Released By: Pride & Joy Music
Release Date: February 24th, 2017
Genre: Melodic Progressive Metal
Alessandro Granato – Vocals
Luca Sellitto – Guitars
Mario “Uryo” Urciuoli – Bass
Andrea Barone – Keyboards
- Holding On
- Must Be Blind
- One in a Million
- Undergo (Black Moon Pt.2)
- Love Was Never Meant to Be
- System of Power
- Portrait of Beauty
Italy is known for having some excellent power and progressive metal bands, but for every big name band from that country, there are several other bands who consistently make quality albums that tend to go largely under the radar. One such band is Stamina, led by guitarist Luca Sellitto. They have released three albums to date, with their previous album Perseverance being my introduction to them, and it was quite the stellar release. Now they’re back with their fourth release System of Power, with a slightly revamped lineup as well as a slightly different sound than what I remember from Perseverance, but if anything I’d say this new album is even better.
With Perseverance, I remember having a difficult time trying to nail down an overall genre for the music as I was hearing traces of power metal, hard rock, heavy metal and even some AOR to go along with the supposed main sound of melodic prog. With System of Power, though, that isn’t so much the case, as most of the lighter hard rock elements have been removed, in favor of a more predominantly melodic progressive metal sound, mixed in with quite a bit of power metal and the occasional symphonic elements. On the whole, this is a much heavier, more guitar-driven release and it’s definitely a more clearly metal album than its predecessor, though it’s still a very melodic album overall, and the new singer is given a ton of space to work with. There’s some very impressive instrumental work on this album and the musicianship is very technical at times, much more so than I remember from the previous release, with Luca especially shining during some epic solos, though keyboardist Andrea Barone does some pretty impressive work as well, and there are still many sections where the keyboards dominate. It’s a very well balanced and great sounding album overall, with a nice mix between faster tracks with power metal elements, and slower, more progressive tracks.
The area where the band has changed most, though, is the vocals. On Perseverance, there was no lead singer, as the band instead used various guests for all the vocals. In between albums, they recruited vocalist Alessandro Granato, who does all the lead vocals on this release, and he does one hell of a job, for sure. He sings with a very deep and aggressive voice at times and he can also be very animated at times, occasionally using some higher pitched vocals that especially work great on the speedier tracks. In fact, on the whole, I find his vocals work great for power metal and so he does an especially great job on the tracks that focus more on that side of their music, although he sounds very good all around.
Opening track “Holding On” immediately feels like a change to more of a prog sound, as it begins with some excellent keyboards before the guitars eventually kick in and the pace picks up, turning into a more power metal oriented track. This is a fairly heavy, fast paced track with some great instrumental work all around, especially from Andrea, and it also does a great job of introducing Alessandro, as he sounds excellent throughout and especially during the chorus. I mentioned previously that he excels on faster songs, and my favorite of these is definitely “Love Was Never Meant to Be.” The track begins with a rather lengthy intro where the keyboards dominate and help give the track a very playful, sort of theatrical mood right from the start, and the verses are a lot of fun and do a nice job of alternating between fast and mid-paced, but it’s the super speedy chorus that stands as the clear highlight, and it’s there where Alessandro delivers his best vocals on the entire album.
Other great faster tracks include “One in a Million” and “Why”. The former begins with a nice orchestral opening, before turning into one of the heavier tracks on the album. The guitars feel a bit chunkier than usual on this track and add an extra dose of heaviness to the verses, while the chorus is more melodic and fun as usual. “Why” also begins with an extended symphonic intro, though on this track those elements are rather prevalent throughout, which gives the music more of an epic feeling throughout, and the chorus is once again outstanding.
On the slower side, the title track and closer “Portrait of Beauty” are two very solid mid-paced tracks, where the prog elements are more dominant. Both tracks do a nice job of switching between guitar parts and keyboard parts, with both musicians doing an excellent job and they both deliver some great solos. Those tracks are both very good, but I find they pale in comparison to “Must be Blind”, probably the most progressive track the on the album, and certainly the track with the best instrumental work. Right from the start, the guitars sound just a bit heavier and more complex than usual, and that little keyboard flourish at the end of the main riff is a nice touch. The track also has a fun, fast paced chorus, but it’s the instrumental section in the second half where the track really picks up as the musicians go all out and the result is quite stunning. Lastly, “Undergo” (Black Moon Pt.2)” is a very nice ballad, though it’s also the one track where Andrea’s keyboards feel the least prominent. It begins with a nice acoustic guitar section before Luca adds a really nice melodic section with the electric guitar, and then throughout it’s mostly a vocal driven track that serves as a great showcase for Alessandro, and then in the second half, Luca gives himself plenty of space to deliver a nice solo section.
Overall, System of Power is an excellent album that will hopefully bring more attention to Stamina, as it’s a great blend of melodic progressive metal and power metal, with some excellent musicianship, great vocals, and consistently strong songwriting. More importantly, it represents a slight step up from the band’s already very good previous release, and now with a new lineup I’m hoping for more great things from the band is the future. Highly recommended for power metal fans and prog fans who prefer the more melodic side of the genre.
Reviewer: Travis Green