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TRACK LIST: 1. Le Ossa E il Fuoco 3.08 2. Terza Profezia 4.35 3. Voci Dal Profondo 3.57 4. Antichi Messaggi 6.45 5. Anima Vagante 5.25 6. Fiamma Dello Spirito 4.33 7. Mondo Parallelo 7.39 8. Un Mondo Che Non C’E’ Piu 4.06 LINEUP: Tony Tears – guitar, bass; keyboards; vocals Lorenzo Mapelli – drums
Prolusion. Hailing from Genoa (Italy), multi-instrumentalist TONY TEARS is a former member of Gothic/doom metal band Abysmal Grief, as well as Gothic/electronic outfits Helden Rune and Runes Order. His debut full-length album, “Voci Dal Passato”, follows the 2007 release of a two-track demo, titled “All My Black”.
Analysis. A word of warning before I get into the thick of my review: do not listen to this album if you are depressed, because it might very well make things worse. Though the music displayed on “Voci Dal Passato” may not be the most depressing on the market, it is definitely not uplifting, and not particularly exciting to boot. As the cover artwork (vaguely reminiscent of the style of William Blake, a favourite artist in the metal world) and the photos that grace the booklet (some of them taken in a cemetery – no surprises here) point out, this is one of those albums which seem to brood morbidly on humankind’s mortality, with particular attention to the topic of ghosts – a perfectly legitimate topic for any kind of art, but hardly a new one, especially when sounding as contrived and cliched as it does here. Rather minimalistic in its approach, the album is sure to appeal to fans of the likes of Jacula and Antonius Rex, with its heavy emphasis on keyboards and chant-like vocals. As a matter of fact, there is an evident tribute to Jacula in the title of one of the instrumental tracks, Fiamma Dello Spirito (stage name of Doris Norton, Antonio Bartoccetti’s partner). The vocals are all in Italian, which is a bit at odds with the chilly nature of the music, though Tony Tears’ monotone is instead quite a perfect fit. Interestingly, both the artist’s stage name (I have not been able to find any information on his real identity) and the picture included in the CD booklet point very clearly to a worship of Black Sabbath, especially as regards the band’s iconic, extremely influential guitarist, Tony Iommi (incidentally, also of Italian descent). His vocals, at times spoken rather than sung, are way too thin and lacking in the dramatic potential that this kind of music would require. Based on the build-up of atmospheres rather than on complex textures, the music’s monotonous plodding more often than not overstays its welcome. It would actually be quite difficult to single out any particular tracks for analysis, since they all tend to sound the same – definitely not helped by the flat, tinny production. Though the liner notes are anything but informative, “Voci Dal Passato” appears to be a concept album based on the belief in ghosts – as borne out by the pictures that accompany the lyrics. The latter are quite at odds with the music, and the overall effect is clumsy and annoying rather than genuinely disturbing. Musically speaking, most of the songs featuring vocals seem to have a common theme, while the instrumentals are based on riffs that suggest the tolling of funeral bells, backed by steadily droning keyboards and the inevitable church organ. Unfortunately, while the intent is that of creating a haunting atmosphere, the overall effect is just repetitive, and ultimately boring. The album’s closing track, Un Mondo Che Non C’E’ Piu, has slightly higher artistic aspirations than most of the disc, but in the end it comes across as simplistic and hackneyed (cue the faint recorded voices in the background, probably meant to represent restless souls). As harsh as it may sound, one of the few saving graces of “Voci Dal Passato” is its running time – at under 40 minutes, at least it avoids turning into something seriously unbearable. Grating and devoid of variety most of the time, with a negligible sprinkling of marginally more interesting moments, it might have been intriguing if it had been realized in a more professional manner, instead of turning into a compendium of all the clich?s of the genre.
Conclusion. Sounding very much like an amateur production (perhaps deliberately so), “Voci Dal Passato” might appeal to hardcore fans of stripped-down doom metal – but to very few other people outside that restricted milieu. A very disappointing effort indeed.
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