|Musical Style: Melodic Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Underground Symphony||Country Of Origin: Italy|
|Year Released: 2015||Artist Website: Enzo Donnarumma|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 85%|
Enzo & The Glory Ensemble looks to be a strong contender within the melodic metal and power metal segments. The group is passionate and stylish as its county of origin (Italy). It features the unique baritone if not operatic vocals of founding member Enzo Donnarumma. And its December of 2015 Underground Symphony Records full length debut In The Name Of The Father includes a host of distinguished guest appearances: Marty Friedman (ex-Megadeth), Kobi Farhi (Orphaned Land), Ralph Scheepers (Primal Fear), Mark Zonder (Fates Warning & Warlord), Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery), Brian Ashland (Shadow Gallery) and Nicholas Leptos (Warlord).
Many will recall Enzo Donnarumma from his work in Members Of God and its 2012 debut release Ten Talking Words, an album that came about as a result of the vision he conceived of ‘Christ speaking through metal’. It reflects equally his background of combining classical music (Donnarumma graduated in classical guitar) and theatrical productions (he previously directed Jesus Christ Superstar) with Christian theology. From the latter standpoint, the album draws upon a conceptual basis of ‘delivering with a strong and emotional impact the true message of the crucified Messiah’ (as taken from the Members of God press material). Bloodgood’s every bit as theatrical rock opera of “Crucify” and “The Messiah” off Detonation from 1987 comes to mind in this regard.
The artists ‘Christ speaking through metal’ calling plays every bit the crucial role on In The Name Of The Father. Hailed as ‘the most ambitious Christian metal project ever made’ in light of the talented guest musicians at hand, the album gives rise to a ‘metal opera’ feel in resting upon a foundation of the power and progressive while also yielding nuances of classical music, symphonic & art rock, theatrical soundtrack, New Age and World & Ethnic Music. Despite such a wide array of styles, In The Name Of The Father comes across as a unified and concise whole in directly reflecting both the efforts of the artist - that also includes guitar and songwriting - and numerous guests in question.
Lyrics prove every bit crucial with a heavy basis on scripture, noting song titles “Psalm 63”, “Psalm 3” & “The Lord’s Prayer”, and re-imagined Medieval prayers such as “The Anima Christi” and “Glory Be To The Father”. Modern interpretations of “Benedictus” and “The Lord’s Prayer” are also included along with several tracks reflective of the artists Catholic Christian background, “Hail Holy Queen” and “Hail Mary”.
Album opens to its title track, a short (1:24) instrumental carried by New Age-ish keyboards until narration at the end repeats the phrase “In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”.
“Psalm 63” follows to a cinematic overture opening that gradually builds impetus prior to guitars kicking in over a basis of rancorous double bass. An abiding setting prevails moving forward, darker with its trenchant Symphony X like flavorings but also symphonic from the affluent keyboards that make a decisive statement. The song does not sacrifice melody either, as can be found in the catchy refrain:
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
Your right hand upholds me
The melodic emphasis continues into “The Lord’s Prayer”, a more relaxed and reserved piece reflective of AOR tinged and melodic hard rock qualities in which lighter guitar tones mingle with woodwinds and spacious keyboards. Tying everything together is the exquisite lead guitar work and choir vocals at the end. Lyrics base themselves upon Matthew 6:9-13:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Every bit notable to the song is how it allows Donnarumma to shine with his baritone to operative vocal abilities.
“Anima Christi” proves over the top epic in terms of taking the classic 14th century prayer and setting it to metal and hard rock music:
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Musically and lyrically, the artist (much to his credit) is traversing waters that (as far as I can tell) nobody has explored previously- or at the very least, I am surprised another Christian hard music band has not already thought to do something along these creative lines.
“Glory Be To The Father” represents one of he albums calmest in backing away from the metal penchant for a more Medieval based direction in which violin, flute and keyboards hold sway. Donnarumma forms a perfect duet with Whispers Of Heaven front lady Amulyn Corzine as the prayer in question is grandly recited:
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning is now
And ever shall be, world without end
“Benedictus” stands out as a return to a heavier and more upbeat symphonic metal direction in which I am somewhat reminded of Affector. The song rollicks from the get go, as lively piano and walls of surging guitars align with quite the classy vocal trade off between Donnarumma and the lower register flavorings of Ralph Scheepers. Choir vocals adorn the stately refrain. “Benedictus” represents an up to date take on the Canticle of Zachary:
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
He has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty Savior,
Born of the house of His servant David.
This reviewer’s choice piece is the Enzo & The Glory Ensemble version of “The Apostles Creed”. The song takes a classically influenced theatrical opera approach but ultimately prevails from the intricate lead guitar work decorating its length. At the three-minute mark, it abruptly takes off to a storm of all-out speed metal fury as operatic choir vocals dances in the backdrop. Lyrically, this one makes a statement of faith:
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died, and was buried;
He descended into hell.
On the third day He rose again;
He ascended into heaven,
He is seated at the right hand of the Father,
And He will come to judge the living and the dead.
“Hail Holy Queen” comes across in a haunting and creepy almost Gothic influenced manner as keyboards, orchestration and more choir vocals lead the way. As the song grows and builds in heaviness over its final half, Marty Friedman steps forward with a joining of searing guitar feedback and slowly played lead guitar.
“Guardian Angel Prayer” represents a brief interlude piece in which acoustic guitar and woodwinds intertwine with Amulyn Corzine’s crystalline vocals.
A return to a welcome heavier heading, “Psalm 3” pulls out all the stops with its reverberant rhythm section (Mark Zonder kicks up quite the storm timekeeping wise) and heavy hitting riffs galore (courtesy of Gary Wehrkamp) that define its distance. Swirling keyboards lend a symphonic effect, particularly over the cinematically driven final minute. This is the albums second track to base its lyrics on a Psalm:
Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
God will not deliver him
But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
My glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
And He answers me from his holy mountain.
“Hail Mary” comes across in the form of a piano and orchestral ballad in which the soprano vocals of Tina Gagliotta trade off with Enzo’s deeper and more resonant propensity. The upshot is the grand and stately environs at hand. Yes, the song is moving and deep as anything here, but I also cannot help but feel another heavier rocking piece might help better balance the track listing out as the album moves towards its close.
The same applies with “Maybe You”, the only track here not to draw its lyrics form an ancient source. Musically, it ranks with the albums lightest with an acoustic guitar and piano basis in also touching upon ballad territory. I appreciate how it gradually gains momentum until ending things in a big choir-like emotional crescendo at the end.
I encountered two options when it came to purchasing In The Name Of The Father:
1. Order the CD from the label and pay roughly $27 (including postage and handling) and then wait up to two weeks for international shipping from Italy.
2. Download the album from Amazon for $9.99 and receive the music files immediately.
I do not know how you might have played your cards, but I went with the instant gratification download route. The downside, of course, is that all I received was the music files and no cover art, lyrics or liner notes. The good news is that the polished and grandiose production (one of the best I heard from 2015) lends such a clean feel that a lyric sheet is not always a necessity. Still, lets hope that In The Name Of The Father gets picked up for much needed domestic distribution.
The Enzo & The Glory Ensemble propensity for taking Biblical text and Medieval hymns and prayers and setting them to a more contemporary and up to date musical format is creative if not unique. In The Name Of The Father is a masterpiece in this regard when factoring not only the depth of Enzo’s compositional abilities but also the ‘whose who’ in the metal scene guest appearances (musicianship and vocals as one might imagine represent strong points). That said lone complaint is how the presence of a few too many lighter and ballad like tracks leaves the impression the album might benefit from a couple more heavy hitters along the lines of “Psalm 63”, “Benedictus” and “Psalm 3”. Regardless, if interested in a metal album with a Medieval flair then give In The Name Of The Father the time and chance it deserves.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “In The Name Of The Father” (1:24), “Psalm 63” (5:33), “The Lord’s Prayer” (3:33), “Anima Christ” (3:16), “Glory Be To The Father” (3:33), “Benedictus” (4:12), “The Apostles Creed” (3:54), “Hail Holy Queen” (4:32), “Guardian Angel Prayer” (1:34), “Psalm 3” (6:02), “Hail Mary” (4:33), “Maybe You” (5:15)
Enzo Donnarumma - Vocals & Guitars
Kobi Farhi - Vocals
Ralph Scheepers - Vocals
Brian Ashland - Vocals
Nicholas Leptos - Vocals
Tina Gagliotta - Vocals
Amulyn Corzine - Vocals
Gary Wehrkamp - Guitars
Marty Friedman - Guitars
Mark Zonder - Drums