Italian metal band Vexillum and their second album, The Bivouac requires some explanation. 'Vexillum' refers to flag banner that the Roman army carried in ancient times. A 'bivouac' is, essentially, 'a temporary encampment under little or no shelter.' Does this give you any clue to their type of metal? Perhaps not.
Vexillum is a melodic power metal band; not much of a surprise coming from Italy, Pisa specifically. They mix their power metal with folk ingredients, Celtic and Nordic, and wear Scottish kilts when they perform. This isn't novel either as there are many other bands doing the same (with or without the kilts); you can Google it.
So what makes Vexillum special? Given the above information, not much. Except the simple fact that they sound pretty good. Sure the opening three songs are generic power metal. But, the following songs, The Oak and Lady Flame, The Hunt, and The Dream are surprisingly entertaining. The whole 'folk' thing is neither mere accent or overwhelming indulgent. Basically, Vexillum makes it work without sounding contrived.
But then a song like The Marketsquare of Dooley or Valhalla start with the 'folk' nuance only to erupt into basic power metal. Yet, again, Vexillum does this well: galloping speed, nice keyboards, and brisk solos. The wild card here might be Dario Vallesi's vocals: he's not the greatest singer. He's best when the vocal arrangements include others in the band. Excepting their hardcore fans, I suspect many listeners may pass Vexillum's The Bivouac as ordinary power metal, and I would understand their ambivalence. Nevertheless, I say give them a listen; there's some gems here.
Basically, on The Bivouac, Italy's Vexillum offers melodic power metal with 'folk' accents. It's not novel, but they do sound good.
The first incarnation of First Signal featured significant vocalist Harry Hess (Harem Scarem, many others) and the multi-talent musician and producer Dennis Ward. Eerie echoes of the Harem Scarem sound permeated the self-titled album, and fans ate it up. Now Frontiers ... [ Read More ]