|Musical Style: Epic Symphonic Metal||Produced By: Christian Ice & Ivory Moon|
|Record Label: Ulterium||Country Of Origin: Italy|
|Year Released: 2007||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 61:02|
The Italian epic symphonic metal group Ivory Moon came together in the summer of 2000 prior to putting together its first promo CD two years later. Releasing its full length debut, On The Edge Of Time, in early 2004 on Battle Hymn Records, Ivory Moon returned to the studio in 2006 to begin work on its sophomore effort Human Nature. After completing the recording process later the same year, the band signed with Ulterium Records of Sweden, which released the album the latter half of 2007.
What we have in Ivory Moon is a joining of epic and symphonic metal mixed with occasional power and progressive tendencies. Taking quite the complex approach to its art, the band best displays its technical expertise on “Through Different Eyes”, “Phantom Ship” and “The Journey”, three intricate tracks standing out with their numerous time changes. Ivory Moon flirts with progressive metal territory on “Reign Of Time” and “Golgota” – again, the songwriting here is quite technical – but can deliver a solid mid-tempo offering in “Crimson Horizon” and “In The Deep Forest” or pick up the pace for “Wasted Time” and “Overflow”. A straightforward hard rock direction is taken on “Clowns In The Mirror” while “The Second King” represents the albums lone ballad.
Ivory Moon stands out with its dual lead vocal approach, combining the clean, mid-octave male vocals of Sandro Manicone with the melodic – at times operatic – female touch provided by Cecilia Serra. Fans of Nightwish and Epica, of course, will find Ivory Moon to their liking as will those into Fountain Of Tears and perhaps Voice Of Glass. If Pyramaze, Images Of Eden and Theocracy appeal to you then Ivory Moon also comes with a strong recommendation.
The band makes its presence felt in terms of its instrumental sound but without overdoing it in the process. The likes of “In The Deep Forest”, “Reign Of Time”, “Clown In The Mirror” and “The Second King” display this in no uncertain terms - all the while allowing David Calisse to display his flashy abilities on lead guitar. The keyboard work of Filippo Natoli must be mentioned as well. Always effective in highlighting the backdrop, he also knows when to add an underlining trace of piano (such as on “Wasted Time” and “Phantom Ship”).
Production values give rise to a full and heavy feel in combining a substantial low end with a complementary mix of rhythm guitar and keyboards.
While Ivory Moon might not be a Christian band (three of its members are believers), it still weaves occasional Christian imagery in its lyrics throughout the project. “Golgota”, a dramatic track portraying the events leading up to and including Christ’s crucifixion, showcases this best. Other numbers worth noting include “In The Deep Forest” – which focuses on seeing God in creation – and the eternal themes present in “Phantom Ship”.
A stately blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards gets “Crimson Horizon” underway. Evening out upon reaching its first verse, the song incrementally builds catchy momentum prior to moving on to a passage giving rise to a plethora of sublime appeal. A rollicking instrumental section is underlined by a piano.
“In The Deep Forest” begins quietly as a piano stands in support of Serra’s tranquil vocal delivery. The song abruptly picks up in pace as the rhythm guitar kicks in, an exalted setting established as it smoothly flows to a choir-like chorus that comes across splendid in magnitude. A stretch of adeptly played lead guitar shores up an extensive instrumental section. “In The Deep Forest” talks about the wonders of creation:
In the deep forest, there’s the natural law
Here, the man has no more power
In the heart of forest
You can see God in every sign – in every line
Initiated by an animated instrumental section, “Wasted Time” maintains the up-tempo impetus as a hard hitting guitar riff leads the way through its first verse. A hammering deluge of pounding drums backs the spirited but hook-laden chorus that follows. As “Wasted Time” moves past its halfway mark, a piano gently presides over the mix before the rhythm guitar returns to its previous place of prominence.
“Reign Of Time”, coming in at just under eight minutes, showcases many of the albums more progressive moments. Numerous changes in environs are presented here, some giving rise to a faster and more guitar driven feel and others in which a piano plays a forward role. Quite the copious melody is put forth on this one in addition to a strong display by the band of its instrumental sound. The lead vocal trade off between Serra and Manicone works to perfection as well.
A forward wall of rhythm guitar drives the straightforward hard rock of “Clown In The Mirror’ forward from the start, leading the way with full authority until the romping scene tapers off for a tranquil passage highlighted by a quietly played guitar. After picking up in pace, the song moves on to an instrumental section featuring some of the albums liveliest work on lead guitar. “Clown In The Mirror” is a synonym for television:
Watch the television
How many nice faces
I sell many dreams and spots
I sell virtual places
I help you forget
Your hard and useless life
But switch off your brain
I hold the reigns
The seven minute “Golgota” comes across in dramatic fashion as it portrays the events leading up to and including Christ’s crucifixion (depicting his betrayal at the hands of Judas in addition to Gethsemane and trial before Pilate). Musically, “Golgota” can best be described as epic-like in standing out with its tasteful time changes: the band makes occasional but appropriate use of piano, acoustic guitar and orchestral keyboards to accent the predominantly symphonic based metal environment. Bloodgood’s “Crucify” and “Sacrifice” by Saint come to mind here in terms of not only the histrionic environs but lyrical direction as well:
Save Barabbas’ life!
This Jesus must die!
Clashing symbols and orchestration introduce the ballad “The Second King”. Upholding the still setting throughout its first and second verse, the song gains initiative as it procures a grand and stately chorus in which Manicone and Serra trade off. Calisse adds to the lofty scene with an emotionally played guitar solo. I appreciate the imagery found in the lyrics here:
Now I have a kingdom
I live in your heart
Everything can be real
If you believe in it
I will fight, I will die
To see this light in your eyes
The keyboard solo at the start of “Through Different Eyes” gives way to a fast pace joining of rhythm guitar and drums. The song proceeds to taper off to a near crawl for a driving passage in which a near bluesy environment is put into place, not regaining its lost momentum until a heavy duty guitar riff takes over. Symphonic would be the best way to describe the final minute here as Serra exhibits the operatic feel to her vocal delivery.
“Phantom Ship” proves an intricate but melodic piece of epic metal, rotating between passage driven at a sublime, upbeat tempo and others accentuated by a complementary hint of piano. The song even slows to a near standstill for a verse in which keyboards play an eminent role only to pick back up in pace as the rhythm guitar returns in all its majestic glory. The ensuing instrumental section showcases a run of showy lead guitar. On “Phantom Ship” Ivory Moon takes a look at death:
The eye of God watched my sins
His great & scaring hands covered the sea
On my fellows the shadow has fallen – I saw the death
The melodic “Overflow” puts in place an excess of authority as it proceeds through its imposing first verse. Moving forward to several seconds of rapid double bass, the song achieves an infectious chorus fortified by a trace of highlighting vocal harmonies. Keyboards lead the way through a tireless instrumental section before “Overflow” decelerates to a serene joining of piano and orchestration. Once the pace picks back up, double bass returns to carry things to their close in ardent fashion.
A keyboard solo that transitions to a quickly moving guitar riff opens “The Journey”. The song plows ahead with the rhythm guitar playing a forward role in the mix, a changeover made as it gains a hold of a passage imbued by Serra’s high end vocal flavorings. A lofty instrumental section fades to a piano, the rhythm guitar returning to carry things forward until “The Journey” slowly fades out over its last minute as the phrase “So far away, so far away” is continually repeated.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Crimson Horizon” (5:26), “In The Deep Forest” (5:00), “Wasted Time” (4:03), “Reign Of Time” (7:44), “Clown In The Mirror” (4:25), “Golgota” (7:35), “The Second King” (5:30), “Through Different Eyes” (4:45), “Phantom Ship” (5:42), “Overflow” (4:35), “The Journey” (6:17)
Cecilia Serra - Vocals
Sandro Manicone - Vocals
Davide Calisse - Lead Guitar
Fabrizio Zucchini - Guitars
Filippo Natoli - Keyboards
Fabrizio Sclano - Bass
Emanuele Valabrega – Drums