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Familiar sounds at an anonymous rendezvous. - 82%

hells_unicorn, December 20th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2014, Digital, Independent

Though presently a newly popular darling of the symphonic power metal world and a sister of the growing coalition represented by Inner Wound Records, the story of Italy's Kalidia has a few forgotten chapters in the obscure annals of yesteryear. Originally billing themselves as Neverwing and covering all the obligatory classics of their adopted style in the late 2000s, the crossover into more creative ventures proved to be a gradual one, as is often the case with a number of tribute bands that have re-branded themselves as contributing members of a stylistic revival. After a few years of honing their abilities as composers, a very modest independent release of a fairly ambitious throwback to the pioneering female-fronted side of the millennial power metal revolution in 2014's Lies' Device was born, sporting a variety of familiar traits to anyone who remembers the late 90s from the stripped down and somewhat distant sounding production quality to the "Eyes Wide Shut" inspired art work that adorns the album's cover. To say that this was a somewhat different band from the one that most became familiarized with early this year would be an understatement, though the older style presented here is not wholly alien to what recently occurred on The Frozen Throne.

This is perhaps not a full on throwback in every sense given that the production here is a bit cleaner than some of the early 2000s offerings it emulates, but subtle mixing nuances aside, it is pretty easy to spot the commonalities that this album shares with seminal offerings such as Nightwish's Oceanborn, Visions Of Atlantis' Eternal Endless Infinity and Oratory's Beyond Earth. Things kick off in truly triumphant form with the keyboard-drenched speeder of an anthem "The Lost Mariner", with its noodling guitar and keyboard work and soaring, Pat Benatar-inspired vocals all but warping the casual passerby back to 2002 and wondering what part of the moon the shipwrecked briggins ended up (casual reference to the aforementioned Oratory album). Similarly fast-paced and fun filled adventures into the glory days of the power metal revival of 12 years before such as "Black Magic" and "Winged Lords" also hit the nostalgia button quite hard, and also feature a similar dichotomy between the lead guitar work and keyboard work with the latter having a technical edge over the former that was all over the Visions Of Atlantis debut, though featuring an overtly less operatic vocal delivery courtesy of Nicoletta Rosellini, who sounds about the same at this juncture as she does now.

Maybe the most charming aspect of this album is the consistency in atmosphere that permeates every song, be they speedy or more moderately paced, which conveys a sense of longing and lofty adventures lying beyond the horizon. Some songs feature a greater degree of epic grandeur than others naturally, with the slow-paced gallop meets beauty and the beast vocal duet cliche of Nightwish when Marco Hietala joined their ranks in "Harbinger Of Serenity" being the arguable peak of the musical summit. Etherna's Andrea Racco's throaty, over the top male foil to Rosellini's semi-pop infused angelic voice fits this mold almost too well, and brings a sense of rapidity and power to a song that is otherwise on the slower side of things. The swinging riff work and less than subtle nod to Sabbath's "Children Of The Grave" with a symphonic gloss in "In Black And White" also brings on the 2002 Nightwish vibes something fierce and the guest solo provided by Alessandro Lucatti, also of Etherna (probably regular touring mates of Kalidia at this point and time), finds a highly expressive climax point to close off what is a solid showing for a 2014 album that listens like something from more than a decade prior.

The only real flaw to speak of in this otherwise consistently solid walk down memory lane is that these songs tend to run together and the primary hooks often don't cut in as deep and hold on as tightly as the original classics that it is seeking to emulate. The slow paced ballad "Shadow Will Be Gone" is one of the more classic examples of a song that relies a bit too heavily on familiar ideas while simultaneously failing to nail that needed sweet spot. It is by no means a bad ballad by any stretch, but it's no "Forever Yours" or "Sleeping Sun" either. The same basic story dogs the harder hitting title song "Lies' Device", which is clearly going for the mid-paced, epic bluster of "Bless The Child" with a riff set somewhat indicative of "Wanderlust", but doesn't quite capture the magic of either. All the same, any power metal consumer looking for a consistent batch of melodically consonant and beautifully sung anthems of passion and adventure could do a lot worse than an album like this. It doesn't outclass the classics, nor does it top many of the astounding more modernized feats of 2014 out of bands like Xandria and Amberian Dawn, but it is a pretty sizable cut above what many of the original pioneers have been putting out for the past several years.