With names like PSYCROPTIC, NEATH, PORTAL, SARSEKIM, NAZXUL, BANE OF ISILDUR, and VOYAGER, my hopeless man-crush on the Aussie Metal scene is set to continue unabated for quite some time, and my recent discovery of LACRYMAE has done nothing but affirm my admiration for the country’s awesome metal talent.
No, they don’t sound anything like the abovementioned bands, and come to think of it they don’t really sound ‘Australian’ at all – their brand of epic Symphonic/Classical Metal would have you assume they’re from Italy or Finland, but no, these guys hail from Perth, one of the most isolated cities in the world. Their barren surroundings must be an excellent breeding ground for creativity ‘cos the music on “The Hallowed Design” is simply beyond words. You’ll hear traces of NIGHTWISH, SYMPHONY X, MERCENARY, and VIRGIN BLACK on here, but when all is said and done these guys are onto a sound all their own. The music is highly symphonic and orchestral, so much so that I’d classify it as Metal-influenced Classical rather than the other way around. Somewhere the ghost of Wagner is headbanging.
It’s difficult to pull off this kind of thing in a pretence-free manner, but these guys have nailed it. The sound is huge and enveloping, the guitar tone just hefty enough to provide tasteful counterpoint to the symphonic embellishments, and the dual vocal harmonies of the classically trained Piscitelli brothers are flawless (it’s no surprise that they won the best vocalist award at the ’09 Western Front Heavy Metal Awards). Picking individual highlights is hard since everything is so damn good, but the opening one-two combo of “The Forgotten” and “Violenza” serve as excellent examples of their song-craft. The former kicks off proceedings in a rather straightforward way (solid mid-paced Power Metal riffs) but as soon as the chorus kicks in it becomes a beast of a song, with the emotive vocals of Agostino and Francesco Piscitelli effortlessly capturing the essence of confusion and loss described in the lyrics. “Violenza” is simply brilliant in every way – the moving little guitar solo at the start, the catchy-as-hell riffs, the scorching keyboard solo, the powerful chorus, you name it. These two songs are worth the price alone, but the remainder of the EP is nothing to scoff at either, with “Handel’s Apocalypse” incorporating subtle elements of Jazz into the fold and the title track running the gamut from Power to Death/Black, all wrapped up in the dense classical blanket. The way they shift seamlessly from a harsh vocal section into a proggy harpsichord-laced bridge is simply amazing.
A lot of work has obviously gone into these songs and I have to say that it has paid off handsomely. Everything is meticulously arranged and put together like a fine watch, and from the first second to the last the songs unspool with pinpoint precision and clarity. “The Hallowed Design” is a mini-classic and I can only hope that it’s the first of many. To quote their Myspace page: this is ‘classical music you can nuke cities to’.
I concur, and so will you.
(Online December 11, 2010)