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Mastercastle: The Phoenix

Mastercastle: The Phoenix

Melodic Metal
Rating: 5.0/5.0

The mastermind behind Mastercastle is guitar great Pier Gonella (Labyrinth, Necrodeath, Odyssea), and he has created a fantastic melodic metal band in the neo-classical tradition. Gonella may be the creator, but the beauty, brains (she brought the lyrics: see additional info below), and the star is the mostly unknown Italian vocalist Giorgia Gueglio. Man, can this lady sing! She's sounds like Ann Wilson on steroids, but without the screeching that pierces eardrums. Gonella is awesome on guitar, but Ms. Gueglio steals the show.

This formidable combination is only made better by their back up: bassist Steve Vawamas and guest drummer Alessandro 'Bix' Bissa (Vision Divine). Mastercastle's debut is an amazing and nearly flawless listening adventure. I know it's early, but 'The Phoenix' is on my short list for metal album of the year. My kudos to Lion Music for signing this one!

Except for some slight downturns into a standard power metal motif within several arrangements, every song on 'The Phoenix' is well-crafted, soaring and excellent melodic heavy metal. Again, as I mentioned above, Ms. Gueglio is quite astonishing in her capabilities and delivery. Not to slight any song, her finest performances come on 'Words Are Swords,' 'Princess Of Love,' the truly amazing 'Greed Blade,' and the closing number 'Cradle Of Stone.' Also, Giorgia is genuinely passionate, clear and strong on the metal ballad 'Lullaby Noir.' Where has this gal been hiding?

On guitarist Gonella's side, you will find him ripping up the fret board throughout 'The Phoenix,' and so demonstrating his creativity and expertise. His style is neo-classical, but it's not indulgent like, say, a Malmsteem. Instead, Gonella brings the fire without the wiggly verbosity found from other virtuosos within the band context. Sure, on the instrumentals 'My Screams' and 'Memories,' Pier can shred with best, but he never grandstands when he plays lead in the other songs. This is a rare and unappreciated feature for a guitar hero: he can both star alone (as on the instrumentals) and then contribute to the whole with his solos within the songs. The best of which are: 'Words Are Swords,' 'Greed Blade,' the diverse 'Dawn Of Promises,' and the epic 'Cradle Of Stone.' Frankly, I'm thrilled by his performance: it displays both humility and passion.

By now you have some sense of my enthusiasm for Mastercastle. Where Gonella and company slip, but only slightly, is when they degenerate into mundane power metal as on 'The Phoenix or 'Dawn Of Promises.' However, on both this is easily overlooked thanks to the strength of the total arrangement, Gueglio's vocals and Gonella's solos.

Mastercastle's 'The Phoenix,' featuring Pier Gonella and vocalist Giorgia Gueglio, is simply fantastic. This work is a perfect mix of outstanding vocals, brilliant neo-classical guitar, vivacious arrangements, and a solid rhythm section to create exciting and memorable melodic heavy metal. Very highly recommended: buy this album now!

Additional Information

*'The lyrics for the album by Giorgia Gueglio are mostly influenced by human nature as well as forgotten tales and events. For example the song 'Greedy Blade' tells about the disaster of Vajont, a dam on the Italian Alps that after a landslide, created a giant wave that destroyed towns and villages in the valley. The title track 'The Phoenix' tells a story human nature that need to be as strong as the phoenix, the legendary bird that dies and is born again on his ashes. The song 'Princess Of Love' is a mystical tale about the magic presence of a clan of witches dancing in the forest.'
-- Source: Lion Music

In Short

Mastercastle's 'The Phoenix,' featuring Pier Gonella and vocalist Giorgia Gueglio, is simply fantastic. This work is a perfect mix of outstanding vocals, brilliant neo-classical guitar, vivacious arrangements, and a solid rhythm section to create exciting and memorable melodic heavy metal. Very highly recommended: buy this album now!

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