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melodic power metal with neo-classical elements - 70%

TrooperOfSteel, May 18th, 2011

It seems like almost everybody these days are creating side projects and secondary bands to pursue their own musical talents in the metal world. I could give examples, but I’m sure you have thought of a few already in your mind. One of these latest newly-formed bands is Italian melodic power metal group, Mastercastle, conceived by the guitarist of Italian progressive power metal band Labyrinth, Pier Gonella.

Inviting fellow Italian musicians, bassist Steve Vawamas (Athlantis) and drummer Alessandro ‘Bix’ Bissa (Athlantis, Vision Divine) into the mix, the band was rounded off with the hiring of unknown female vocalist, Giorgia Gueglio. Although Mastercastle’s sound is melodic power metal, there are elements of neo-classical thrown around as well.

While listening to the album, I did notice that the guitar work of Pier Gonella made for the centerpiece, which seemed obvious as it is his project. Being the standout of the band is not such a bad thing as it shows off just how good a guitarist Gonella is. With wonderful rocking riffs and melodies played in such an intricate fashion, Gonella really takes a bow in the two instrumentals on the album (“My Screams” and “Memories”), where the shredding and guitar-wankery takes center stage.

The voice of Giorgia Gueglio takes a bit of time to get used to, as she is a tad rough around the edges. I felt that her best work was in the mid-paced melodic tracks, where her poppy-ish voice connects rather well with the music. One example of where Gueglio excels is on the track “Princess Of Love”. Her voice soars with confidence and exuberance and makes the slightly gothic sounding track one of the standouts on the album. I hear a slight Stratovarius influence and similarity throughout the whole CD (among other European power metal bands), but none more so than on the two tracks “The Phoenix” and “Greedy Blade”. Both are solid mid to fast paced tracks with excellent melodic guitar-work and vocals. Other songs worth mentioning here is the album opener “Words Are Swords”, with its aggressive opening riff and energetic structure, and the emotional CD closer “Cradle Of Stones”.

Although the album as a whole is quite solid and enjoyable, I feel that there is something missing which would set it apart from every other melodic power metal band with a similar sound. Obviously not expecting anything new or groundbreaking (not that it really matters), Mastercastle’s ‘The Phoenix’ would be a welcomed addition to a power metal fan’s collection, particularly fans of Labyrinth, fans of female fronted metal bands and lastly, neo-classical metal bands.

Originally reviewed for www.themetalforge.com