Heavenblast - Flashback 3.5/5

Reviewed: 2-8-08





Tracklist:

1. The deliverance
2. Gravity
3. Start all over
4. Flashback
5. The abyss
6. Winter falling
7. Soulraiser
8. Opposite poles
9. Why?
10. The show must go on


Italian band Heavenblast entered the scene with their 2002 's/t' release, a power metal CD in line with Projecto, Shadows of Steel, Morgana, Shining Fury and Sigma. The debut was good but unspectacular, and it didn't really get a lot of attention, as other Italian power metal bands were releasing some of their best material (to date) at the time. I was pleased to find out they were releasing a new CD though, as I'm a huge lover of Italian power metal and there aren't a lot of releases in the style these days. Unfortunately, this 2nd CD 'Flashback' has been complete for about 2 years, and it's just now (in 2008) seeing the light of day. I'm guessing this is just an other example of their label (Underground Symphony) delaying the release, but I have a hard time talking too negatively about the label, as they're responsible for some of the best power metal CDs ever released.

Thankfully, 'Flashback' is in the same style as the debut, and in addition to the earlier comparisons, I can easily throw in Labyrinth, Concept, Highlord, Secret Sphere, Wonderland, Vision Divine, Athlantis, Infinity and Oracle Sun. Plus, the CD is an improvement, as while the debut had plenty of songs that contained great parts, very few of them came together as a whole. 'Flashback' however, features better songwriting, at a more consistent level, and the entire band emanates a more mature sound. We still get a fair amount of piano and keyboards, as with most Italian bands, and the guitar work is excellent throughout, courtesy of Donatello Menna and Alessandro Saponaro. I also think vocalist Marco La Corte has improved, but while he has the typical (Italian) falsetto, his accent is a bit more present than with most other vocalists. I personally think he's great, but if you like your power metal vocalists accent-free, he's probably not for you.

One comforting aspect with 'Flashback' is the amount of speed, as after the short intro "The deliverance", track 2 "Gravity" steps on the gas and doesn't let up throughout the first half of the CD. My favorite song is track 5 "The abyss", as it starts out with drums and bass, then comes the keyboard, all before the lead and rhythm guitars jump in. The song has a terrific guitar solo too. The CD slows down a bit as we reach the 2nd half, but the songs are still great and it proves the band can write consistently, regardless of tempo. I really like track 9 "Why?", which is mostly slow, but it contains some of the magic that I've heard from other Italian bands. A cover of Queen's "The show must go on" finishes the CD, but I have to wonder how many bands have already covered this song. That said, Heavenblast's version is very good, especially regarding the keyboard parts.

So we end up with a great sophomore effort, but I think there's still room for improvement (regarding the songwriting, as all of the ingredients are already in place). Seriously, there's no reason these guys can't provide an even better 3rd CD, in line with some of the best CDs that Italians have given us. I also feel that it's going to be a very important stage in their career, as the Italian power metal style is not as popular now as it was around the time of their debut, and we may be reaching the point where only the strong survive. So I'll be waiting for their all-important 3rd CD, and as most of you would guess, I'll definitely be in first in line.



CLINT




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