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MasterCastle - Dangerous Diamonds
CD Reviews
Written by Doctor T.   
Saturday, 24 March 2012
MasterCastle - CD Review
Dangerous Diamonds
MasterCastle - Dangerous Diamonds

 

CD Info

2011

Lion Muisc / Finland

11 Tracks

English Lyrics

 

MasterCastle is from Italy. Of that, I’m pretty sure. Beyond that, I’m not too sure. They’re either a power metal, heavy metal, melodic metal or neo-classic metal band, I’m not sure which. But one thing’s for sure, they’re a metal band. And, a fairly prolific one at that; this is their third release in the past three years, now that’s definitely kicking out the music. The band is, essentially, a three piece unit, with the guitars being handled by one of the more solid axe men in the business, one Pier Gonella. This is the basis of the sound, some crushing riffs from a solid metal musician, one who’s not averse to kicking your ass with sounds to shake the foundations of a bomb shelter. Beyond that are the vocals, provided by the devastating Italian vocalist Giorgia Gueglio. I’m not sure which I like best, listening to her or watching her perform. And that can probably be said for the entire band. I didn’t find a live performance with material from this release, but in this video from a previous release, you get some ideas regarding the visual appeal of the band, which is considerable. Girl’s a looker, ain’t she. The third full time member of the band is bass player Steve Vawamas while drums are handled here by a session man. But, it all comes together with a pretty solid metal sound, one that covers a range of deliveries with a focus on the harder guitar sounds. However, the vocals are similarly solid, and they have a little more flexibility to them than what we might expect from a band like this. You actually get a couple ballad like sounds, actually some of the best material on the product. And, there are some that might be considered in between, not as hard, but hard enough and with a truly interesting vocal line. And, finally, we get one track that is a fully instrumental offering, one that includes some keyboard sounds in introduction and broadens the focus to include a range of techniques, including some really interesting commentary from the vocalist, not sung, more like "released". It’s a highlight, metal but metal with a different focus. So, what we have here is a nice range of music, all performed at a high level and produced and mixed at an equally high level.

Clearly, the highlights here are the ripping guitars and the vocals. Which, one might assume, could limit the material. I mean, with symphonic Gothic, we tend to get a far broader potential for musical diversity. This music, being, in my humble opinion, more power metal oriented, seems to date back to music that originally developed during the 80s. Now, having been there, at least physically if not mentally, I can tell you a lot of it began to sound somewhat stale after a few decades, or maybe it was just me coming off a 30 year artificially induced high. So I don’t typically get into this type of music all that much. But here, the attractions are such that we actually feel a "newness" to the sound. I suspect much of that comes from the vocal. This being a "female fronted" site, you wouldn’t necessarily expect a reviewer to be all that impressed by just another female vocal, especially a reviewer like me who favors the operatic. But what we get here is such a diverse vocal, such an outstanding vocal, that it puts a relatively new slant to the idea of power metal. I know there are other power metal bands out there, especially in America, but few have impressed me like this one. And maybe that’s one of the reasons why MasterCastle seems to be doing as well as they are in the US. I know there isn’t a lot of interest in many of the other fine European power metal bands here; this one just seems to tap into the American musical listening taste.

At its core, there is that solid guitar work which is featured, at one level or another, on pretty much every cut. Gonella is a fret mechanic and, from what I’ve read, much of the music comes from an early sound from the guitars that is then interpreted vocally by Gueglio. One could anticipate bumps in the road with this approach but the results appear to be seamless productions with the two artists meshing complimentary styles into a unified whole. Gestalt, doncha know. And one of the more interesting developments from that approach is the interpretation of the message from the lyrics, there are some interesting themes here and they are interpreted both instrumentally and vocally with a high degree of correlation. That’s interesting given the approach to musical development. But, it’s also a measure of the emotion coming from those vocals, Gueglio appears to be a master at this technique, her emotional interpretations are spot on and truly wonderful to hear. This is especially true on the ballad tracks, Lovin’ Me, for instance. Here we get one of the more beautiful sounds you’re going to hear in this type of music. Gueglio provides a haunting sound you just wouldn’t expect based on what you heard from the previous tracks. The background doesn’t deviate from that prog metal sound, but the beauty of the song is largely reflected from the vocal, even though there is the requisite guitar riff in the middle to remind you where you live. Gueglio makes it clear she can do a variety of sounds and handle them flawlessly. A great track.

The title track, Dangerous Diamonds is probably more representative of the sound here. It begins with a savage guitar riff leading to some kick ass double kick drums. The bass is working overtime as we set the stage for the vocals, which come on like an F-18 at catapult launch. The guitars are dangerous, the vocals are dangerous, the song is dangerous and the lyrics make sure they stay that way.

CLARITY CARAT AND CUT
FIRE RINGS NECKLACE AND STAR
APPEARANCE ALWAYS DECEIVES

The double interpretation is clear and nicely developed as the song continues. This approach, the crushing guitars leading to the driving vocals drive much of the CD. The opening track is Another Flower and we see a similar approach, with similarly satisfying results. Here the tale talks to the devastation of love, the hopelessness that so often accompanies our attractions:

A DREAM CAN KILL
WHEN THERE ‘S ONLY ONE WILL
A DREAM CAN KILL
IF THERE ‘S ONLY ONE KISS
KEEPING THE HOPE
THERE IS NOTHING TO STEAL
BUT THE LOVE

One of the more interesting tracks from a lyrical perspective is Au Premier Coup. It’s not as hard musically, one of those middle of the road types. Here the guitars serve up a pounding background sound, one that drives the vocals while not taking so much of the spotlight. The song concerns Italian painter Bruno Galbiati (1932-1992) and the music is developed to reflect the art of the well-known Italian. Again, the lyrics paint a musical picture that captures the essence of the artist:

WINDOWS ON REALITY / YOUR MIND IS A BIRD
THAT FLY AGAINST THE WIND / FREEDOM DON’T COME EASILY
FOR WHO FIGHT / FOR HIS FAMILY
PAINTING THE RAGE AND THE LANDS / WHERE YOU’VE BEEN IN YOUR FANTASY
MONEY DON’T COME EASILY / FOR WHO LIVES WITH HONESTY

Time 4 Lovers is another of those ballad sounds, this one again approaching the beautiful, but a beautiful with that signature pounding guitar that drives the music forward like a Midwestern tornado. The song talks lyrically about a short term love affair taking place on a train between Paris and Berlin. Musically, the track captures the bands ability to do something lovely, while still providing their signature killer guitar, a nice coexistence that seems to exemplify the MasterCastle sound.

If you’re into the prog metal sound, and who among us isn’t, at least to some extent, this will be a comfortable romp for you. Killer guitar, solid vocals, interesting themes, and with an Italian accent sung by an Italian beauty. How can you go wrong?

9.5 / 10

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