Italy has had its fair share of lighter Power Metal bands, perhaps even more so than Finland, which has had a delightful mixture of lightness and aggression. There hasn’t been too much intermingling between the two sounds except perhaps in that they both will take occasions to employ symphonic elements. But there is definitely a distinct Finnish sound that is somewhat darker and more melancholy, even when looking at keyboard and vocals oriented bands such as CELESTY and SONATA ARCTICA. 4TH DIMENSION is a slight departure from the typical Italian Symphonic band in that they share more in common with said Finnish bands than with the likes of RHAPSODY OF FIRE or LABYRINTH.
“The White Path Of Rebirth”, which is a fairly esoteric title for a debut album by a band of this mold, pretty well captures that speedy and super-catchy character with a slight progressive edge heard on “Legacy Of Hate” and “Mortal Mind Creation”. The overall character is very consonant and pristine, spearheaded by a crystal clear production job that is somewhat in line with albums from the early 2000s. Vocalist Andrea Bicego has a somewhat atypically soft and smooth croon to his voice, at times getting a little too quiet during some of the ballad areas and sounding almost like a whispered narration. In many ways, this could be seen as a homage to the band’s namesake, ergo the first STRATOVARIUS album with Koltipelto in the lead vocal slot, and there are a few quirky electronic gimmicks to make the comparison all the more viable.
On the whole, this band is at its best when it keeps things reasonably up tempo and loud. While the extended Techno-like intro hangs on a bit long, “The Sun In My Life” really brings home that triumphant yet somewhat cold character of 90s STRATOVARIUS quite nicely. The band then kicks things up a notch further in the tempo department with “Consigned To The Wind” and “A New Dimension”, both of them drawing upon the more Symphonic tendencies of CELESTY, and in the case of the latter offers up a vocal display almost as operatic as Fabio Lione. Comparison’s to RHAPSODY OF FIRE with regards to these songs is perhaps somewhat plausible, but the character of these songs is a bit more guitar and drum heavy and not quite as reliant on a massive orchestral backdrop.
When things are taken down a tinge from the thunderous Speed Metal meshed with 80s keyboard oriented Heavy Metal, things generally stay on the up and up. There’s a solid assortment of moderately fast cookers that offer up a nice crunchy set of riffs and easy keyboard ambiences in “Sworn To The Flame” and “Labyrinth Of Glass” which conjure up some images of early 2000s era DARK MOOR when Elise Martin was still at the helm. The only place where this album really falls short and becomes awkward is the closing ballad, which features Bicego getting way too restrained in his vocal performance and all but whispering through the microphone while the piano carries the song.
Amongst the rather wide array of solid renditions of classic Power Metal being put out this year, this is a pretty solid, though somewhat green offering. It’s extremely catchy and sure to please anyone who likes fast metal that you can sing along with, but it’s a bit too heavily reliant on electronics and occasionally crosses that threshold that LUCA TURILLI touched the edges of with “Prophet Of The Last Eclipse”. But anyone who goes for the more keyboards heavy Finnish variant of the style should like this, particularly those who liked the three albums CELESTY put out with Antti Railio still leading the pack. It’s as clear as the flurries of an early winter, and about as heavy.
(Online April 28, 2011)