Friday, May 10, 2013

Trinakrius - Seven Songs Of The Seven Sins (2013)

Over the course of 18 years, a hiatus, and numerous line-up changes - more than I could keep track of - Italian born progressive power metal band Trinakrius have never lost their focus on the prize. Festival appearances and label alliances allowed the band to expand their reach in the global metal scene, and reach out for greater notoriety. And nearly two decades after their creation, it would seem as though they have finally solidified in sound, in hopes of taking yet another stab at the industry they have been tied to. With the last round of personnel changes in 2012, it would seem that the line-up has now been secured, for the time being, and a new album has been prepared for the masses. But the question now becomes whether the mass exodus of members last year would be too much for this band to overcome. On their new album, "Seven Songs Of The Seven Sins," the band tackles the famed seven deadly sins, track by track, with a mix of styles all their own.

After a brief spoken word segment, you are greeted with something that is far too often lacking in the genre: a clear, crisp bass line drives "Pride (I Am The One)." This accent on the low end could not be more important, or more thoughtfully crafted by Francesco Rubino. With this part of the scale locked down, the instrumental can build around it, and does so with strength in replay value. It gives guitarist Emanuele Bonura freedom to roam and wander through the four-plus minute framework without being held done. The downside here, though, comes in the vocals, which struggle to match the sheer strength of the backing band. Singer Fabio Sparacello has a tremble in his voice that is endearing at times, but can give the false impression of weakness at others. His performance on "Sloth (Shelve And Delay)," however, is worthy of his lead position, delivery a soft crooning in the verse and an oepratic tone in the chorus. There is a natural groove to the way everything locks together, something that keeps your attention firmly on the track at hand. A pulsing bass line dominates "Envy (Malicious Desires)," and sets the stage for a fairly impressive progression. It is here that the first airy keyboards dart through the mix, giving depth and accent to each passage. With Alessio Romeo giving this added dimension, it turns a more basic arrangement into something more. His injections offset a weak performance from Sparacello in a nearly six minute arc.

Like all good metal albums, a moment of weakness must be offset with a moment of strength, as the band does on "Gluttony (Anorexia)." Drummer Claudio Florio bashes his cymbals into oblivion, crashing his way through fill after fill atop a solid layer of melodic guitars. The crystal clear production work is put to the test in the latter half, with a crushing breakdown bolstered by a sweeping guitar solo. As you would expect, the track "Lust (Sex Humanity)" becomes a thrashing affair complete with booming double kick drums and heavy distorted riffs. With some of the most impressive work on the album being hammered down, it does make you wonder why they chose to spread the energy out over seven minutes rather than keep it short and succinct. This isn't to say there aren't great moments in those waning minutes, but some careful editing could have cut the total run tim down by a minute or without hurting the flow. On the flip side is the brilliantly timed and layered "Greed (All Mine)," which may be the band at their very best. Numerous tempo and tone changes ignite a raging fire that would be hard to extinguish. Sparacello gives his most solid contribution here, elevating at every turn by Romeo and his synthesizers. Ending with a ballad, as the band does here with "Ira (L’Oscura Ascesa)" is often a dangerous chouice, one that can kill the lasting impression. But with the musicianship stepping up to the task, you are left with a memorable finale, one that showcases a lot of individual talents and gives everyone hope for the continuation of the story.

Through all of the missteps and stumbles along the way, Trinakrius have managed to deliver unto us a solid piece of progressive power metal that deserves repeated listens. The speed bumps they encounter - time related, mainly - can be chalked up to being overzealous, as opposed to being careless. They had a story and structure in mind, and chose to extrapolate that beyond their means. Whta is most impressive through the course of the seven tales of sin is the way each band members props up those around him. With the foundation rooted so heavily in the bass work, the other members can wander off onto their own limbs, while still remaining within arms reach of the track at large. That comes into play numerous times on the disc, and each time, they are pulled back into line for a solid finish. There are surely improvements to be made, both in the writing and vocal departments; though it would be hard to polish those any further. Regardless of where the next album chooses to go, "Seven Songs Of The Seven Sins" will always been a good benchmark for the future.


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