Released By: Pride & Joy Records
Release Date: December 6th, 2019
Genre: Neoclassical Power Metal
Luca Sellitto – Guitars, Keyboards
Svante Henryson – Bass, Cello
Patrick Johansson – Drums
Rob Lundgren – Vocals
Goran Edman – Vocals
Henrik Brockmann – Vocals
1. Second to None
2. Land of the Vikings
4. What If
5. Shadows of Love
6. The Champion’s Code
7. Into the Light
8. Tearful Goodbye
I’ve enjoyed the past two releases from Italian progressive metal band Stamina a great deal, and so when I heard guitarist/bandleader Luca Sellitto had his solo album coming out, I was interested to see how it would turn out. Once I listened to the first single and discovered it would be a neoclassical power metal album, I was even more excited, to hear what the full release would sound like. Now that I’ve heard The Voice Within several times, it seems Sellitto wanted to experiment with something a bit different from what he does with his main band, and this release is some excellent speedy, technical neoclassical power metal, which doesn’t sound at all like of his previous works.
Indeed, this is quite the change of pace from anything he’s released with Stamina, as opposed to being a melodic prog album, The Voice Within largely consists of some straight-forward, but very technically impressive power metal, with tons of neoclassical shredding and nods to classical music, as well as occasional influences from other genres. There are some keyboards times, and they can get flashy at points, as well as sometimes being used in a very retro, 80’s hard rock/AOR sort of way, but for the most part, they’re relegated to the background, in favor of some very flashy, very impressive guitar work. Of course, there’s tons of shredding, but there are also some heavy riffs, and some very nice melodic guitar work, sometimes in a 90’s Euro power metal way, and sometimes leaning a bit closer to classic heavy metal or hard rock. While power metal is the main genre, with the neoclassical elements also being very prominent, there’s a good amount of variety in the tracks, with rather varying tempos throughout, and some tracks are more intense and epic, while others are more subdued. Aside from one slight disappointment, I find all songs enjoyable in their way, with a few, in particular, being excellent.
While Sellitto is the star of the album, he’s brought in some great guests to help him out, including former Yngwie Malmsteen collaborators, drummer Patrick Johansson and bassist Svante Henryson, to help complete the instrumental work. Everyone does a great job, and the production is perfect throughout the album. As well as the guest musicians, there are three different guest vocalists, whose songs I’ll tackle separately below, along with the three instrumental tracks.
First off, I’ll cover the most prolific guest here Göran Edman, a metal/hard rock veteran who’s been involved with many different bands throughout his career. He’s featured on lead single “Land of the Vikings”, a very straight-forward, super speedy track with some excellent lead keyboards that have a very 90’s power metal feel to them, as well as some nice melodic guitar work, with slight neoclassical leaning, especially during the stunning extended solo section in the middle. The verses are fun and the chorus is fantastic, with Edman delivering his usual deep, powerful yet silky smooth vocals, which fit the track perfectly.
Next up, we have ex-Evil Masquerade, ex-Royal Hunt vocalist Henrik Brockmann, who provides vocals on “Shadows of Love”. This is a fairly dark, mid-paced power metal track, with equal amounts of atmospheric keyboards, nice rhythm guitars, and some great leads, especially during the epic guitar/keyboard instrumental duel in the second half. Musically, it’s a great track, but unfortunately, I struggle a bit with Brockmann’s vocals, as he has a high pitched, rather wild voice that seems a bit odd with the song, and I find his over the top delivery to be a tad irritating, though I can see some folks enjoying his performance, for sure. For me though, his is the worst track on the album, entirely due to the vocals.
The third guest vocalist here is Rob Lundgren, who I was unfamiliar with before hearing this album, but he left quite a strong impression, showing an impressive range, sometimes sounding a bit animated and high pitched, while other times being fairly deep and smooth, while still sounding powerful. His approach is quite varied, and he sounds rather different on each of his tracks, which is cool. He performs on three tracks, starting with the opener “Second to None”, a very speedy, heavily neoclassical flavored power metal track, with heavy riffs, frantic drum beats, high energy verses, and a very strong chorus, where Lundgren delivers some of his most intense, wild vocals on the album, while the instrumental section is also quite impressive. Next is “What If”, a mid-paced, very melodic track, which falls into hard rock/AOR territory with some very retro sounding keys and very melodic guitars, complete with an extremely catchy, delightfully cheesy chorus that would have fit in perfectly during the ’70s or ’80s. Lundgren is at his absolute smoothest on this track and does a terrific job throughout. His third and final track is “Into the Light”, a mid-paced though fairly upbeat power metal track, with some of the heaviest riffs on the album, with heavy verses to go along with a very melodic, catchy chorus. The vocals are again terrific throughout, with the chorus especially being a highlight, along with the excellent melodic guitar solo in the second half.
Lastly, we have the three instrumental tracks, which are nicely spread throughout the album. First up is “Etude”, a very speedy track, which has the most obvious classical influence out of any track on the album, with Sellitto doing a terrific job as always. The main melody is very neoclassical and is very prominent throughout, though there are some brief solos, which go in different directions, sometimes going heavier, sometimes going more melodic, and everything is technically amazing, while still being fun and memorable the whole way through. Overall, it’s my favorite instrumental track, as well as one of my favorites. Three tracks later are “The Champion’s Code”, which begins with a beautiful piano melody, before the drums and guitars kick in, and it turns into a nice, melodic mid-paced track, with a wonderful lead melody that remains throughout the track, to go along with more wonderful solos. Closing out the album is “Tearful Farewell”, a slower-paced, softer track, which has some beautiful guitar work, but at over 5 minutes, I find it to a bit too uneventful, and it feels like it may have worked better either as a full-on ballad, with vocals or as a shorter outro track. It’s still nice, as is, but I find it a fairly disappointing way to close out the album.
Aside from one somewhat disappointing instrumental track, and a potentially divisive vocal performance on one track, The Voice Within is an excellent solo release from Luca Sellitto, who’s done a nice job of branching out a bit, and trying something a little different from his work with Stamina. Power metal fans looking for an album with some excellent instrumental work, are highly recommended to give this a listen, as are folks looking for some great neoclassical instrumental work, and of course Stamina fans may be interested, as well, as long as they realize this album sounds much different than anything from Sellitto’s main band. I think there’s room for improvement if he ever makes a second album, but for what it is, this is a great release, and I certainly look forward to hearing more from him, as well his main band, in the future.
Written by: Travis Green
My Global Mind – Staff Writer
Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.