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Defending Rome with Soaring Epic Velocity - 80%

bayern, September 13th, 2021

This band was founded by members of the power metal outfit Scala Mercalli, who decided to follow a slightly different trajectory from their comrades, one that led them to a cool but routine first effort of old school power/speed metal, a bit of thrash as well, modelled after the US models from the 80’s, think Metal Church’s first two, above all. The vocalist, the name Germano Quintaba, impressed big time on the debut Scala Mercalli demo with a pronounced high-strung, very emotional delivery, one that even rivalled the banshee-like siren of the inimitable Toto Bergmann from the German thrash powerhouse Living Death.

The thing is that the man had decided to tuck away his earlier vocal exploits, and to embark on a more versatile journey around the singing spectre, with a wide gamut of vocal styles enmeshed into a not very appetizing cocktail, his dominant clean mid-ranged delivery a very far cry from his previous, much more attractive style. Even those who’ve never lent an ear to the first demo of his first outfit, had problems adjusting to this not always pleasant performance behind the mike.

Music-wise things weren’t too bad, though, with “Hyper Martyrium” embracing the thrash whole-heartedly, sounding overtly aggressive at times, like the guys wanted to sever their ties with their mellower past, and join the growing classic thrash legions at the dawn of the new millennium. That never happened, though, as “Non Plvs Vltra” was a return to the more moderate power/speed metal formula, not a bad album by any means, with “Invulnerable” following a very similar trajectory.

The laconically-titled fifth instalment reviewed here also sees the departure of Quintaba, with a new voice spearheading the musical fiesta which doesn’t take any ill-measured flights of the imagination. This is the good old retro speed/power metal, the new vocalist way less adventurous, and way more reliable with a steady mid-ranged clean timbre which he often stretches towards the more emotional higher-pitched parameters. The prevalent fast-paced tone is early established with the edgy boisterous “The Legionary” and “Kommander”, the dynamic mid-paced veneer of “Non Omnis Moriar” another lively addition, not to mention the fervent speed metal winner “Eye for an Eye”, a cool reminder of the 80’s German scene (Vectom, Warrant, Iron Angel, Atlain). A few more moderate epic walkabouts (“Sins of the Nation”) keep the more faint-of-heart in check, the latter totally melting on the soporific lyrical ballad “Days of Mourning”, but run for cover, and fast, on the closing duo “Parasite” and “Burnin’ Pyres”, restless speedsters which would easily qualify for the “Painkiller” even.

An interesting trivia would be the fact that both acts, the one here and Scala Mercalli, are centred around Italy’s history text-wise, these heroes naturally fixed upon the ancient glory of Rome, their historical lessons wrapped in a pretty suitable musical accompaniment, the emphasis in this case being on the good old speed metal, the Roman legions and centvrions not fussing around, marching into battle under the sound of blazing guitars and thundering drums. Victory is surely at hand, maybe even if having to fight the old rivals the Scalas themselves, when the route is so well paved, with all surprises taken care of… the second Pax Romana spell is cheerfully looming on the horizon.