Alltheniko - Devasterpiece 4/5

Reviewed: 3-13-09


1. Erased
2. The evil forces
3. Thunder and steel
4. Law of the stronger
5. Devasterpiece
6. Metal unchained
7. Rise and fall
8. I'm a fuckin' zombie
9. Feel the power
10. When this demon's coming
11. The godfather

What the heck is an "Alltheniko" anyway? Apparently it's a bastardization of Oldenico, a town halfway between Turin and Milan. Whether or not that's true, the strangely-named Alltheniko are an Italian power trio whose 2007 debut CD, 'We will fight', piqued my interest as a raw, yet promising slab of thrashy power metal with cool riffs and, unfortunately, vokills that were too often out of control and screamy. While not enthralled with 'We will fight', I liked it enough that I vowed to keep an eye on Alltheniko to see if they could take the necessary big step forward on CD #2. Lo and behold, Messrs. Boneshaker, Nightflight and The Idol (great stage names, guys) have decided to strike while the iron is hot, returning quickly with 'Devasterpiece' at the end of last year via the prolific My Graveyard label.

'Devasterpiece' is a noticeable upgrade in all areas over its predecessor. This is immediately obvious in the packaging, as the crappy, low-budget art and logo of the debut have been supplanted by a simple but effective cover illustration and a new eye-catching red logo. Amazingly, guitarist Joe Boneshaker was responsible for the artwork on both CDs. How did he improve so much as a graphic artist between 'We will fight' and today? The same question may legitimately be asked about his songwriting, as Boneshaker writes all or most of Alltheniko's music. In this category, as well, Boneshaker has stepped up his game, incorporating a few more power/speed metal influences to counterbalance the thrashy attack and offering up a fistful of strong metal hymns that skillfully blend compelling riffage with tasteful melodies. To see what I mean, check out the classic epic gallop of "Thunder and steel", the catchy riffiness of "Law of the stronger", the great guitar parts in the mostly instrumental "I'm a Fuckin' zombie", or the more-metal-than-thou cut, "Feel the power" (sample lyric: "I like to wear leather and jeans / At school my breakfast is a fuckin' beer").

Thankfully, despite their thrashy tendencies, Alltheniko don't sound like mindless bandwagon-jumping retro-thrash clones, but instead come across as a mixture of the German heavy-duty traditional metal scene (a la Rage or Brainstorm) with the North American speed metal sounds of Heathen, Helstar, Anvil and Exciter, and maybe a pinch of Annihilator. In truth, though, the dominant band comparison that keeps coming to mind during 'Devasterpiece' is to Germany's Sencirow, which is a very good thing in my book given the gratuitous praise I heaped on both 'Perception of fear' and 'The nightmare within'. The Sencirow analogy works not just musically and compositionally; indeed, vocalist Dave Nightflight sounds uncannily similar to Sencirow's (sadly now ex-)singer Kensington in spots. Speaking of Sir Nightflight, the guy has improved dramatically as a vocalist. Sometimes he still screeches painfully, but for the most part he's settled into a more menacing, tuneful, mid-range rasp that renders him infinitely more listenable than he was on 'We will fight'.

I guess the point of all of this is that 'Devasterpiece' is a surprisingly "mature" CD, given the youth of the band and the close temporal proximity to their decidedly not mature debut. Alltheniko are just now hitting their stride as musicians and writers. 'Devasterpiece' may not be a devastating masterpiece, but it is a damn fine chunk of molten Italian steel that is recommended to all fans of old-school speed metal and the band Sencirow. Well done, boys.




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