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Don't judge a book by its cover - 78%

Whalenut, July 7th, 2011

A few weeks ago I discovered this band and their newest album, Anthems of Conquest. I liked it a lot so I searched for its predecessor, Storm over Scaldis.

The music on SoS can be described as a mixture of power metal and melodic death metal with folk influences. The band puts the emphasis on the guitars and there are solo’s on almost all the tracks. The folk melodies are played by the guitars as well, except for the intro of Manannán Mac Lir, which is played by a violin. The band sounds a bit technical but very accessible. The vocals vary from harsh vocals (grunts, screams etc) and clean vocals (mostly female vocals, but some songs contain clean male vocals as well). The range of singer Sjoera is mezzo soprano and the grunts are mostly death oriented. Comparable bands are Arkona, Ensiferum, Battlelore and Kivimetsän Druidi.

This record is quite good, although the songs are of mixed quality. Some songs are absolute killers, and some (a minority) are worthless fillers. All the elements typical of Anthems of Conquest are there, but just a bit less well executed. Let’s start with the killers:

The CD starts with a moody intro, with some sound samples of a storm and a violin tune with a shitload of reverb on top of it. And then BAM! Ride into Oblivion kicks in. This is a great high-octane metal track that kicks your butt from the first notes! I love how both singers sing their own bits in the verses and then come together in the chorus. The solo is simple but effective, and the coda is the same riff as the intro with a bunch of arpeggio’s on top of it. If only the rest of the album had the same intensity!

The next two songs are really good as well. I am not going to make a track-per-track review, so here are the highlights: epic chorus and brutal verses in For Us Fallen Ones, and folk violin intro and excellent songwriting in Manannán Mac Lir (the best track on this album).

Other pearls on the album are Torquemada (with an incredibly epic solo at the end), Medusa and Legendary Forest, a folksy dance-along gem comparable to Korpiklaani’s tunes, but more metal because all the melodies are played on the guitar and not on random folk instruments. Another positive point is that this is a band that puts a lot of work in the lyrics, without trying too hard to appear smart.

But enough praise, there are some fillers and the album as well. Frost is certainly one of them, and the only memorable thing about this track is the headbang section in the bridge and chorus. I’m sure it works live… but this is a boring song. Maybe because it’s only got female vocals and no scream or grunts at all, but it has no power or drive.

Another uninspired track would be Forlorn. This is the worst track of the album, and the only upside is that when you skip it the next song is Legendary Forest, one of the killer tracks. How can a band write such bad songs next to great songs like the ones mentioned earlier? That is a mystery to me.

The rest of the album is quite good, and this is a promising debut. The next album is even better and shows that Angeli Di Pietra is a band willing to evolve. I am very curious about their next offering!

Oh yeah I forgot: the cover is butt ugly! Who in their right mind would release an album with this cover...?

Powerfolk for the masses - 70%

Lord_Lexy, March 7th, 2010

Belgium is rather poor in folk or power metal bands. But, lo and behold, here we have Angeli Di Pietra. A band from Antwerp, my hometown! That should be a good thing, right? The band was promoted by a blog on the website of one of Flanders’ (Belgium’s Dutch speaking part) biggest newspapers.

Angeli Di Pietra claim to be “Powerfolk for the masses!”. A claim that appealed to me, as I am a big fan of both power and folk metal. But sometimes bands might claim to be something that they’re not, because of their principles, because of their own musical preferences or because of their image: I dare mention the (fallen) Kings of Metal here…

But Angeli Di Pietra is worth the title of powerfolk. They mix metal riffs up with folky melodies on the guitars, which is at the same time both heavy as light. Heavy, as headbangers will be satisfied by the steady and fast drumming and bass. Light, is the folk melodies and the shouts invite to party with them. A violin does the intro for Manannán mac Lir, some keyboards here and there and an ebow on Torquemada. There are no other non-metalinstruments here, but the power of the guitar melodies justifies the folk term.

Two vocalists sing on this album, male and female. They dance a strange dance, sometimes dancing together: a steady waltz with both of them doing the same. At other points (for example on Ride into Oblivion) both are singing on their own, creating a sound that seems cacophonic at first but begins to clear after a few listening sessions. Or they dance on their own, while they other rests and watches the dance. It works very good, and provides variation between the grunts of the male vocalist and the high notes of the female vocalist.

Let’s examine Ride into Oblivion, my personal favourite on this album. The song starts with a high-tempo guitar, builds up together with the drums and then the male vocalist screams. Everything plays harder and faster, the guitars are set loose and the drummer is beating his instrument with passion. The male and female vocalist start their strange dance, singing at the same time, but not together. The song knows some climbs towards a climax, as there are: the drums and bass set at high speed, the woman singing and the man ending with the words: “Ride into Oblivion”. We get a guitar solo, and a steady fast bassline. The song ends with the same guitar riff it began with, and leaves you hungry for more. Lucky you, since this was just the first song of the album. Now I have to be honest: none of the other songs has that special bit which makes Ride into Oblivion that good, but those songs are still good and worth the money.

Storm Over Scaldis is a good album by a good band from Antwerp. They sound very promising and I am curious about the new material they’ll be recording in just a few weeks.

For the fans - 70%

DGYDP, August 16th, 2009

After a number of demo's and an EP, Storm Over Scaldis is the first full-length of the Belgian folk metal band Angeli di Pietra. It contains a number of previously recorded songs, as well as a handful of new ones. Fans of the band will be more than satisfied by this release, and folk metal fans in general should definitely have a look at this release. The music of Angeli di Pietra has not changed much over the years and consists of power metal guitar work, folky melodies and harmonies reminiscent of mid-90's melodeath. On vocals we find two different persons: Guy Van Campenhout provides deep, booming Gothenburg vocals, contrasted by Sjoera Roggeman's slightly operatic female soprano.

Oh yes, I know what you're thinking: "sounds like a crappy Eppur Si Muove rip-off". And while there are indeed some similarities, this band is more then Haggard worship. For one thing, there is no actual classical music to be found here, barring Sjoera's vocals. The song structures are also original and interesting, while the guitars go beyond the boundaries of typical folk metal. And yet, most of the music is nothing new: think of a Therion/Haggard/Eluveitie cross and you're pretty close to what Angeli di Pietra sound like.

The guitar work is solid and daring, with interesting instrumental parts and solos. The same can be said about all the other instruments, including the vocals. All in all I'm sure this release will please a very large part of the folk metal crowd, while it will probably not convince those who are not folk metal fans. Storm Over Scaldis accomplishes its goals, showing that Angeli di Pietra are a force to be reckoned with.