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An actual new era...but not really. - 85%

hells_unicorn, June 30th, 2013

Just like clockwork, a couple of years go by, and Italy's Derdian are back at it with another excursion into lightning fast, symphonic-tinged power metal after the long standing tradition begun by Rhapsody (Of Fire). This band has actually been a bit of an enigma in that their 3 album concept series began under the title "New Era", but for anyone unable to acquire their extremely hard to find demo material, one has to wonder how it was a new era for the band. The mystery has now vanished as the band has dropped the original concept and have a new vocalist, thus kicking off the actual new era so to speak, but then agian, not really. If there is one thing that a band of this caliber understands is that genre-hopping rarely works out well (*cough* Elvenking and Human Fortress), thus the newly birthed "Limbo" is a different storyline with a radically similar soundtrack.

If there is a predecessor that this album can be likened to, the obvious one would be "War Of The Gods", if only for the similarity in how this one begins with a jarring military march with a gang vocal line similar to the gruff character that accompanied said "Overture". But "Carpe Deim" takes it a step further by going from an extremely jarring usage of silence to putting their Neo-classical craft over a blistering blast beat. As impressively different as this sounds, it proves to perfectly articulate how this album essentially functions as a faster and meaner version of past works. Many of the same Baroque cliches are employed, with actually a greater level of frequency, and the number of slower songs has shrunk to the point that one almost hears this as a sequel to Rhapsody's "Power Of The Dragonflame", complete with the occasional usage of toneless guttural vocals to sharpen the sound a bit.

While this band has always had a pretty strong affinity for Luca Turilli's former band(s), here they've slipped even closer to them with the entry of new vocalist Ivan Giannini. In contrast to his predecessor's husky Tobias Sammet character, what is heard here sounds a bit closer to Fabio Lione, with a screechy high range right out of Olaf Hayer's handiwork on Luca Turilli's first couple of solo albums. Particularly on "Terror" (this album's closest resemblance to a typical upper mid-tempo power metal song) and the high flying "Kingdom Of Your Heart" his soaring tenor complements an elaborate array of lead guitar melodies, crunchy riffs that occasionally take on a thrashing character, and dense layers of synthesized orchestral sounds. In spite of there being few experiments to speak of outside the usual comfort zone of a power metal album, every song on here exudes a freshness to them comparable to the early 2000s period albums that this band were influenced by.

Naturally, with a brand new story and a modified line up, there are sure to be some new things to come along for the ride. The longest and arguably the most insane of the various technical feats heard on here is the title song "Limbo". Apparently these guys have been listening to Hamka's "Unearth" quite a bit as this thing is loaded up with Eastern influences, African drums, thrash riffs, death metal grunts and groans, and a smattering of progressive rock/metal influences that almost resemble early 2000s Dream Theater at times. Much of the rest of the album tends to engage in less genre bending, but there is a sizable collection of long songs with plenty of twists and turns to them within their normal paradigm, of which "Hymn Of Liberty" proves the most intricate with its even blend of speeding majesty and balladic, piano oriented parts.

Though the previous album "The Apocalypse" was a little bit catchier and easier to digest, this is an essential pick up for anybody who craves their Italian power metal with a bit more punch and a little more ambition. At times it gets campy and exaggerated enough to almost listen like Dragon Guardian or a number of other assorted fantasy based power metal acts to come out of Japan in the past 10 years or so. Don't let the esoteric subject matter and album cover fool you, this is just as slanted towards the tales of bygone days and dragon slayers that the previous offerings were.