Although Flashback of Anger
clearly possess some remarkably skilled playing attributes from a wide assembly of talent, their 2009 effort “Splinters of Life
” mainly suffers from a conflicted sense of direction on the production side, with a small catch-22 situation by arguably the band’s greatest member, lead singer and keyboardist Alessio Gori.
There are two keyboardists in Flashback of Anger
, but it is presumably Gori that provides the majority of the solo work, lead lines, and most importantly the synthetic piano parts (“Time Can Answer”, “Stars”, and “Outer World”). Those featured solos are the sweetest parts of the record for they are executed beyond normal playing with a level of dexterity that should be categorized as prodigious. Between Gori and Emanuele Giorgetti, the synth tracks everywhere are dominant, precise, and creative (the intro, “By the Gates
of My Dreams” and the hooking “All I have”). They lead a rhythm section that isn’t highlighted much but no less able or appreciated (the full bodied and collaborative “Back in the Nightmare
” and the very heavy “Flashback of Anger
”). But for all the virtuosity of the co-keyboardists and the cohesiveness of the rhythm section, it is the vocal output by Gori that is by far the weakest element of the band’s sound.
There are three aspects that negatively reflect on Gori’s vocal output. One – either English is his second language or he has a very strong accent. Either way, it interferes with his diction and clarity. Two
– his register is high but his tone is thin-bodied with little power. Notes sound squeezed out of this throat rather than belted. It comes off as weak. Finally, three – he has a lack of vocal command, which is indicative of a lack of voice training. “A Void
Within Me” uses many special effects to mask technical flaws and the piano backed “Outer World” illustrates in one song both the asset and detriment that Gori presents to the band. Of course, to be fair, if Gori’s voice and vocal abilities is satisfactory then the most major obstacle is cleared in liking Flashback of Anger
’s overall sound.
The main criticism of “Splinters of Life
”; however, doesn’t come from Gori’s pipes but from the confused direction of the band. “A Void
Within Me” more than any other track paints a ‘love metal’ kind of picture that other tracks seem to emulate from (“Outer World” and “Stars”). Very peculiarly, lyricist Alberto Amadori is not a playing member of the band and while there is not an overt sense of separation between singer and lyrics, there is a romantic and emotional tone the lyrics set that isn’t wholly matched by the music (“Back in the Nightmare
”, “Splinters of Life
”, and the song “Flashback of Anger
”). Within each song, there are parts that ride closer to that theme, but on other levels veer off to other tones altogether different from its intended center (“Off
with My Heart
” and “Time Can Answer”).
On “Splinters of Life
” there are flashes of technical brilliance, including the yet-to-be-mentioned lead solo work by Giulio Cercato (“Splinters of Life
”, “Strange Illusion
”, and “Back in the Nightmare
”) as well as some pretty cool creative ideas, like harpsichord (“Time Can Answer”) and some seriously smooth funky guitar on the best track of the album “Off
with My Heart
”. The make or break areas are debatable and up to the listeners discretion, of course, but the main feeling that will come from hearing “Splinters of Life
” at best will be a sense of “nice try” over “good work”.