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Civilization One were a band who seemed to leave as quickly as they arrived, and appeared doomed to fall into the one-release wonder category after splitting up back in 2010. Their debut ‘Revolution rising’ really wasn’t anything too special, but it was a nimble little melting pot of a few different European power metal approaches and a good showcase for the vocals of Chity Somapala and the guitar talents of Aldo Lonobile.
Lonobile didn’t stick around for long though after the band attempted to move beyond studio project status, and his loss is keenly felt on this shelved follow-up release now belatedly brought to light by Limb Music.
Superficially similar to its predecessor, ‘Calling the gods’ is inevitably something of a different beast, probably best described as melodic metal with dashes of power metal and some irksome “modern” elements here and there. It should be remembered that Lonobile wrote 2/3 of the music on the debut and his absence is noted as the songs mostly feel lacking in depth, with less touches of flair injected to keep things lively throughout.
The roll-call of drummers and guitarists fluctuating around Somapala and bassist Pierre-Emmanuel Pélisson was probably a factor in the 2 assuming control of the band and writing all of the music between them, with the vocalist actually penning the biggest percentage of the songs. This may have been the problem as while his own performance is characteristically strong and the melodies are often inspired, the main structure of the songs often feel reduced and overly simplistic, with most hovering comfortably around the 3 1/2-minute mark.
There are some inspired moments to be found, mostly in the soaring choruses, and despite the simplistic nature of many of the songs there are still a few surprises to be had, though sadly not always pleasant ones. The Pélisson-penned “The supernatural virtue” is essentially just a lightweight Gothenburg song with melodic vocals, but actually works quite nicely and definitely contains the CD’s most memorable riffing.
On the other side of that coin though lurks the moronic groove riffing on “Hell awaiting” and a few other half-assed attempts at heaviness that usually manifest in the form of repetitive beatdown chugging.
The shortness of the songs means the 10 tracks that make up the CD proper only run to a skimpy 35 minutes and I can’t help but wonder if this may have been a factor in struggling to get someone to release it back when it was recorded, and by extension the inclusion of a couple of completely baffling bonus tracks.
The first of 3, “Sprit in the wind” is very much in the vein of the rest of the CD and in fact would have made for a decent closer to wash the away the distasteful, squawking guitar sounds on the weak “New world” that serves as the true final track, but what follows really defies belief on the first listen. “Believing the dream” and “Dreams of fire” are both actually Somapala solo tracks – recorded for Sri Lankan sporting teams after Civilization One had split up - and would sound more at home on some faceless world music compilation CD. “Dreams of fire” actually has some goofy charm going in its favour, but both songs are just so staggeringly out of place that you have to question the motivation behind including them here.
Normally I think it would be bad form to get so hung up on the bonus material, but when these tracks make up about 20% of the total running time its difficult to ignore –the CD either has to be seen as too short and undercooked, or padded out with inappropriate songs that they had lying around.
This dissatisfying and confused feeling is something that permeates the CD – some of it is pretty decent stuff, while at other times it feels contrived and by the numbers. Definitely a step down from the more than decent debut CD, it remains to be see where Civilization One can go from here, if anywhere.
(Originally written for http://www.metalcdratings.com/)