Out now on SPV/Steamhammer

Artlantica are a new outfit from Artension members guitarist Roger Staffelbach and vocalist John West, along with keyboardist Mistheria, drummer John Macaluso and guests – Steve DiGiorgio [Bass], Dani Löble [Drums] and Chris Caffery [Guitars].   The observant amongst you will notice half the line-up is that from Staffelbach’s previous outfit Angel Of Eden who released the strong album  “The End Of Never” a few years ago.

Stylistically Artlantica straddle the same musical ground as Angel of Eden and Artension, on occasions to the point that some of the tracks do sound like blantant rewrites (Fight For The Light and Demon In My Mind particularly) , I’d also question why this wasn’t released under the Angel Of Eden moniker too.

Ultimately what we get on “Across The Seventh Seas” though is rather, dare I say it, “safe” melodic neo-classically tinted power metal.  Expect plenty of guitar chugging and appropriately timed synth hits from Maestro Mistheria and double bass hits. It all sounds meticulously constructed and therein lays the issue that it all comes across as too pre-planned and lacking in a spontaneous edge.

Granted, John West can still belt out a tune when he wants too and Staffelbach is as prestigious as ever on guitar but you do get the feeling the band are in their comfort zone a lot of the time with the material missing the energy and zeal of early Artension.

So overall a mixed bag of strong musical performances mixed with an average set of songs.  The production is powerful and all instruments are mixed well, but when its all said and done I really wanted to like this album, yet I feel somewhat disappointed by the end product.

Rating – 70%


Out now on Ice Warrior Records

Italialian guitarist Tommy Vitaly is perhaps best known for his work with power metal band Seven Gates, yet has stepped out on his own for “Just Me”, a neo-classically inspired slice of metal. Backed up by some impressive names in vocalist Thomas Vikström (Stormwind), drummer Rhino (ex Manowar), bassist Andrea Torricini (ex Vision Divine) and some guest keyboard solos from Vitalij Kuprij (Artension, TSO) and Mistheria (solo, Rob Rock) the omens look good.

Unfortunately the hype suggested by the personnel is never really lived up to. The first thing to hit you is a poor mix which sees clipping on the bass guitar and bass drums and a very narrow sound spectrum. When the guitar is a dominant force like it is in neo-classical metal this has better be good, yet Tommy’s tone lacks harmonic content and depth and is as bland as dry toast.

On the song front vocalist Thomas Vikström screeches his way through the formulaic “Fly High Touch The Sky” which is home to every stock power metal motif in the book and sounds like a bad Helloween cover band truth be told. The other vocal track, “Ready To Die” fares a little better but once again the song writing is generic with a repetitive chorus that never really sells itself and on the whole its nothing special.  The instrumental side of things does fare better with “Storm Of Fire” being Malmsteen-esque in approach and the anthemic “Finally Free” showing off a nice melody. “The Fury” does what it says and is high in energy and showcases that Tommy can play having some nice unison runs with Kuprij.

Overall a fairly average debut, Tommy can play though and hopefully the quality control in production will be higher and the song writing will showcase more originality next time round.

Rating – 60%