Hard As Iron
"Hard as Iron"
release date 10th May
preview- review by Marco "Norman Knight" Signore____
return with a vengeance. The Italian combo, certainly one of the
best Italian metal bands, is back with this new album, “Hard as
Iron”. Heimdall started their musical career back in 1994 thanks to
the efforts of Fabio Calluori (guitar) and his brother Nicola (drums).
After three albums and a lot of deserved success, especially in Italy
and Japan, and some changes in the line up, Heimdall composed this
“Hard as Iron”, maybe their heaviest album.
Surely a reason of pride for the Southern Italy metal scene, that
is so often underestimated, confirming a band of epic metal that surely
left its mark in the epic landscape.
as Iron” opens with the track that gives the name to the album. It
is an intensely heavy and epic track, in which the expressive voice of
Giacomo Mercaldo appears already at its best, surfing on a tidal wave of
notes by the excellent guitar and rhythms. The keyboards of
Sergio Duccili add a rhythmic pattern of synth that makes the song
interesting and at the same time allows the flow of the main theme, up
to the bridge in which the voice becomes almost lyrical and the
arpeggios of keyboards create a carpet for the performance of Giacomo
that introduces the excellent technical solo by Fabio Calluori on
is a dark episode in the album, again with the arpeggios of synths that
accompany the voice and introduce an ominous rhythm of Enrico Canu
(drums), as the song develops in perfect epic style with heroic
choirs as the song rises in power and dramaticity, surrounding the
listener in the anguish of the darkest hour of night. Very good
the guitar work again by Fabio and Carmelo Claps (guitar), that
sometimes almost become a “second keyboard”, performing carpets of
sound in the usual realm of the keys.
Light” is another story. Here the song is clearly aggressive and
the bass played by Giovanni Canu leads us to a very epic riff of
technical arpeggios of keyboards (sometimes Sergio Duccilli reminds me
of Tony Banks for his arpeggio solutions). This song is marked by sudden
changes of rhythm marked by vocal counterpoints. The power riffs
of guitars add to a power-style pattern of drumming that makes this song
maybe the most “epic-power” of the album.. Again a very nice piece
of guitar technique surely will please the listener.
acoustic guitar arpeggio with a reverse-taped voice introduces the good
keyboard work on “Black Tower”, and the guitar solo
shows that these Heimdall are meaning. Voice and drums mark this heavy
metal song that will likely be appreciated by any Metaller, almost as
the other instruments are the minions of some dangerous emperor of
rhythms sending them in errands through his reign that is this song. The
drumming style here is heavy, commanding respect from the other
musicians of the bands that do their best to carry on their mission.
wind and the bass notes of a piano form around a dramatic voice in the
moving ballad that is “Cold”, and the lyrics are surely a
change of pace from the standard epic songs… Where
are you my Angel, I have lost my way… cries the excellent
performance of Giacomo. This song gave me
contrasting feelings: it is perfectly composed and performed, and
exactly for this reason it is also the less original of the album, as it
conforms to the standard of heavy metal ballads. Surely a needed
change of pace and at the same time a song that will divide the fans.
our feelings the guitars and changes of tempo of “The Emperor”
emerge from the next track of the disc (that also marks the beginning of
best part of the album itself). Driving keyboards follow the bass
and drums, and Giacomo rises upon the sounds with his voice telling us
the tales of this dark emperor. A very epic song again, marked by
unexpected passages of acoustig guitars that return to powerful rhythms
marked by ominous chords of keyboards, and in my humble opinion this
song is the second-best of the album. Great openings of doubled guitars
and constant carpets of vocal pads as the stream of drums and bass leads
on to a bass solo (well done, Giovanni!) on which the voice of Giacomo
whispers up to an epic-breathing bridge in which several voices entwine
into a suggestive rainbow of sonorities (on which I would have seen a
more exotic drumming, to be honest).
Home” is in my opinion the best episode of “Hard as Iron”-
I may be influenced by the sounds aptly chosen by Heimdall, and by the
driving cadence, but this song is the most original of the album and
honestly one of the most original pieces I’ve heard in the power and
epic metal in Italy. Every effect and sound patch in this song feels
“right”, and the atmosphere is driving and leads us to follow in the
“…land without down”
sung about by Giacomo. A special note goes to the
keyboard work here… I’d like more songs like this!
beyond the infinite desert of darkness of the previous track we find the
“Black Heaven”, and we are greeted by the acoustic guitar and
voice with delicate strings in the background. The vocals are
exquisitely redoubled as the violins counterpoint the piano that adds
cadence and doesn’t take away beauty from this ballade a
la “Master of the Winds” from the immortal Man O’War. A
delicate song that we are surprised to find in this album and that shows
how good are these boys at changing of pace.
almost as they want to confirm my words the dark and powerful intro of
“Holy Night” abruptly carries us back to the Epic Metal but
this time with a nasty tone of twilight inside. Heavy and strong beat of
the drums, sharp and marked rhythms of bass and guitars, and the
keyboards again in their carpets of sound with an expressive performance
of the voice herald the end of this album with an au
revoir that is only longing us for more.
All in all this album has several points of strength, and one is the production and mixing. Extremely clean and well mixed sounds came out of this album (as of course Heimdall made us used to).
The voice deserves compliments as it is not the usual screaming voice of the power metal, but is a careful and expressive vocalist that we find behind the microphone here, more reminiscent of David Defeis (Virgin Steele) than of any other vocalist in the Epic Metal scene. Very good guitar and bass work, heavy drumming and good keyboards.
I must be honest to my ideas, the second part of
the album (from The Emperor on) is also the best part, with more
varied and strong songs, but this only marks the fact that Heimdall are
capable of producing very varied themes – a quality that lacks in
other bands. In my opinion, they would need a
pinch of aggressivity that sometimes lacks, a little more
involvement of the keyboards, and a more varied drumming in a couple of
musical episodes that clearly asked for it. Nonetheless
this is again a quality album from Heimdall, and surely one that will
keep the Epic Metal scene alive and kicking. Well done guys!
© GryphonMetal.ch June 2001-2004Niederrohrdorf - Switzerland