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Vexillum - 'Unum' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/df/9a/69/Vexillum-Unum-94-1430421482.jpg Hot

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Their music is not only very good but also a hell of a lot of fun as well.

Italian Battle/Folk Metallers Vexillum have returned with their third album, the oddly titled 'Unum'. 'Unum' is a concept album that sees the main protagonist (played by the band's vocalist Dario Vallesi) going on a quest where he's aided by a cast of strange characters. As he travels these characters, who are played by a who's who of European Metal vocalists including Chris Bay (Freedom Call), Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian), Maxi Nil (Jaded Star/ex-Visions of Atlantis) and Mark Boals (Malmsteen, Iron Mask, Ring of Fire), who all help him out and contribute to the overall story. As you would be expected each of these vocalists, who play The Jester, The Sentenced, a Lady Thief and a Hermit respectively, put in a wonderful performance.

So what is to be expected from this bunch of Italian lunatics? 'Unum' is a forceful album full of chant-along Folk Metal songs that use everything from guitars to bagpipes to get the story of the album across and in my opinion it's by far their best release to date. The song-writing is the tightest yet, the arrangements are more involved and powerful than before and the whole band perform out of their battle kilts (yes they do wear them) during these songs and album.

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'The Departure: Blow Away The Ashes', 'The Jester: Over The Clouds', 'The Sentenced: Fire And Blood' all thunder past as the album begins, but as I listened to 'Unum' I realised and noticed that the usual galloping, double kick drum songs of old have been replaced by more well-thought out and mid-paced fare that shows a new maturity in the band's song-writing. 'Lady Thief: What We Are' is a wonderful duet featuring Vallesi and Nil whose vocals are complemented by some wonderful Uilleann pipes that fit so well with Vexillum's music. The latter half of the album features more great tracks like 'The Hermit: Through The Mirror', 'The True Beginning: Standing As One' and 'Spunta La Luna Dal Monte' which all prove that Vexillum have come up with a really strong album. Finishing with a fun cover of Slade's 'Run Runaway' is a stroke of genius as the band's Folk Metal take on the song really suits it to a tee.

Vexillum, with 'Unum', have just leapfrogged over many other such acts who play this type of fast-paced Folk Metal and that's because their music is not only very good but also a hell of a lot of fun as well.

Ian Johnson

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