is a quite new band from Italy. Initially they played a sort of gothic metal with operatic vocals and symphonic keyboards, this style being showcased on their first demo entitled "Catch The Breath", which was released in 2005. However, in the few years that followed the recording of their demo, something must have changed in the musical vision of the band, and this sort of evolution is now evident when listening to "Apocalife", their first official album. As a matter of fact, the style of the band can no longer be confined to the gothic metal field, as now their compositions manage to sound more aggressive, yet keeping melody at the core of the matter insofar as songwriting is concerned, incorporating aspects of genres such as symphonic power metal and even melodic death besides the original gothic base.
The best definition for the new style of the band could be "gothic metal meets melodic death", but it still does not represent the band well: almost every song features heavy, at times thrashy rhythm guitars, a few fast parts, quite good, tasteful melodic guitar leads and a very strong presence of the keyboards which embellish the songs themselves. Actually, keyboards are almost the only factor left as evidence of their past as a gothic band!
A favorable comparison to help the reader get an idea of the new musical direction of Shining Fear
could be made to the melodic death stars Arch Enemy
circa "Anthems Of Rebellion
", if they had keyboards, clean female vocals and a strong European power metal influence. However, the differences between the two bands are huge, and this gives only more credit to this Italian band as they have really forged a personal sound. In fact, whilst keyboards have become quite common in both melodic death and power metal (especially after bands like Rhapsody Of Fire
and Children Of Bodom
experienced very great success),
Mischeri's beautiful melodic vocals alone differentiate Shining Fear
from countless standard melodic death bands whose singers try their best to sound like a mere carbon copy of Angela Gossow or Jeff Walker. Moreover, melodic death is just part of the sound of the band, and the most striking aspect is that on the one hand we have drums, bass and rhythm guitars forging a heavy and pounding metal sound, and on the other hand we have vocals, keyboards and melodic guitar soli creating a starking, melodic and atmospheric contrast.
The most relevant factor in the music of the band is that the melodic touches highlight the heavier components of the music instead of drowning the intensity of the compositions; the final section of "No One
Erase" offers a clear example for this: after a part in which keyboards and bass alone create a very atmospheric part, the guitar starts playing a heavy riff over a beautiful keyboard melody; finally, just when you start thinking that the harmonic female vocals would eventually lessen the impact of the guitars, all of a sudden the drums provide some pounding blast beats...the unusual fact is that the whole thing works very well, and perhaps the title "Absolute
Contrast" is not there just by chance, if you know what I mean!
The main complaints about this debut album can be found in the production: the sound is very clear and polished, even a bit too much actually: it reveals all the small defects that are still present in the music of the band, like some problems in the vocals department (which consist in some difficulties in keeping the right intonation on the higher notes), and some little imprecisions of the solo guitar. Both
defects can barely be noticed and therefore can easily be overlooked as they do not distract the listener.
All in all, "Apocalife" is a good starting point for Shining Fear
; songs like the title-track, the already mentioned "No One
Erase" and "Come From Hell
", to name but a few, are a solid proof of the technical and songwriting abilities of this band. The only minor flaw is that some songs tend to sound somewhat similar to each other, even if there is enough variance to keep the listener interested in listening through the whole album, as most of the songs play quite effectively. With its smooth interaction of melody and aggression, heaviness and harmony, "Apocalife" should appeal to all those who believe that
gothic metal and symphonic power can co-exist and to those who are open-minded enough to appreciate the intensity of melodic death metal without growling vocals and genre restrictions. However, the real strength underlying the sound of Shining Fear
lies in the fact that it is really more than the sum of its parts and, while not a perfect album by any means, "Apocalife" already shows good promise for future releases from this talented band.