Fireworks

Stamina - 'System Of Power' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/91/86/0b/Stamina-System-Of-Power-8-1501440783.jpg Hot

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This is their best album to date though and a step in the right direction.

Proficient, Progressive Metal is what's on offer from this ever-evolving Italian band. Now on their fourth album, this record sees a new singer in Alessandro Granato installed and it's a good move, giving them a fresh push. Granato has a good set of pipes; strong enough to make the songs sound powerful, yet melodic enough to give us some hooks that wouldn't go awry on a Melodic Rock release. Being Italian, there's a kneejerk reaction to want to compare them to other Progressive Metal acts from those shores. They are less eccentric and over the top than many Italian bands, playing it straighter, but they are extremely good technically and the band has a flair that nods to a Classical understanding too. They are also partial to some rather good infectious overblown extended soloing. In many ways, Luca Sellitto's guitar playing is closer to the likes of Yngwie Malmsteem with the big keyboards being akin to Danish Prog Metallers Royal Hunt.

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'Holding On' is a good start and a clear example of what they do well. It's a heavy track with big guitars and whiplash drumming, but Granato delivers a hummable choral hook that hints at Joe Lynn Turner's spell with Malmsteen. They do like to show off their technical prowess, as many do in this genre, and on 'Must Be Blind' the guitars and keyboards go at the duelling with gusto. Fortunately, there's enough variation with arrangements and song content not to make this a mere widdlefest.

The epic 'Undergo (Black Moon Part II)' has a Classic Rock structure that starts slowly on acoustic guitar and flute. It is allowed to build slowly before increasing in intensity and exploding into a Rocker. The twisting time changes and the ability to throw in more unexpected elements like the almost Charleston groove at the beginning of 'Love Was Never Meant To Be' and the Jazzy start to 'Portrait Of Beauty' demonstrate there's some talent here. Whilst some of the hooks sink in like the very melodic 'One In A Million', a lot of the melodies aren't as arresting as the musical showmanship and it's this area they need to work on if they're to challenge the bigger players in the marketplace. This is their best album to date though and a step in the right direction.

Duncan Jamieson

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