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This is the first review I have made on this website, and I thought it would be fitting to start with an impressive, yet underrated album from a great Italian progressive metal band. Although these guys have not made much noise in terms of popularity over the years, they have continued to produced incredibly complex and stunning music. At one point they even hired the German vocal great, Oliver Hartmann, for the lead vocals on the album, The Alien Inside. After the success of this album, the band welcomed back lead singer Gio De Luigi, who recorded lead for the band's first two albums.
Now, this brings me to arguably the strongest piece of Empty Tremor: the vocals. Gio De Luigi is not the type of singer that stands out as one of the greatest vocalists to walk our planet over the past century. He does not have a particularly powerful voice with a great range, like Oliver Hartmann. He isn't going to go down in metal history as a Daniel Heiman or a Hansi Kursch or a Bruce Dickinson. He doesn't even have a particularly unique voice. Why, then, is his voice such an incredible stand-out performance on this album? Despite all of this, Gio is still an amazing singer. He's smooth, his tone is great and his style fits Empty Tremor's music perfectly (better than Hartmann, in my opinion).
By welcoming back this amazing talent, Empty Tremor was ready to take on Iridium, their next project. This album starts out very strong with "Breaking the Mirror", possibly their best song on the album and arguably the best song they've ever written. After this masterpiece comes possibly comes their weakest track, "Run". This song spits from the traditional Empty Tremor style, which is ambitious, but in this case unsuccessful.
The next five tracks are quite strong, starting with the over 10 minute masterpiece, "Warm Embrace". If there was one other song on the album that I would consider to be at par or better than "Breaking the Mirror", it would be this one. The song starts out like a typical solid power ballad, then grows into a powerful middle section and finishes off with an emotional ballad-esk section. "Autumn Leaves" is not nearly as strong, but still a descent number. "Friends in Progression" and "Unconditional Love" are both solid tracks that give this album a strong middle section, which is finished off by the beautiful ballad, "Everyday".
Similar to the second track, "Run", "Last Day On Earth" slightly splits from the style that is present on the rest of Iridium. Although this song is a much more solid piece than "Run", it would fit a lot better on The Alien Inside than Iridium. Finally, the title track "Iridium" finishes off an amazing album with power and strength, capping possibly the most underrated metal album of 2010.
The reason why I didn't give the album a higher mark than 93% is only because of the couple of tracks that didn't quite fit in with the rest of the album. Even so, this was a very successful album for a band after taking a 6-year hiatus. Although Iridium may at times seem stylistically closer to progressive rock than metal, this is a must listen for all progressive metal fans.
Highlights: Breaking the Mirror, Warm Embrace, Everyday, Iridium