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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...?