Thursday, January 25, 2018

Album Review: Lione/Conti - Lione/Conti

First, 2017 brought the return of Alpha Romeo to American shores, and now 2018 brings us an Italian version of the famed Allen/Lande project. What's gotten into them over there? For this one, we take the original singer of Rhapsody, and add in the singer who replaced him when that band fractured into two. The history of that band is a bit confusing, and not at all something I care to revisit. It does, hoever, make for an easy pairing of the two vocalists, although there is an issue that I'll get to later. Add in songs written by the mastermind of DGM, and you get an Italian experience all around. But when those other names are brought up as a comparison, will this one be able to live up to those expectations?

Listening to the opening number, "Ascension", it's clear where this album's inspiration lies. The track's construction is straight from those first two Allen/Lande record, which is a sound more than welcome. Those records are classics of the form, and it's refreshing to hear that this didn't turn out to be a DGM record with different vocalists.

The songs here are fine power metal, with big melodies for the singers to flex their muscles on. Tracks like "You're Falling" have the cinematic scope of the best Allen/Lande classics, right down to the big, melodic guitar solos. That's the kind of power metal that's done so well people who scoff at 'flower metal' won't be able to find anything to gripe about. It isn't just melodic and heavy, but also classy. That's not something we get to say all that often, but it's a sense that permeates this album. This is a quite mature take on the genre.

But there is one issue I have with this album. The Allen/Lande albums, or the Kiske/Somerville albums, worked because of the distinct blend of their voices. Lione and Conti are both fine singers of this style, but as one replaced the other in Rhapsody, they have strikingly similar tones. That means that unless you are a dedicated fan, which I am not, telling them apart and keeping them straight can be a bit of a challenge. This is where I feel the idea was better than the execuation. A duet album like this needs vocalists who are more different than Lione and Conti are.

That being said, the execution of the album is phenomenal. I don't know how you can listen to "Somebody Else" and not be moved by the power of the song. No, not everything on the record is at quite that level, but there's nothing here that isn't of high quality. I don't think it's as good a record as the Allen/Lande classics, or even the fourth one (which I seemed to like more than everyone else), but it's a fine addition to the canon of metal duet albums. Power metal fans should love this.

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