Released By: Frontiers Music s.r.l.
Release Date: January 26th, 2018
Genre: Power Metal
Fabio Lione – Vocals
Alessandro Conti – Vocals
Simone Mularoni – Guitars, Bass
Filippo Martignano – Keyboards
Marco Lanciotti – Drums
3. You’re Falling
4. Somebody Else
6. Destruction Show
In 2005, multi-instrumentalist Magnus Karlsson worked with elite vocalists Russell Allen and Jorn Lande to create a special collaborative album, titled The Battle. I’m guessing at the time people weren’t expecting it to be as big a hit as it was, but needless to say, it was so well received, it not only got a follow up two years later but to date, the two singers have released four albums together. More importantly, label Frontiers Music realized it was on to something, and so since that release, there have been other attempts at collaborative releases by the label, with the latest of these being Lione/Conti, due this coming week. I tend to not be the biggest fan of this kind of album, as I generally find the songwriting to be unimaginative and predictable, but this album is one exception to the rule, as I find it to be quite the enjoyable vocal driven power metal album, with some surprisingly strong instrumental work and songwriting at times.
Obviously, fans of both singers should notice the main connection between the two fairly easily, but for those unaware, a bit of background information is in order. Basically, Fabio Lione was the original vocalist of Italian symphonic power metal band Rhapsody/Rhapsody of Fire. After the release of their 2011 album From Chaos to Eternity, guitarist and main songwriter Luca Turilli left the band to form his version called Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody. The vocalist he ended up recruiting for his band was, of course, Alessandro Conti, and the rest is history. While those two are the clear stars of the album, one other very important member of this group is DGM guitarist Simone Mularoni, who was chosen to be the songwriter and producer for the album.
Simone is a very interesting choice for this kind of project, as he has a pretty aggressive style to his playing, and his band is much more progressive than most bands on his label, which made me wonder whether he’d be allowed to properly showcase his talents with this project, or if he’d be shoved into the background and forced to write some cliché and boring melodic metal tracks, where only Fabio and Alessandro could shine. Thankfully, the result is much better than I would have expected, as while many of the songs are vocal driven, as one would expect from this kind of album, there are quite a few speedy power metal tracks on this album where Simone gets to show off some of his heavy riffs, and the majority of the tracks have some excellent guitar solos from him. Obviously, the songwriting is more straight-forward than what he normally does, but there are a couple of nice surprises on the album, and I’d definitely say this release is a cut above most collaborative efforts of this nature when it comes to the musicianship and songwriting. Production is top, notch as fans would expect from Simone, and everything sounds perfectly crisp and clear.
The most important aspect of this album is obviously the vocals, I mean, the two singers’ names are used as the title, after all. Thankfully, both singers are in top form, with both of them being given plenty of great material to work with, and neither of them either fades in the background nor steals the show from the other. Fabio Lione needs no introduction at this point, as his voice should be familiar to just about any power metal fan, and he sounds as smooth as ever on this album, mostly staying in mid-range throughout the songs and he definitely has some huge moments, as always. Alessandro Conti generally sings in a higher register and his voice is a bit softer during some of the slower tracks, but on the more power metal driven songs he sounds very powerful and is at times a bit animated, very much reminding me of the great Michael Kiske.
I usually struggle a bit with the songwriting on this kind of album, but thankfully every song on Lione/Conti is enjoyable in its own way, with a few in particular clearly standing above the rest. Opening track “Ascension” was chosen as the lead single and I can see why, as it’s speedier, light and very catchy power metal track that has a fast-paced chorus as well as a great solo from Simone, while also giving both singers some excellent vocal melodies to work with, which they take full advantage of. It’s a very fun and catchy track, which gets the album off to a great start. The other single released so far is “You’re Falling”, which does a nice job of showing the softer side of the album. It’s a fairly slow paced and very light track which is mostly driven by keyboards and slight symphonic elements, as well as having another excellent chorus. It feels more like the kind of melodic metal one would expect from this kind of project, but again the guitar work is very nice, with the solo, in particular, being excellent, and both singers sound great, so it ends up being an enjoyable track, if not one of my personal favorites.
On the speedier side of things, power metal fans have quite a bit to look forward to on this album. After the great opener comes to the even faster paced “Outcome”, a heavier track where the main riff very much feels like it could have been taken from a DGM track, while keys are used nicely for extra flavor, and it’s a very speedy track with a ton of energy, where both singers excel as usual, and Simone in particular stands out, delivering some of his heaviest riffs on the album, as well as another great melodic solo. Another speedy track is “Misbeliever”, my personal favorite on the album. It’s a blazing fast track with slight symphonic elements, and again it has some excellent driving guitar work, powerful vocals from both singers and an excellent chorus, which feels like a classic Kamelot song in the best way possible. The guitar solo here is very beautiful and easily the best on the album, and overall it’s simply a stunning track from start to finish. Right after that is the slightly lighter but still fast-paced “Destruction Show”, a more melodic and catchy power metal track with another strong chorus and some excellent melodic guitar work. Two more speedy tracks are “Glories” and “Gravity”, both of which are heavy, high energy tracks with great guitar work, great choruses and some excellent melodies, with both songs having heavier sections that feel like they came straight out of a DGM track.
On the softer side, melodic metal fans have quite a bit to enjoy on this release as well. Right after “You’re Falling” comes “Somebody Else”, an excellent ballad which starts off as a piano ballad with some very soft vocals, before building up intensity as it goes along and allowing both singers to go all out, delivering some of their most powerful vocals on the album during the chorus, while Simone once again delivers an excellent guitar solo in the second half. It’s the kind of track I’d normally greet with a yawn on this kind of album, but here it’s pulled off to near perfection and is one of the best tracks on the album. Later in the album, we get “Truth”, a more mid-paced track which is fairly calm and melodic throughout, though there’s still some great guitar work at points, and it’s another solid track with an excellent chorus. Lastly, we have the closing track “Crosswinds”, another mid paced tracks which comes close to prog territory, again feeling very similar to DGM with its heavy main riff and its more complex rhythms. It’s definitely one of the more interesting tracks musically, with Simone really going all out during an incredible solo near the end, and the two singers are given some great vocal melodies, as usual, helping to make it a great end to the album.
I wasn’t expecting too much from Lione/Conti, but thankfully it turned out to be a pleasant surprise, offering up some great speedy power metal tracks, to go along with the expect melodic metal and great vocal showcases. While the two singers are clearly the main focus of the album, as one would expect, guitarist Simone Mularoni has managed to produce some great tracks here, managing to strike a nice balance between keeping things melodic and catchy enough to showcase his two singers, while still giving himself enough room to showcase his talents. Obviously, fans of everyone involved need to hear this album, as well as anyone who enjoys this kind of collaborative project, and fans of power metal and melodic metal are also highly recommended to give this a go, as they may be pleasantly surprised like I was.
Written by: Travis Green