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Great Master - Serenissima 4.5/5

Reviewed: 4-1-13


1. The ascention
2. Queen of the sea
3. Doge
4. The merchant
5. Golden cross
6. Marco polo
7. Across the sea
8. Black death
9. Enemies at the gates
10. Marching on the northen land
11. Lapanto's call
12. The fall
13. Medieval steel (bonus track)

Italian band Great Master burst onto the metal scene in 2009 with their sensational debut 'Underworld', and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review it near the end of that year. Its style is traditional heavy/power metal and I've always liked the clear vocals, fantastic lead guitar work and numerous guitar solos on that CD, which I still spin regularly. Now the band is back with the follow-up 'Serenissima', and just like the debut, it was released through Underground Symphony.

In every way, this 2nd CD continues where the debut left off. The band's style remains traditional heavy/power metal recalling well-established bands like Iron Maiden, Wolf, Running Wild, Ilium and so on, but I'm also reminded of some of the newer bands like Katana, Alpha Tiger, Gallows End, Steelwing, and another new Italian band - Heavenfall. Just like with the debut, there is a lot of impressive lead guitar work and plenty of killer guitar solos. There are very few parts with keys, but when they do pop up, I actually like them - especially the short but catchy segment in the epic track 9 "Enemies at the gates". Basically, I'm greatly pleased with the musical side of this CD and it thankfully matches the quality of the debut.

Vocally, Max Bastasi is back with his clean and crystal clear voice. I actually really like his vocals and feel he fits the band's music style perfectly, but over the last few years I've read some comments (forums, reviews, etc.) from other metal fans who didn't like his vocals on the debut, and therefore they weren't as excited about it as I've been. So while I stand by my thoughts that he's a great vocalist (especially for the musical style), know that you might not feel the same way.

As for the songs, they're all at least excellent and a handful are beyond. Since consistency is so important, the band is successful at providing their 2nd high-quality CD and expectations remain high for the band's future. Since I'm not sure if I like the debut or this 2nd CD more, I'll simply say that they're both highly recommended, and if you're one of the metal fans who likes the debut as much as me, you'll certainly be plenty happy with 'Serenissima'.




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