Etikett: nemesis

Skeletoon – The 1.21 Gigawatts Club

Album: The 1.21 Gigawatts Club
Artist: Skeletoon
Label: Scarlet Records
Released:  October 15th, 2021
Genre: Power metal
Tracks: 11

1. Intro: Unveiling Secrets
2. Holding On
3. Outatime
4. The Pinheads
5. 2204
6. Enchant Me
7. We Don’t Need Roads (The Great Scott Madness)
8. Pleasure Paradise (Oh Là Là)
9. The 4th Dimensional Legacy
10. Eastwood Ravine
11. Johnny B. Goode

Third strike in as many years for these Italian purveyors of power metal pomp, and have they lost their stride? Has the well of creativity run dry? Not in the slightest! Where other bands may have run out of ideas, of catchy choruses and epic guitar riffs, Skeletoon just sail on, oblivious to all except bringing quality European power metal to connoisseurs of the genre. We should be thankful, really.

The 1.21 Gigawatts Club is a concept album, dealing with the 80’s cult classic film trilogy Back to the Future. A fitting theme, seeing how the band prides itself on being ”nerd metal”. There’s a lot of love for these cult movies in the execution of the material on hand. Once again the boys of Skeletoon bring us a variety of tunes all adding up to a sum that is greater than its parts. There are the obligatory speedsters (the opening tracks ”Holding On” and ”Outatime”), there are the mid-tempos (”The Pinheads” and ”Pleasure Paradise (Oh Là Là)”), and there’s the obligatory ballad (”Enchant Me”). All songs that are jewels in and of themselves, but as a collective pushes the concept and the story forwards.

As I’m a great fan of speedy power metal, the opening cuts – the already mentioned – ”Holding On” and ”Outatime” scratch that itch I have for sugary European power metal with catchy and memorable, not to mention anthemic!, choruses. Especially the latter track does it for me. Man, that chorus! And the ending wraps up the candyflossy (is that even a word?) affair in a most fitting manner. Frontman Tomi Fooler treats us to the compulsory falsettos that we’ve come to love so. A great start to the album!

The mid-tempo tracks that follow are good, especially ”2204”, but they have a hard time competing with the opening salvo. The ballad ”Enchant Me” works its magic on the first listen and just begs for repeated listens. I don’t think I’ve heard such a sappy (but in a good way!), cheesy and sentimental ballad in a long time. But it fits the concept, it feels natural, and it feels Skeletoon-y, so it works. This is the tune that will bring the lighters (or, in this day and age, cell phone flashlights) when played live, no doubt.

The other half of the album boasts two more great songs in ”Pleasure Paradise (Oh Là Là)” and ”The 4th Dimensional Legacy”. Mid- to up-tempo affairs, they bring yet more of those infectious choruses as the aforementioned Mr. Fooler works his vocal chords to the benefit of the listening pleasure. There’s really nothing more to say other than that these songs cement the record’s replay value in a most charming way.

Closing track ”Eastwood Ravine” is a mini epic, clocking in at little more than seven minutes. It deals with the last installment of the movie trilogy, as I’ve gathered, and it wraps the album up nicely. Did I mention that chorus will get stuck in your head? It’s hard to fathom how these guys can keep churning out consistently professional power metal and make it work over the course of not one, but three albums in three years. Other bands, and not only in this genre, would kill for that ability.

In closing, The 1.21 Gigawatts Club is yet another triumph for these guys. Granted, there were moments over the album that didn’t impress me as hard as others, and 2020’s Nemesis is a tough album to beat (I mean a song like ”Il Tramonto Delle Ere” is just ridiculous), but I do think it’s at least up there sniffing alongside it, and what more could you ask for?

Now, I don’t have access to the lyrics, but I imagine they follow the trilogy pretty close in theme. You don’t have to have seen the movies to enjoy this album, but I gather it helps. What’s obvious, though, is that these guys really revere the Back to the Future movies and furnish their tunes with love and admiration accordingly. One more candidate for album of the year? Probably. Yeah, I’m a fanboy. So sue me.

Skeletoon – Nemesis

Album: Nemesis
Artist: Skeletoon
Label: Scarlet Records
Released: September 25th, 2020
Genre: Melodic power metal
Tracks: 12

1. Prelude: Falling Galaxies
2. Brighter Than 1000 Suns
3. Will You Save Us All?
4. Nemesis
5. Starseeker
6. Cold the Night
7. Follow Me Home
8. Wake Up the Fire
9. Il Tramonto Delle Ere
10. Arcana Opera
11. The Nerdmetal Superheroes
12. Carry On

Some bands just don’t rest on their laurels. Case in point: Italy’s Skeletoon, who released their latest album, They Never Say Die (see my review here), a mere 18 months ago (that’s March 2019 for those of you reading this review at a later date). That album was a hearty and fun tribute to the cult flick The Goonies, coated in that sugary version of European power metal the Italians seem to be so keen on. And now it’s time for the successor, menacingly named Nemesis. There’s no menace here, however, but abounding happiness and positivity.

Skeletoon label themselves ”nerd metal”, drawing inspiration from comic books, computer games and movies, and Nemesis is apparently the first part in a three part sagas, the following two parts to be released over the coming years (oh joy!). If the quality of those forthcoming albums is anything like this album, we’re in for a treat. Actually, we’re in for a treat right now, because Nemesis blows They Never Say Die, an excellent album in its own right, right out of the water.

After a short intro, ”Brighter Than 1000 Suns” starts with a falsetto from vocalist Tomi Fooler, setting the bar for what’s to come. Double bass abounds as we’re led to a chorus that’s the epitome of happiness and positivity. A great start. Now, many power metal bands would follow the obligatory speedy opener with a mid-tempo track, but not Skeletoon. No, ”Will You Save Us All?” continues the high speed of the opener and treats us to a guest appearance by Alessandro Conti (Trick or Treat, Twilight Force) as well. The falsettos on this one are unreal, carrying that sweet ass chorus us power metallers so desire.

Only with the title track things are slowed down a bit. This is actually sort of the black sheep of the family, featuring some dirty guitars and harsh vocals in the verses, supplied by Melissa Bonny (Rage of Light). I really didn’t care for this track all too much in the beginning, but it grew on me, bringing the necessary dynamics to the album. Feels like I’m repeating myself here, but the chorus is really catchy too.

”Starseeker” brings us back into sing along land again. What a chorus! Not as fast as the two opening tracks, but equally anthemic. Now, I don’t have access to the lyrics, but from what I’ve managed to gather the whole theme of the album is heroes, and how regular people can be heroic given the right circumstances. The aforementioned track illustrates this beautifully. ”Cold the Night” is as close to a ballad as you will come, and if there ever were a time to bring out the lighters, it is now. Yet another brilliant chorus from the guys.

”Follow Me Home” is a merry speedster resembling something Freedom Call could do, without being an overt tribute. The guys of Skeletoon seem to like speed, and I’m not one to complain. Mid-tempo track ”Wake Up the Fire” is the first song I don’t really care for. I don’t know, it just didn’t gel with me. It’s got a nice guest guitar solo by Bill Hudson (NorthTale), though.

Now we’ve arrived at ”Il Tramonto Delle Ere”, undoubtedly the jewel in the crown, the cherry on top of the dessert. I could easily write a thousand words about this track alone, but at the same time, no words would do it justice. Sung entirely in Italian, this song is no ballad (which you might have thought, seeing other Italian bands – cough, Rhapsody of Fire, cough – having a penchant for penning ballads in their native language), but resides somewhere between mid and up-tempo. The title translates to ”Sunset of the Ages”, and features verses and chorus so anthemic and glorious they’ll blow your head clean off, and, yeah, it’s kinda cheesy but there is no better word for it: This song is heroic. It also features a shitload of falsetto singing (is there nothing Mr. Fooler can’t do with his voice?). Seriously, it sounds like he’s serenading life itself. You’ve just got to hear this. My favorite track of the album by a country mile.

Time for the mini epic (around 8 minutes long) ”Arcana Opera”. It starts off – yeah, you guessed it, speedily and features a chorus that gets stuck in your head like glue the first time you hear it. We’re treated to guest vocals by Giacomo Voli of the aforementioned Rhapsody of Fire, as well as guitar contributions by his band mate Roberto De Micheli. The song is very dynamic, with slower portions to complement the fast parts. Returning to the chorus, the song rounds off nicely. ”The Nerdmetal Superheroes” is a track that’s taken me a few spins to appreciate, even though I didn’t really care for it in the beginning. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Edguy’s earlier days, although being neither a parody nor a tribute. I reckon it will grow on me.

Rounding of the album is a more than passable cover of the Angra evergreen ”Carry On”, one of my favorite power metal songs ever. There is no replacing André Matos (R.I.P.) ever, but Skeletoon manage to stay faithful to the original in a very respectful way, so kudos to that!

To summarize this overly long review (yeah, I just can’t help myself when reviewing albums I really really love), what we have here is one of the best European (in both the geographical and genre sense) power metal albums released this year, and easily a contender for  album of the year. Skeletoon outdid themselves on this one, and I, for one, can’t wait to follow them wherever they go next. Nerd Metallers del mondo, unitevi!