Kingcrow

Phlegeton

Written by: TL on 29/12/2010 22:32:48

While we here at Rockfreaks.net are a rather eclectic bunch of writers, combining tastes for almost everything, there are genres - like power and progressive metal - that don't get all that much love from us. It's not that we bear any particular ill will against those or any genres in general (at least not collectively), but those are, for one reason or other, simply the ones about which we are the least excited. And that's about as much of an excuse as I have, for not getting around to reviewing "Phlegeton", the debut LP of Italian prog-metallers Kingcrow, any sooner - despite the fact that it's been waiting on my harddrive for ages.

So, apologies to Kingcrow, who are a quintet from Rome, for not getting to them sooner, and also in advance, for not being as intimate with their chosen genre as we would have had you played pretty much anything else. You see KC are in many ways a rather stereotypical prog/power outfit, but while I could probably press my brain and try to remember some obscure bandnames to compare them to, I would rather speak in general terms and leave it to genre-fanatics to come up with their own references (as you can see from my vague "For The Fans Of" section below here).

The album opens with the sound of gushing waves that, fitting with the album's cover, heralds a dramatic intro which leads the listener into the album's first half, starting with "Timeshift Box", which takes mere moments to earn the band it's 'progressive' tag, doing so quite literally, as the song is one of the shorter ones on offer at only 3:47. The song is entirely instrumental, but as soon as the following "Islands" come around, singer Stefano "Thunder" Tissi comes out after hiding since a brief appearance in the intro. His voice is noticeably powerful, and his delivery reminds me of genre-greats like Dickinson, Dio and Halford. It's hard to put a finger on the man's technical ability, and his near-operatic performance is a perfect fit for the music, but it must be noted that this bombastic style is also partly what turns many casual music fans away from power metal bands other than the most commercial ones.

Leaving that as a matter of taste and turning towards the remaining four members of the band, they provide instrumentation that first seems to be as typical for the genre as can be, built around dynamic drum-work and the classical arrangement of the guitars, with one laying down massive power-chords while the other produces melodies, often of blistering complexity. You could probably have guessed as much when I started using the word 'progressive' though, and thankfully, that's not all that goes on here on "Phlegeton". Kingcrow display a will to mix things up, and by employing keys and acoustic guitars on many occasions, they embed their soundscape with periods of folk-ish, almost medieval-sounding character and in my opinion this is crucial to keeping the album an interesting and worthwhile listen.

And after having gone through the record more times than I would normally spend on more simple music, I dare say that it is just that - interesting and worthwhile. With that being said however, I'm not sure I can say that it manages to transcend my impression of it as merely a 'good album within the scope of prog metal'. As a non-follower of the genre, the record isn't characteristic or engaging enough to encourage me to getting more into either its parent band or others like it. Our editor PP often says that the best basis for reviews, is that if music or songs are truly good, then the quality will translate to any open-minded listener, regardless of what genre we're talking about. If that's the case, then "Phlegeton", while interesting, doesn't offer much in the way of memorable songs. Then again, it may be that PP's theory is wrong, and I am in fact just not appreciative enough of the merits of this genre to fully recognize its qualities. Whether one or the other is the case however, reviewing "Phlegeton" has fallen to me, and I'll leave it for you to decide how much my grade reflects that:

7

Download: Evasion
For The Fans Of: ambitious, progressive, well-recorded heavy metal.. with a dash of folk
Listen: myspace.com/kingcrowband

Release Date 17.05.2010
Scarlet Records

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