Italy is the second home, next to Germany, for most power metal. Ancestral brings their version of epic power metal with their debut release on Underground Symphony, 'The Ancient Curse.' And I hate to say it but this is more of the same with the possible exception of one thing: these guys play power metal at the speed of thrash metal. Is this enough to set them apart in this overcrowded genre? I doubt it.
Ancestral is a two family business. First, there are the Olivo brothers, Mirko on vocals and Alessandro on lead and rhythm guitar. Brothers Domiziano and Massimiliano Mendolia play bass and drums, respectively. The band is filled out by second guitarist, Giovan Ferrantello, and I'm guessing he's no relation to the others. I'll bet he feels like the odd man out when the brothers get to fighting. Together these men strive to carve out a niche creating their own brand of melodic power metal. Frankly, it's a good start, but hardly memorable.
For sure, there are some noteworthy songs on the album, especially 'The Ancient Curse' and 'Achilles' Fury.' 'Time has Gone By' is a clever acoustic number that pulls Mirko away from his monotonous and strained metal vocals. 'The Walls Of Troy' mixes things up a bit moving away from the break-neck speed at times to a near progressive twist. However, there is not much more to recognize here. The metal version of the Beatles' 'Eleanor Rigby' is pleasingly goofy, if not just plain bizarre. If they were going for something like Judas Priest's cover of Joan Baez's 'Diamonds and Rust, then they have failed miserably.
My major qualms are with Mirko's vocals, more of the same just over and over, and the production which is close to horrible. I'm sure Massimiliano is a fine drummer and has a great kit, but it sounds like he's beating upon the latest Wal-Mart Christmas special. This is just one example. Yet, one positive characteristic is the great riffs provided by Alessandro and Mr. Ferrantello: both are pretty darn good and stand out quite well.
Ancestral and 'The Ancient Curse,' is hardly remarkable, but it is a very good effort from this Italian metal band. With time, experience and some decent production, Ancestral could rise above the mediocrity that is Italian power metal. Let's hope for the best on the next release; I'll be watching for it. If you love Italian metal with some exceptional guitar work, I recommend this work to you. Otherwise, 'The Ancient Curse' definitely falls into the 'try before you buy' category.
Ancestral and 'The Ancient Curse,' is hardly remarkable, but it is a very good effort from this Italian metal band. With time, experience and some decent production, Ancestral could rise above the mediocrity that is Italian power metal.