Screaming Shadows, the platform for Italian guitar guru Francesco Marras, returns with their fourth offering, Night Keeper. As you would expect from previous releases, the songs on the album are driven by Mr. Marras' expert fret work. But also, as usual, Marras attempts to create complete songs where he remains a player in the band. That in itself is a difficult thing for some guitar virtuosos; sure, they can shred, but can they compose a song to carry their heroics. Generally, Marras has the ability.
In the end, however, Screaming Shadows and Night Keeper remains two things: first, derivative classic melodic heavy/power metal and, second, the stage for Marras' guitar work. Early, Night Keeper is largely dull. The opener rattles your metal cage with pure heavy/power metal and virtuoso solos. But, conversely, Who Dares Wins is messy with sub par lead vocals from Gianluigi Girardi (but this could be from the mix, as otherwise he's just fine). Then Marras and SS get clever with a classical acoustic guitar segue in Planet X around three minutes in. Been there, heard that before.
But things turn interesting with the second longest track In the Dawn of Time. Sure, it's blatant power metal, but it might remind you of Eighties Iron Maiden or, at the very least, but less heavy, Dio. The first instrumental, Black Rain, follows, an electric guitar number with the band in tow.
Then the title cut arrives and, according to my promotional notes, we find none other than Bruce Dickinson on vocals. Really? I'm more than a little suspicious, but it is a good traditional heavy/power metal song. Actually, it's vocalist Gianluigi Girardi who, in the promo notes, is compared to, or considered as, the next Bruce Dickinson. Another instrumental follows: this time classical acoustic guitar. Quite nice.
Then, the second song with Gianluigi Girardi channeling Bruce Dickinson arrives, Free Again. It sounds like Girardi is doing his very best impression of Edguy's Tobias Samett. The song itself sounds like a (heavier) clone of an Edguy song as well, but it is quite good. Despite the lack of clarity in the first promotional material, for clarity, Bruce Dickinson does not appear on this album.
Night Keeper rounds out with two good metal numbers, Lord of the Sea and Wild Horses, and another instrumental. The metal songs again remind of traditional heavy metal and prove Mr. Marras' ability to develop a composition, rather than his next guitar solo. But listening to the derivative nature of Wild Horses (or likely all the songs), he saves the song with his shred factor.
Screaming Shadow's Night Keeper finds guitarist Francesco Marras and friends doing what they do best: delivering classic melodic heavy and power metal so Marras can show off his impressive skills. No new ground is broken here, but I didn't expect it to be. So we're good all around.
Screaming Shadow's Night Keeper finds guitarist Francesco Marras and friends doing what they do best: delivering classic melodic heavy and power metal so Marras can show off his impressive guitar skills. No new ground is broken here, but I didn't expect it to be.