Italy has always been a big contributor to the power metal scene, ever since the second coming in the latter part of the ‘90s. But what with Italy being a bit of a disappointment pit lately (certain albums excluded, *cough* Elvenking *cough*, who’d have thought such a piece of interesting, passionate power metal should once more come soaring on majestic winds from the land of Fabio Lione? Edward De Rosa’s debut album Zeitgeist has a big thing going for it; mainly, it doesn’t exactly have that typical Italian sound, while still being exactly Italian. It’s a “side project” of guitarist Valerio De Rosa (Soul Of Steel) - hence obviously naming it Edward, because it’s much, much cooler - it’s fairly guitar forward, but not overly “look at me as I jack off this guitar” as many such projects are. This also makes the inclusion of such a track - the frenzied Replicants - much more tolerable and, dare I say it, enjoyable.
What’s offered is not your generic power metal though, nor is it very symphonic, as might be expected given many factors and prejudices. Edward De Rosa offer a high octane guitar driven progpower heavy on the catchiness, and with highly catchy and passionately delivered vocal lines that will have you humming along to Giacomo Voli’s (Rhapsody) powerful voice on the first listen. There’s a lot of focus on the vocals here, and why not, with Voli lending his expertise. Sure, the guy’s still no Fabio Lione, but he has a very rich tone and some Ashley Edison (Power Quest) like stylistics and touches of Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius), while sounding very modern. De Rosa adds his flamboyant guitar touches without being in your face about it; the solos are appropriate, the leads driving and affectionately allowed to stay behind Voli when the music needs it; everything is in the right amount, no show off, no unnecessary filler.
You’ll find the extravagant power metal antics in opener (excluding the intro) Legend: The Omega Man and highlight Burning Skies. On the other hand there are tracks like Ghost of the Ruins and The Sleep of Reason are slightly more progressively built, with some more complex timings and tempo shifts. The former of the two also infuses some oriental, folky vibes and also a sense of mystique to give depth to the theme. At times the album is pretty ballsy; there are a couple of tunes with folksy inspiration, and toward the end there’s Fight Of Life which starts with a powerful melodic instrumental half, before introducing a bit of Voli’s vocals in a mysterious tone - and then it really takes off with another instrumental half, flourishing with infective melodics. The rhythm play is incredible, the guitars catchy as a cold in hell as they get to duel some keys and a far off set of bagpipes. The melodic play is some of the best on the album, and that’s saying some, because De Rosa means business on here. Zeitgeist came out of nowhere, nary a hint about its existence before it was already there, and it turns out to be such a powerful, catchy listening experience, sure to grow even further with repeated listens; a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. Damn it Italy, I can’t stay angry with you for long.
Standout tracks: Legend: The Omega Man, Ghost of the Ruins, Burning Skies