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(45:02 / '2L Music')
TRACK LIST: 1. Courage & Fear 7:57 2. Hurricane Scream 5:18 3. Unbearable 4:31 4. Poll 6:06 5. Savage 5:00 6. The Last Hours 5:54 7. My Enemy 7:25 8. Ghost In My Mouth 5:49 LINEUP: Raffaello Indri - guitars Camillo Calleluori - drums Alessandro Seravalle - bass; vocals Rudy Berginc - lead vocals
Prolusion. Italian quartet BURNIN' DOLLS presents their first official CD "Courage & Fear" - a really fully-fledged successor to their demo EP "Surgical Doll" from three years ago. Please take a note: the first three musicians in the lineup above are permanent members of Garden Wall whose new album, "Aliena(c)tion", should be available from Mellow Records within the next few months.
Analysis. Unlike Garden Wall where Alessandro Seravalle is boss, it's Raffaello Indri who is the songsmith for Burnin' Dolls. In short, while there is some common ground between the music of these projects, that similarity can only be traced on a structural level and is so remote in the final analysis that it would be stupid to assert that the 'dolls' follow in the footsteps of the 'walls'. Coming to the point: "Courage & Fear" is a set of eight uncompromising, ultra-heavy songs without a single ballad-like opus among them, after listening to which even an ignoramus will be convinced that the rock charts are definitely not part of the band's scenario. The lead vocals are strong, but are much in the style of original Fates Warning singer John Arch throughout, though precisely half of the tracks, Poll, Savage, The Last Hours and Ghost In My Mouth, are generally in many ways close to that kind of elaborated, high-technical guitar Prog-Metal which Fates Warning first presented on their milestone release, "Awaken the Guardian". However the Dolls occasionally deploy doom-metal and thrash structures, besides which their use of counterpoint melodies, in conjunction with their passion for complex odd meters, can at times be as exciting as Psychotic Waltz on their most eclectic album "A Social Grace", this remark being relevant regarding all the other yet-to-be-named tracks as well. On Hurricane Scream and Unbearable, the band goes for the most part doomy, yet not in the least less progressive than on the aforesaid four tunes. Furthermore, these two are free of any obvious influences, so I will name some references just to give you a general idea of them. Combining maniacally heavy guitar work, some truly mind-blowing guitar, bass and drum (yeah) solos and two strongly contrasting vocals, both suggest the unruly energy of Black Sabbath's "Born Again", the hypnotism of "Ancient Dreams" by Candlemass, the elegancy of "A Sense of Change" by Sieges Even and the complexity of the same Psychotic Waltz's "A Social Grace", all delivered in one bag. The longest two songs, the title track and My Enemy, are at the same time the most diverse ones, bringing together all the aforesaid directions, plus NWBHM and some extreme Metal-related styles. Both are remarkable, but since on the former the NWBHM component too patently hints of Hellowen's "Keeper of the Seven Keys-II", the latter is certainly closer to my heart. It also must be noted that none of the songs is vocally monochromatic - thanks to Alessandro's very solid 'chameleonic' capabilities. Apart from playing bass, Seravalle only appears as a second singer on this recording, but he nevertheless strongly diversifies the album's overall palette, besides which his vocals here don't in the least resemble those in Garden Wall. Yet, I just want to say "Courage & Fear" would have sounded way original if Alessandro were alone behind the microphone.
Conclusion. While the songs are usually extremely hard, all three of the instrumentalists play with so much complexity and expression alike that I am sure no one into heavy progressive music will remain cold to "Courage & Fear". While not a complete masterpiece, due to its somewhat derivative nature, this is still an excellent, very interesting album that takes some few listens to search out all of its many hidden nuances. Sincerely recommended.
VM: May 1, 2007
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