As my Grandmother might have said, ‘there’s a lot of it about’. She wouldn’t have been talking about the plethora of talented European power metal bands doing the rounds, of course, but you get the point…
… As if to prove the veracity of that old adage, here comes newbie Tygers of Pan Tang guitarist Francesco Marras, back from the day job with a new album from his longstanding project Screaming Shadows; Eighteen years after their arrival on the scene the band are back with their fifth full-length, Legacy of Stone. And very nice it is too.
The band don’t settle in one place for too long, and over the course of ten tracks on Legacy… they cover just about the full gamut of melodically-inclined metal, from the superb hard rock anthem Heaven or Hell all the way through to the frantic latterday Helloweenisms of Where Have I Been Up To Now.
If I’m honest, it’s the former that floats my particular boat; simple yet memorable riffs and superb, fluid soloing a la American AOR giants Fierce Heart is the order of the day, with Marras taking centre stage come solo time, ably aided and abetted by namesake Alessandro, who possess a strong, confident vocal persona and works as the perfect vocal foil to Francesco throughout.
Then of course there’s the neo-classical fretboard pyrotechnic showcase; Here Love and Hate fulfils all your requirements in that department; An energised mix of Primal Fear and Sweden’s Mean Streak, this is a cracking, archetypal slice of fast-paced mayhem that you won’t be able to resist; I’ve developed some sort of arthritic problem in my hands after trying to play air guitar in time to Francesco’s tasteful-yet-lightning-fast solos, but your won’t hear me complaining… well, maybe just a little. You know me well enough by now.
The Devil’s Mask is more restrained, hovering above Axel Rudi Pell territory with it’s barely-disguised Dio/Rainbow vibes, and by now you shuold be getting the picture that there really isn’t any style of traditional metal that Screaming Shadows aren’t very adept at indeed. That fact makes Legacy of Stone a very listenable album, if a little lacking in real thematic focus.
That said, I’m told the young people don’t really listen to album in the traditional way any more, cherry picking single tracks from their ‘streaming platforms’; in which case they’ve got ten bona fide crackers to pick from anyway. So everyone wins. However you happen to listen, you’ll enjoy this, mark my words.
Legacy of Stone releases on November 12th.