Just as I was about to write-off the entire progressive metal genre for lack of originality along comes something like this, giving me hope that a new symphonic metal band actually can emerge from under the shadow of Dream Theater and find a unique voice all their own.
The Italian group Echotime originated as a metal cover band before maturing into to the progressive power/symphonic metal band they've become. And their first album is an extremely ambitious concept album that - although drawing inspiration from the usual suspects like Dream Theater, Symphony X, Kamelot, Queensryche, Pain Of Salvation, Circus Maximus, and the like - utilizes these influences as a rock solid foundation, then builds up from there to create a masterpiece of progressive metal with their own unique stamp.
"Genuine" is a four act metal opera with industrial Steampunk overtones, relating the tale of a Daniel Anthony, chemistry researcher who stumbles upon a new molecule called 'Genuine' which if used properly can help the entire planet. But someone in a position of power wants to suppress Anthony's discovery and does so by imprisoning him to keep his discovery secret. But one night a mysterious stranger materializes in the cell and helps Daniel to escape through time and space. And upon his return uncovers secrets about Leadtown and it's sordid past.
Although the story takes place in an imaginary world - Leadtown, a huge city-state inhabited by millions of people divided into districts - it's intended as a metaphoric representation of the world we live in - marked by vice, inequality, and hypocrisy. As the story plays out the listener is introduced to new characters and various districts of Leadtown, leading the main characters to an enigmatic ending, with an important morale.
"Genuine" is cinematic in scope, playing like an IMAX movie unspooling in your mind.
Unfortunately I received a bare bones promo copy without lyrics, so the story was a bit hard to follow. So for the listener, without benefit of lyrics, and the occasional unintelligible vocal delivery, the images projecting in your mind's eye become vague and incomplete. Which is a shame since the storyline of "Genuine" seems to be a thought provoking futuristic sci-fi morality play.
For metal fans Echotime checks all the correct boxes ... it's loud, aggressive, bombastic thrashing metal, extraordinary musicianship aplomb with light speed arpeggios and a thunderous rhythm section, and occasional piercing vocals (which can grate on me after a while) - but peppered throughout the recording are great orchestral and operetta choral arrangements which gives the album an expansive Cinemascope quality, as well a few light-hearted quirky Monty Pythonesque moments.
The line-up includes: Andrea Anastasi (Lead Guitars), Filippo Martignano ( Keyboards / Guitars), Alessandro Cangini (Lead Vocals), Federico Fazi (Drums), and Stefano Antonelli (Bass).
Highly recommended for prog metal fans.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on May 20th, 2014