|Musical Style: Melodic Power Metal||Produced By: The Seminary of Catania & Metatrone|
|Record Label: Scarlet||Country Of Origin: Italy|
|Year Released: 2006||Artist Website: Metatrone|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 41:51|
Metatrone is an Italian Catholic power metal band that has been around since 1998. The group did not begin to hit its stride, however, until 2001 when keyboardist David Bruno entered the Seminary of Catania, a move which initiated a pilgrimage among its members in both music and in life. Refining its songwriting skills over the next three years, Metatrone proceeded to gain the financial backing of the father priests of the Seminary of Catania in addition to collaborating with TRP Music prior to releasing its full length debut The Powerful Hand in 2006. It is worth mentioning at this point that Metatrone – a band believing that “even with an extreme kind of music like heavy metal it is possible to talk about Jesus Christ and the Gospel” - co-produced the album with the Seminary of Catania and is an official project of the seminary itself.
What Metatrone delivers on The Powerful Hand is a catchy blend of power metal and melodic metal that will interest fans of Evergrace, Narnia, Magnitude 9, Dynasty, Audiovision, Harmony, Shining Star and Eterna. The band is at its best on up-tempo numbers “The Best Way”, “Forever Free”, “The Rock” and “Mirror City Train” - please keep in mind there is a great deal of melody here – but can compose a quality mid-tempo piece as well in “One In A Million” and “War Is Pain Again”. Metatrone exhibits the diversity of its songwriting skills, at the same time, on straightforward hard rockers “The Prince” and “Not Afraid” in addition to the Gregorian chanting found on symphonic album opener “Veni Creator Spiritus”. All in all, the most accurate comparison I might make here would be to Brazil’s Eterna, another Catholic power metal act, in terms of not only style but musical ability as well.
Metatrone includes a first rate talent in lead vocalist Jo Lombardo. Bringing a clean and smooth sounding vocal style with very fine range, Lombardo reminds me a bit of Rob Rock when he cuts loose and goes for a high note. Stefano Calvagno delivers an ample amount of rhythm guitar while demonstrating his adept soloing abilities on “One In A Million”, “The Prince” and “War Is Pain Again”. Keyboardist David Bruno adds just the right amount of accentuating touch in addition to dueling with Calvagno throughout the instrumental sections of “The Best Way” and “The Song Begins”. Tony Zappa showcases an ample amount of ability on drums (check out the double bass on “Free And Forever” and “Mirror City Pain”) and rounds out the rhythm section with bassist Virgilio Ragazzi.
Production values come across with the needed amount of polish and refinement. The rhythm guitar sounds crisp and edgy and the lead guitar easy to define. The one area of improvement worth noting, on the other hand, is the albums low end, which would have benefited from a slightly cleaner mix.
“Veni Creator Spiritus” gets things going in the form of a Gregorian chant in Latin carried over a blend of rhythm guitar and pounding drums. Powerful, sublime and just plain catchy, this one proves quite the fitting album opener. But at just 1:45, however, it ends somewhat abruptly and could easily have been extended an additional minute or two.
“The Best Way” crunches its way forward from the start, maintaining a profusion of determined impetus prior to gaining momentum for a catchy chorus giving rise to an abundance of refuse to go away appeal. Calvagno and Bruno trade off on lead guitar and keyboards throughout an extended instrumental section. “The Best Way” talks about the importance of love:
Even if I knew all of the knowledge
Or had the gift of the prophecy
Even if I could speak all the languages
But if it was no love…
“One In A Million” fades in to several seconds of keyboards before taking off to a symphonic flavored riff. Decelerating to an overriding bass line upon reaching its first verse, the song slowly moves ahead until a swell of rhythm guitar takes over and leads the way to a hook-filled chorus laced by a gentle trace of piano. Calvagno takes the opportunity to show off his abilities on lead guitar.
“Free And Forever” quickly races through its first verse to an aggressively delivered riff, a copious amount of double bass gaining hold of the mix as the song reaches a sweeping chorus delivered in an energetic but melodic flavored fashion. With its huge hook and abundance of energy, this is one of the first that comes to mind when considering the albums finer tracks. The lyrics stand out here as well:
My destiny shines in the night
As my will to be free and forever
No one knows which is the reason
I’m searching for to be
Free and forever with You
Take my hands to see where
You can find the joy to live
The sun’s shining in the sky again
Commencing to a lush acoustic guitar solo, “The Song Begins” kicks in to a driving riff only to quietly decelerate to an acoustic guitar upon reaching its first verse. Picking back up in pace, the song builds in impetus as the rhythm guitar returns in full fury to coerces things to an anthem-like chorus in which an authoritative setting is put into place. Calvagno and Bruno return to again duel on lead guitar and keyboards.
The orchestral opening to “The Rock” quickly transitions to several seconds of edgy, open air rhythm guitar. The song immediately launches into its worshipful chorus prior to setting off at an upbeat tempo, a stately atmosphere established as the way is paved for a passage shored up by narration from Exodus 20:2-3. Lombardo stands out here with his smooth sounding vocal delivery. “The Rock” is aptly named:
Only in the Rock
My soul is resting forever
Forever Rock of Hope
You mean for me the salvation
Forgive me again
Keep me safe from the Evil
Take care of my soul
“Mirror City Pain” roars through its verse portions to a double bass driven riff, maintaining the spirited impetus as it obtains a raucous chorus shored up by just the right amount of accentuating keyboards. This one is a three and a half minute explosion of non-stop energy that borders on speed metal. Tony Zappa gets quite the workout on double bass as well!
The introduction to “War Is Pain Again” gradually builds to a crescendo of hard hitting drums and rhythm guitar only to abruptly taper off upon reaching its first verse. Evenly moving ahead as keyboards gracefully decorate the backdrop, the song peaks for a lofty chorus that will ensnare you with its prevailing and infectious allure. An extended instrumental section is reinforced by a blend of keyboards, lead guitar and double bass. Great, great song.
The album takes a slight downturn with the tracks “The Prince” and “Not Afraid”. The key word here is “slight” in that both compositions, while certainly far from bad, are not up to the same high standards as those that precede them. The two, in addition, move in a direction that can be described as straightforward hard rock as opposed to power metal. In other words, the double bass of robo-drummer Tony Zappa has been replaced with a flattering touch of piano and acoustic guitar.
“The Prince” slowly moves through its first verse in acoustic laced fashion, not picking up in pace until the rhythm guitar steps forward and carries things to a melodic based chorus in which a piano plays a highlighting role. I enjoy the emotional feel to the lyrics here:
Every single day and every night
The life you’re worried about tonight
You have to know it’s all for me
My one and only way to be
My heart is here in God it lays
So don’t avoid me
I’m just like you
Oh, please don’t run away
“Not Afraid” follows the same patter of “The Prince” a hard rocking track that starts slowly only to build in impetus prior to reaching a flowing chorus advancing at a quickly moving, upbeat tempo. Calvagno tops things off with some of the albums best lead guitar work.
Album closer “Ave Maria” is shored up its brief distance (1:20) by an acoustic guitar and lyrics in Latin.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Veni Creator Spiritus” (1:45), “The Best Way” (3:52), “One In A Million” (4:29), “Free And Forever” (3:44), “The Song Begins” (5:20), “The Rock” (3:48), “Mirror City Train” (3:29), “War Is Pain Again” (4:14), “The Prince” (4:59), “Not Afraid” (4:51), “Ave Maria” (1:20)
Jo Lombardo – Lead Vocals
Stefano Calvagno – Guitars
Davide Bruno - Keyboards
Virgilio Ragazzi – Bass
Tony Zappa - Drums