it was a good 10 minutes or so into that album before I found anything to like. Such is not the case with Last Poetry Line, as the opener “Black Shelter” starts out with a pretty nice guitar riff, features some nice proggy sections during the verses, and quickly launches into an excellent chorus, which kicks the album into high gear. The track also introduces new singer Guido Macaione who has a very pleasant voice and sounds very smooth most of the time, particularly when he uses his lower register. He occasionally sounds like he’s straining a bit when he goes for really high notes, but otherwise he does a very solid job and fits the band quite well.
As far as songwriting goes, the band has made some big improvements. There aren’t any real weak songs on this album so now I think for their third album what the band has to do is find a way to really up their game further, and to come up with some truly outstanding tracks. Most tracks here are solid enough, but it does feel like something’s missing to make them truly special. Everything sounds nice, with the keyboards in particular being very prominent without becoming overly cheesy, while the guitars are quite heavy at points without ever overdoing it.
Songs like “Black Shelter” and “Death Dwells in Sight” mix the slower and faster parts together very fluidly to create some really epic melodies, while other tracks such as the title track, “Still” and the slower, more melodic prog focused track “ In Vain” each have some great individual moments, but fail to keep the momentum for their entire duration (for example, the title track has an awesome main riff and chorus, but everything else about it is simply decent and rather forgettable.) The speedier track “The Storm” is possibly the best track on the album, while the piano driven ballad “The Hills Gaze in Silence” is an excellent showcase for Guido’s vocals. The 8 minute epic “Heirloom” is mostly a fast paced power metal track with light prog elements, up until the last couple minutes where it slows down and ends with a pretty nice softer passage. It’s a nice track overall, with some some great moments, but it falls short of being an instant classic.
My thoughts on that last track sum up my overall feelings toward the album: Solid power metal with occasional highlights and no real bad spots, but it doesn’t quite do enough to stand out among the pack. In short, Last Poetry Line is an album I can easily recommend to fans of the genre, but I don’t see it topping any album of the year lists or anything. I do think Crimson Wind has come a long way since their debut, and they show a lot of promise, so hopefully their third album will be the one where they finally break out and show us everything they’re capable of.
Written by: Travis Green