When you unite musicians that used to play (or still do) in bands such as LABYRINTH, SHADOWS OF STEEL or VISION DIVINE and then label the result as Power Metal, who would not think that it would turn out to be a band in the center of the said bands, playing the most typical of Italian sounds? MASTER CASTLE are one of these bands, sporting the likes of guitarist and main songwriter Pier Gonella, bassist Steve Vawamas and yet unknown singer Giorgia Gueglio.
A lady at the mic? Something in the vein of NIGHTWISH maybe? No, Power Metal pretty much hits the nail on the head, just with female vocals, and a problem. Not a good start to a review, you say? Indeed it is not and unfortunately there is more than just one problem, or rather the same problem that can be applied to several different elements of the album. On the plus side, the songs are well written and structured and opener “Words Are Swords” is a good start, with crunchy riffing, powerful drums and also a good vocal performance, but unfortunately after that things start to head south. While not being bad, it loses momentum and a lot of it sounds like I’ve heard it many times before and unfortunately Giorgia’s vocals mostly do not hold up to the opener anymore either, as she often sounds bland and too polished for her own good. Surely her voice is a nice difference to the often similar sounding ladies singing in Metal, but not all differences are almost automatically for the better.
My favourites, other than “Words Are Swords”, are the nicely playful instrumental “My Screams” and fast powerhouse “Dawn Of Promises”, where Giorgia really makes a difference for the better, but the rest of the tracks are barely enjoyable and get, dare I say, somewhat boring after a bit. “Princess Of Love” sounds like modern, fluffy Gothic Metal, while the ballads are not very enthusiastic either. So the album is not bad per se, but falls short of what it could be, as the mentioned three tracks show a lot of very enjoyable promise, three out of ten, though, is not a good ratio by any means.
So how should I end this review? That I had expected way more than this? That if they could produce an album that keeps the level of the three songs I really enjoy it would be a killer? Yeah, I guess that would be it…
(Online August 12, 2009)