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Not quite ready to heal the world, but very close! - 84%

Octavarium64, May 24th, 2011

Some bands' originality is immediately evident, while others are equally distinctive but take time to understand and appreciate. Among the most prolific Italian musicians, Daniele Liverani is renowned for accessible, diverse music that can still be classified under a specific genre; the sound of Twinspirits is easy to pinpoint on one level, but unusually difficult on the next. It was for this reason that it took me many listens to understand Twinspirits' music and their approach to the progressive metal genre.

Me having been introduced to Liverani by 2009's The Forbidden City, 2007's The Music That Will Heal the World is easily ignored in the pile of albums this enthusiastic composer has released despite its intention, to craft "an experience that really can break through in the progressive music world!" Though written and controlled nearly exclusively by Liverani, Twinspirits is clearly committed to making a difference, and despite their debut's immaturity and obvious room for improvement, their unique raw talent and zest for creating some great music remains in full force.

Reviewing this band has always been harder than it seems. Despite Twinspirits being among the easiest prog bands to listen to, their musical interplay is intricately constructed and focused around contrast and interchanging of main themes. The five musicians on this recording have wide-ranging personalities: Danish singer Søren Adamsen's raw tenor seems almost like he was randomly picked off the street and happened to have a great voice, guitarist Tommy Ermolli and keyboardist Daniele Liverani are the obvious experts as these musicians have easily arrived at their unique sound, and the rhythm section of drummer Dario Ciccioni and bassist Alberto Rigoni rests comfortably in the middle and on their way to discovering their personalities. The contrast between experience and youth is lucidly reflected in the sum total of Twinspirits' musical output.

Much of this band's progressive credit is not because they play particularly challenging music, but because they attempt unusual ideas and arrange them in different ways; either single or multiple ideas explored at length within single songs, or a progression of different sounds across an album. Twinspirits challenge a listener to broaden their horizons and look at what each individual song contributes to the big picture. The music that The Music That Will Heal the World (obvious redundancy is obvious) has to offer ranges from the metallic punch and vocals of Power to Kill to the catchier melodic rock of Back to Reality and Fire, moody ballad What You Want and dramatic shifts in both purely prog metal pieces (Take My Hand) and mellower tracks (It's Just Life). Each song is focused on a specific lyrical theme or idea, covering issues from sociological ills such as war to personal exploration and divisions in human relationships, but every one of them has a cure: music! The 12-minute title track is highly impressive in its use of a somewhat simplistic, syncopated rhythm guitar with changing modulations throughout over half the song's total duration, which absolutely shines with passion. The vocals are a particular standout, as Søren shows he cares about the lyrical message: a highly optimistic statement of the power of music, the universal language that speaks to every human. Taken literally, this is a powerful mission statement. This is one of my favorite pieces of music about music and my favorite song of these nine; the keyboard solos are definitely among the finest moments of this album.

Twinspirits know that this mission requires a listener to remember what they have learned and aims for progressive metal filled with instantly memorable motifs that traverse several different musical styles and can be extended for fairly long periods; these missions mostly succeed quite well. The keyboards from Daniele Liverani maintain his signature style of catchy piano melodies, extensive use of the instrument’s alien high range and underplayed but dramatic synths, and since he also plays other instruments, his touches also show up on those. Hard rock has always been the number one non-metal influence in Twinspirits, and Tommy Ermolli's guitar riffs such as the ones that open Back to Reality and Take My Hand are often quite fat slabs of rock, played with careful precision, class and melodic sense such that I wonder how he played them. Clean guitar takes the lead in What You Want, with Søren showing the only trace of metal, and carries along a dark, bluesy tint which allows the sorrowful atmosphere to breathe. Rigoni adds in plenty of haunting high-tuned glissandos and completes the picture as he typically does in Twinspirits; this is a definite album highlight. Drummer Dario Ciccioni favors a more straightforward, tight rock style at this point in his career, but does let loose from time to time; the brutal stomp of Power to Kill features plenty of double bass and an excellent polyrhythmic jam in the middle, showing off the "human engine" he is advertised as. The main drum beat Ciccioni uses in the 10-minute Understand alongside Tommy’s pulsating back-and-forth riffage is quite memorable.

All the ingredients are in place for a great new sound, but all is not perfectly well in Padua at this point; this album gives off the impression that it's indeed a debut and that, though Twinspirits is absolutely headed in the right direction (if I had heard this first, despite its great rating, I would have known the second CD would be better), the mission isn't quite fully realized yet and just needs more time to mature. The production is raw and very trebly, with the slightest hint of buzz to the guitars, while the drum kit sounds rather hollow. While the imperfect production helps to make this record what it is, it’s a bit too unpolished; the end result is that this CD feels incompletely like a progressive metal album, even though it is. I enjoy bands that push the envelope of their genres, but there's room to make this more recognizable as a prog metal album without losing that quality.

The technical skills displayed are sufficiently prog and restraint is quite prominent, but on such a long album (70 minutes) where many themes occupy extended durations, it feels overly restrained; the complete picture could have been slightly improved by more technicality that could create distinctly unique sections rather than dropping into the familiar somewhat too often. It's not that the music here has been heard before - it only sounds like Twinspirits - but that it's been heard before within the album context. Track seven Fire is seven minutes long, has a great main theme and quite infectious chorus, but all but about 60 seconds of the entire track include the main melody in some form and the chorus is repeated five times. Because Twinspirits promotes melody and memorability, I would not say that anything like this is a particularly large issue since nothing even gets that old, but the compositions also don't progress as much as they could.

Søren Adamsen's voice fits Twinspirits quite well, but similarly there is small room for improvement: though his melodic side is pretty much beyond criticism, he attempts to extend his range with harder vocals that source from his metal/punk origin, and are not always appropriate. Power to Kill shows him almost growling; I'm used to it by now, as Adamsen can definitely carry the lyrics about humanity's habit of destroying the planet and themselves. Søren's aggression matches this song, but in other locations it could have been more carefully thought out: they are often used in locations such as tracks 3 and 8 when they don’t work as well, and track 2 shows that these are largely unnecessary. Replacement Göran Nyström is more technically capable and advances the same amicable, flexible "musical" (Daniele) quality that Twinspirits needs for its vocalist.

Even with flaws such as this, The Music That Will Heal the World has its own bright charm that will always sound different from the band's later work (I just couldn’t see Göran singing these songs even if he’s a better vocalist), which makes me want to return to it again and be happy reviewing Liverani's music. 2007 was a great year for prog metal even if there weren't as many entries or outright classics as 2009, as there were many impressively solid albums from bands such as Spheric Universe Experience, Darkwater, Myrath and Circus Maximus that Twinspirits is easily able to enjoy the company of. Rating this among these was very difficult, as it drops right between the highest 4 and lowest 4.5 on a Sputnikmusic scale (this was originally written there). Then again, 2009 would also see the Italians move to an even higher level...