Vexillum - The wandering notes 3/5
1. Neverending quest
2. The first light
4. The brave and the craven
5. Ranger runs again
6. Rising from the ruins
7. The wood of chances
8. Hunter and prey
9. The traveller
10. Open your curtain
11. Shadow Vexillum - Part II
One thing that is immediately noticeable when listening to Vexillum’s debut CD is that their vocalist Dario Valessi bears quite a sonic resemblance to Elvenking’s Damnagoras (at least before the “goras” disappeared off the end of his name along with his credibility), and in general the newcomers tread the same boards as their countrymen did in their earlier years.
Although while the mix of lively power metal and jovial folk music is without doubt notably cut from the same cloth as that of the more experienced band, Vexillum take a more restrained approach to the style with the folk stylings more of a light dusting that accentuates the qualities of the existing song structures rather than playing a more equal role to them.
In fact, the most folk-influenced aspects of the CD generally come not during the songs but between them, as part of the clever production trickery that weaves the CD into one unified whole. All the songs are engineered to take place over one night spent in or around the medieval tavern depicted in the cover art, and are bound together seamlessly by the sounds of timbers and doors creaking, glasses clinking and being filled, and musicians tuning up before launching into suspiciously 21st century-sounding songs. It may be a little gimmicky, but in my experience is also rather unique and lends ‘The wandering notes’ a certain sly atmosphere.
The songs themselves vary generally between urgent galloping power metallers and more restrained, expansive songs where the emotional vocals take center stage. One notable exception to the rule is acoustic-driven “Ranger runs again”, one that almost sounds as though it could be coming from the imaginary musicians in the pub and is certainly among the more colourful and memorable on the CD.
The thing is that despite the songs all being generally pleasing, there really isn’t anything too outstanding on ‘The wandering notes’, and while it makes for an easy listen there honestly isn’t a great deal to shout from the rooftops about. The guitarists play with typical Italian fire and their solos and detailed and invigorating, but ultimately the songs all remain at a decent but decidedly unspectacular standard – though it would be most unfair to finish this review without giving mention to the powerful, inspiring chorus of the song “Avalon”, which is the sort of thing the CD could do with a great deal more of. The musical talent is definitely there, that is in no doubt, but the writing needs a degree of sharpening if Vexillum are ever to climb the ladder.
So that’s really about it for ‘The wandering notes’. It ultimately succeeds in fulfilling the promise of the musicians playing in the tavern hidden between the songs – rather agreeable to hear in the background, but really not worth going out of your way to hear.
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