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Well, this certainly won't be a hard album to review. You see this is definitely an "attitude" album, complete with definite hard rock tendencies and repetitive song structures that don't really go anywhere. I call this type of album and "attitude" album because it's general purpose is to cause people to go "wow man, that was a wicked guitar solo" or "what a killer riff!". Basically it means the focus is less on songwriting and the actual music, and more on just being a fun party album.
The thing that makes this different from similar party type bands is of course the fact that Impellitteri is a much more metal band than most of those other bands. There is some solid metal riffing here for sure, such as in "I'll Be With You" or "Kingdom of Light" but it fails to stand out much since every song sounds practically the same. Sure, they aren't exactly the same song but they are all basically mid paced, chuggy party tunes that all follow the same structure. It's just verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus-end and that's it for every song, though a few do have a bridge. The sole exception to this rule is Chris' guitar showcase "17th Century Chicken Pickin'" which is definitely impressive, and generally nice to listen to but doesn't hold up as one of the best guitar showcase songs.
I will say that Chris has a very good guitar tone, with a fairly beefy rhythm sound and a gorgeously smooth lead sound not to mention he's pretty amazing at composing a shred solo. He's almost like a cross of Gary Moore (in the way his solos have definite phrases and sections) and Yngwie Malmsteen (with the lightning speed picking and classical influence). In fact, every solo on this album is amazing especially "Rat Race" and Chris is really good at taking his otherwise not so distinct style, and ever so subtly putting his stamp on whatever song he's playing on. So those are definitely positives, as is Rob Rock's vocal delivery which definitely sounds like he's into what he's singing even when what he's singing isn't really all that great.
Aside from that, the album just isn't very good. As I said before it's got a definite hard rock influence and feel, which does get on my nerves as I've never liked that feel or style very much but I don't completely hold it against a band if such a sound pops up. The reason is doesn't work for Impellitteri on this album is because it's just not very well incorporated into the otherwise Yngwie type sound. Take for example the aforementioned "Kingdom of Light": it's probably the best song on here, with a very soaring main melody and general powerful feel, but the hard rock style verses don't mesh with the rest of the song very well and it could've been a lot better if it lacked those sections. Also, the rhythm section doesn't do anything remotely mentionable the entire time and with the exception of some cool unison lines in "17th Century Chicken Picken'", neither does keyboardist Edward Harris Roth.
So yeah that pretty much sums up the whole album. I could namedrop other songs, but it really wouldn't make much a difference as I'd just be repeating myself a lot. Don't get me wrong, I do like Impellitteri (the band) on a few other albums, but Screaming Symphony is not really one of them. Style wise it's the same as the rest of their albums, and quality wise it's not really a stand out negatively or positively in fact you could easily take this review and apply it to 90% of the rest of their albums and it would fit pretty nicely. Overall, not a bad album but it's not really worth your time. If you want something in this kind of style that's awesome, check out some Axel Rudi Pell from the same era or the other two Impellitteri albums this one is sandwiched in between.
Impellitteri’s Screaming Symphony is a very solid shred/speed metal album with a tinge of neoclassical metal. If you are not familiar with Impellitteri it was founded by Chris Impellitteri one of the worlds fastest and most gifted shred virtuosos, he has a similar style to Yngwie J.Malmsteen’s neo-classical shred technique. The band members are all Christian, but don’t bash secular fans with their beliefs. The sound of this album is mainly mid-tempo/fast-tempo speed metal riffs with excellent solos at each songs climax.
Chris Impellitteri does seam to have writers block on some of these songs, because many of the songs have very similar intro riffs played at different tones. Another problem is that each song is solid but variety is at a minimum, it wouldn’t have been a problem if each song was excellent. The instrumental 17th Century Chicken Pickin’ is the only song that strays from this albums formula, because it’s short completely lead guitar based, and shreds the entire time. If Chris could have worked on the leads and riffs a bit more, this album would have be a classic speed metal album.
The band’s performance is solid and at the top of their game on this album. Rob Rock is the vocalist for Screaming Symphony and peppers each song with classic metal styled vocals and plenty of high falsetto note shrieks, he is a gifted vocalist. The drumming just provides rhythm and fills, not rising above average. Chris’s guitar work while good is mainly solo based and could have used much more focus on the leads than the riffs. The bassist like mentioned above has tuned his bass much lower than usual for speed metal, giving it a bass heavy effect. The keyboard work is great, it adds atmosphere to the album, and really shines on 17th Century Chicken Pickin’.
Screaming Symphony is overall a great way to introduce newcomers to Impellitteri because of its high quality content. Best songs are Father Forgive Them, I’ll Be With You, 17th Century Chicken Pickin’, and Rat Race. I recommend this album to people who enjoy shred/speed metal and even some neo-classical metal.
-5 points similar intro riffs on songs
-4 points song variety is at a minimum
-6 points guitar leads and main riffs could be much better
While all of Chris Impellitteri's work is of high quality, it is with this 1996 release that the band hit its zenith.
This piece of metal mayhem is complete. The production is outstanding. The musicianship is stellar. The lyrics, while Christian in nature and scope, are interesting and well written and still offer much to a secular audience. The singing, courtesy of the great Rob Rock is over the top, as Rock hits fantastic high notes throughout the album. I am surprised he never was up for the Priest gig after Rob Halford left the band, as he would have been terrific.
But what makes a great album is really the songs, and there is no lack of terrific songs here. "Screaming Symphony" does not contain a single duff track. Everything on offer is high quality, up tempo and catchy as hell.
Every song except for the instrumental "17th Century Chicken Pickin'" is structured the same way: Verse, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Solo, Chorus. This is OK. It works. The longest song on the album clocks in at only 4:21. No song on "Screaming Symphony" exists long enough to get tired of. Virtually any of the songs would have made for great radio listening, especially "I'll Be With You", "Walk Away", "Kingdom Of Light", and "Rat Race".
I must compliment Mr. Impellitteri for the restraint he shows in his soloing. It actually enamours his playing. Impellitteri plays for the song. Each solo is sheer shred, but structured to simply fit the song and not go off unnecessarily. The solo's are short, fast and to the point. His fluid playing and crisp clear guitar sound make listening to him a pleasure.
If you purchase one Impellitteri album, "Screaming Symphony" is a must buy.