Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review: Heretic's Dream - The Unexpected Move (2012)

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The Unexpected Move

Heretics Dream - The Unexpected Move
Heretic's Dream is a young UK-based, all-Italian metal outift delivering a sound that mixes Gothic-styled vocals with predominantly straightforward and contemporary riff structures. Their debut release, The Unexpected Move, highlights the band's ability to craft interesting vocal and guitar melodies. It also reveals that there's room for improvement.

The dominant features of the Heretic's Dream sound are the vocal skill of frontwoman Francesca Di Ventura and the scratchy riffs of guitarist Andrej Surace - both founding members of the band. Di Ventura is an able singer with a strong mid-range style, but she often falls victim on The Unexpected Move to her own self-restraint. The soothing vocal harmonies she crafts on album opener "Forgiveness" are a highlight and underscore what she's capable of when venturing beyond her comfort zone. So too are the whispy vocal accents of "Honey I'm Home" and the catchy, sing-a-long chorus of "Shades Of Grey". The majority of the album, however, finds Di Ventura almost cemented in her primary tone - which is enjoyable, but could use further variation. On "Golden Cage", Di Ventura's soft voice is joined by the growls of either Surace or bassist Emiliano Baccini (it's not quite clear which) to add a bit of an Evanescence or Lacuna Coil touch to the Heretic's Dream style. The male vocals return on "Through The Unlocked Door", though with less of an impact than on "Honey I'm Home".

Heretics Dream
The band's press materials make mention of the progressive tendencies to be heard on The Unexpected Move, but while the song structures are far from pedestrian there isn't much that I would consider to be truly "prog" in nature. Surace does places an emphasis on variety, however, never letting a riff linger too long or resurface too often. The album is most engaging when he spices up his gritty style with the occasional classic rock lead ("She Said") or Pink Floyd atmospheric flourish ("Golden Cage"). His thrashy solo during "Through The Unlocked Door" is a standout momement, and his experimentation on "Shades Of Grey" with riffs that border on reggae hints at the proggressive tendencies that lie just under the surface of the Heretic's Dream sound. Proof of what the band can do when throwing caution to the wind comes on the album's final track, "Hollow". This instrumental number drifts recklessly into a Jethro Tull / Frank Zappa vortex with its abundance of groovy flute playing (courtesy of drummer Maurilio Di Stefano) and considerable proggish complexity. Hell, I think I can even hear some beat box action going on.

The Unexpected Move is a respectable debut from a young band that is in the process of defining themselves. Heretic's Dream is armed with a capable and charismatic singer backed by talented musicians and songwriters who, as they gain confidence in their abilities, can establish the band as a force in the Gothic/symphonic scene.
Track Listing
2She Said4:41
3A Kiss From The Sun4:42
4Golden Cage4:40
5Shades Of Grey4:00
6Through The Unlocked Door5:34
7Honey I'm Home5:29
8I Need Your Love5:28
9A Question Of Coincidence4:23
Total Runtime49:40

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