A Little Background Info:
Revoltons are an Italian band that have been around for a good number of years with their first album coming out back in 2003. New album Underwater Bells part 2; October 9 1963; Act 1 (to give it it’s full title) is their fifth album and probably the one with the longest title! There was an album back in 2009 called “Underwater Bells” but I cannot say if they are completely connected. What I can say is that this album is 12 tracks but really 1 piece, 1 story and seems reasonably complete in its formatting. The story is based on a true event near Venice Italy when due to a landslide the Vajont dam over-spilled causing a megatsunami that destroyed 2 towns underneath killing over 2,500 people, men women and children. Listening to the album it is easy to tell the passion and endeavour to speak up for those who died in this man-made tragedy. The band are a mix of power, thrash and classic metal with some strong prog leanings, using a mix of these to good effect along with what seems to be a few singers, male and female and on this occasion also with Blaze Bayley (ex of course from Iron Maiden) who lends his pipes and personality to the longest song on the album “Grandmasters Of Death”.
I found it took a few plays to get into it. With headphones on I started to make sense of the lyrics in connection with the story. I think it was when I got to tracks 5 and 6 that my head was really turned. After that, I went back to the start and it all started to come together with the words and music.
The Songs Tell The Story:
On this they create a fictional named family to represent those lost. At the start they introduce you to the family whilst setting the scene that warnings about the possibility of a landslide were being ignored by the bosses of the dam and pointing out the way most of the media hushed the stories/warnings up. (The media that did report the dangers as far back as 3 years before were actually sued by the Italian government!) It is a simple love story at the start. His thoughts on his wife Mary his children. In “Mary And The Children” he refers to a child looking up at him all wide-eyed and innocent. Opening line to this track says “still working tonight, I feel the presence of death” so there is a foreboding or ominous vibe to everything around him and his family. In fact on a previous track “The Stars Of The Night Before” mentions how they were shining on them all “for the last time”. The music ably matches the words building the scene nicely.
Both “October 9th 1963” and “Erase! New Earth Lord” use acoustics and are more reflective. Sound effects of screaming is used in the first along with an emotional repeat of “no, they can’t be gone” by a female singer. There is TV or radio news reports which may (I cannot be certain) have been direct from after the events. Near the end are the heartbreaking lyrics “maybe to dream they’re still alive” from I assume Mary before she dies thinking of her children. The latter section is from the man’s point of view and has a hymn-like chorus which I liked very much. There is also a powerful and moody guitar solo.
The story moves on as it starts looking at the culprits with some anger and frustration. As it does the music follows. “Hypnos And Thanatos” (twin brothers and the gods of sleep and death in Greek or Roman mythology) opens with sounds of helicopters and acoustic guitars before a pounding riff comes in. Strangely the melody at one point sounds like the theme of a superhero character, I am not sure if that is on purpose but if it is then it is rather clever. “Primal Shock sounds primal. Probably the heaviest track. All out thrash with death metal growls at times. The question is asked “who committed all of this?” and the scream of “I am all alone” as the man realizes his family is gone. It is angry and brutal at times. Understandably I would say.
The first line of “The Powerless Wrath” repeats the mantra about being alone and continues the more speed metal style. Lyrics include the lines “behind the money, they close their eyes” as he vents wrath at the greedy corporations that knew the dangers and did nothing. Both this and the next song “Criminal Organism” made me think of Queensryche especially some of the acoustic playing and melodies from “Operation Mindcrime”. (One bit also had a feeling of the opening sequence of “Discovery” from Rush’s “2112”). This is another track that features both male and female vocals and has some of my favourite guitar parts on the album.
Guest Vocalist Joins In:
Then comes the epic track, over 10 minutes of theatre and drama both musically and vocally. As I said earlier “Grandmasters Of Death” features Blaze and he does his usual excellent job adding much threat and sneer capturing the powers that be. The arrogance on show matches those in power (“you have to trust and believe in me”). There are plenty of riffs (the opening one made me think of “Heaven And Hell” by Sabbath) , solos and voices (vocal styles) throughout. It powers along nicely and with headphones on it sounds even better. There is a little riff around the 8-minute mark that I loved (wish there was more of it, but then I am quite greedy). This is the song they fully flex their musical muscles and by God, they pack a fair punch when they do. This is a fantastic song and shows the full ability of Revoltons.
They finish with a short musical piece which suggests the story is not over. Perhaps there will be more on the aftermath, perhaps the fight for justice? Only time will tell.
This is an album worth listening to a few times to allow full access to the joys it holds (I mean musically as it is a terribly sad story). There is enough evidence to suggest they could pick up an audience in other parts of the world (sure having Blaze involved will help raise attention). For anyone who likes storytelling in their music, shed loads of riffs, metal and prog this is worth taking a chance on.
Released on Friday 7 February. Only on Amazon USA!
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