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Setanera - New Era

Setanera -CD Review
New Era

New Era



CD Info
7HARD Records
11 Tracks
English & Italian Lyrics

A few years ago, when I was writing for another metal zine, I came across this band from Italy called Setanera, who at the time had put out a pretty neat little EP with four tracks on it that really impressed me.  The EP was entitled Spettralia, and I rated it pretty high because I thought that the band had put in a solid effort with it and I thought there was a lot of strengths and potential in their sound.  That was, I believe, 2011.  Four years later, Setanera is back with a new album called New Era, and I feel quite validated in my thinking that they were something special, because this most recent release is again very strong and shows that their hard work over the intervening years has paid off. 

Spettralia was a great EP hands down.  With New Era, we see a more mature Setanera with a more highly polished, more highly produced sound, which is great to see from a small band who probably don't have the hugest budget in the world.  The title track, which starts the album off, "New Era", was a good choice of introductory songs because, as a first track should do for an album, it gives the listener some foreshadowing of things to come on the CD, and it is key in establishing the tone, quality, and first overall impression of the band's sound.  "New Era" introduces us to the highly melodic, keyboard-centric aspects of Setanera's direction, along with its nods to the symphonic power metal genre. Also, for those who didn't hear Spettralia, you'll be introduced to Valentina, the voice of the band.  She's got some great vocal chops and is one of the many strengths Setanera has.

Of the eleven tracks on the album, four of them are revamped versions of the four songs that made up the EP.  It's always interesting to compare old and new versions of songs when a band includes older songs on a newer release.  I am happy to say that Setanera did not take a lazy approach to these songs and just cut and paste them onto New Era; they took the time to re-produce them into something stronger and better than their originals.  For instance, the song "Spettralia", which was one of my faves on the EP, has been seriously beefed up in its new version and has a much fuller bodied sound, more symphonic elements, and some nice vocal embellishments that totally elevated the song to new heights.  I really liked what they did with "Lies" as well, which was similarly beefed up and embellished.  "Journey to the Freedom" was tightened up and shortened by a few seconds, and "Black River", another one of my faves from the EP, has been given a new life with some subtle, edgy growliness and some nice vocal harmonies. 

As I was mentioning, the melodic-ness, to totally make up a word here, of Setanera's sound is a very strong element they have worked on in the last few years, and it's paid off.  Keyboardist Alessio Contorni does an excellent job on this album to say the least.  I liked the tone of the synths used predominantly on the album; I don't know how to describe them, unfortunately, but you get a great sense of them in that, again, all-important first song on the album.  He is also responsible for the orchestral arrangements, and he did a great job.

In terms of song writing, Setanera proves that it has the talent to put together a full-length album full of strongly composed material.  They have really catchy melodies and choruses, and I like how they vary the pace of their music quite a bit, not only from song to song but also within songs.

This album has a few songs in Italian, and one in both English and Italian.  I generally like the sound of the Italian language, and I appreciate the band's decision to have a release that includes songs performed in their native tongue.  I think some of the strongest songwriting in terms of catchiness and emotion is contained in those songs, in fact.  I don't know what they are about because I don't speak the language, but there is always something special about a band belting out tunes in it's mother tongue.

Like I said above, Valentina is a great vocalist, and I can definitely hear improvements in her technique and range in this album, which was another highlight.  This became evident in the second song, "Bring Me Back" and in the ballad "I Must Forgive You", where she conveys great emotion and sensitivity.  While the keys are definitely a very strong characteristic of Setanera's sound, a shout out also needs to go to the other instruments as well.  Alex Merola does a fine job on guitars, and Henry Sandri (bass) and Dario Di Pasquale (drums) keep the band's lower end heavy and headbang-able (to totally make up another word).

So congratulations to Setanera for putting out a great effort with New Era!  I am once again impressed with their sound and their songs, and I hope everyone goes and checks them out because they certainly deserve some attention.