Italian historically-minded metallists Scala Mercalli are back with their fourth full-length outing, Independence, and very interesting it is too.

Charting the events from the Battle of Tolentino in eighteen fifteen to Garibaldi‘s actions in Rome and at the Battle of Calatifimi in the closing years of the eighteen forties the band – harnessing the power of metal, naturally – tell a compelling story of some of the events that led to the formation of the Kingdom of Italy as an independent, unified state.

This might not be of much interest to a modern youth infected by post-modernism and the prevailing, malign winds of globalism, but it’s an interesting and well-told tale all the same. Of course it would probably been better told by someone else had Scala Mercalli not had the musical smarts to back up their historical expertise, but luckily they do, and for the most part Independence is enjoyable both as a work of power metal and historical storytelling.

A particular highlight is the bass playing performance of Giusy Bettei, who alternates between a low rumble when in support and some fine, strong-fingered work when taking the lead; she’s a real star, punching through the coruscating guitars of Cristiano Cellini and Clemente Cattalani whenever the chance presents itself.

The material on offer is solid, melodic and, on highlight tracks such as the excellent The Last Defence (Roma – Gianicolo 1849), as good as anything you’ll have heard in it’s field so far this year. The band balance the need to tell their story with the requirements to provide those only interested in the music with a satisfying listening experience very well; Vocalist Christian Bartolacci narrates against a backdrop of duelling axes from Cellini and Cattalani, the two sides complementing one another in thrilling fashion.

Never Surrender is powered by some superb percussive aggression from Sergio Ciccoli who delivers a powerhouse performance on the song without swamping the message or the other instrumentation. You’ll marvel at his cymbal work as much as his piston-legged kick drum assault, which backs up the superb solos in classic power metal style.

The album ends with the band’s metalised version of the Italian National Anthem (of course), a fitting finale to such a sincerely-put together project. Bravo!

Independence is out now.