Instrumental guitar albums can be a tough sell, even for legends like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. Entering into this realm is Antonello Giliberto from Siracusa in Sicily. As is the case with many of the rock guitar greats, including the likes of Ritchie Blackmore and Yngwie Malmsteen, Antonello was influenced early on by classical music and in his case especially JS Bach. In 2005, he enrolled in the Guitar Academy in Sicily and eventually joined the teaching staff there and is currently teaching at many locations throughout Italy. When not teaching, he plays over 100 concert dates a year across Southern Italy with his band Blue Train.
“Equinox” opens up the album with a soft classical bit of acoustic guitar that is rather quickly drowned out by the electric guitar and rest of the instruments as a nice metal riff kicks in. From a song structure standpoint, this is familiar territory to those who listen to metal. The challenge in an instrumental album is maintaining the listener’s attention and the intricate riffing in the background of the song is definitely something to appreciate. The video certainly doesn’t do the song justice as most of the clip is focused on the main melody, which is nowhere near as cool as the background riff. Influences I hear coming through in much of the song are certainly Yngwie Malmsteen and not surprisingly Ritchie Blackmore. Often guitar instrumental albums are so clean they seem almost computer generated and one thing I like about this song is that the main riff has a somewhat dirty feel to it that is lacking in the guitar instrumental albums I’ve heard.
Variety is often something that is a key aspect to instrumental albums, especially guitar instrumentals where the guitarist often seems to be trying to impress the listener more than anything. “Lotus Effect” opens up with some middle-eastern type sound and some accompanying vocals before launching into a somewhat dark and again somewhat dirty sounding metal riff, that again could be out of a Ritchie Blackmore playbook. This is not a bad thing and isn’t a ripoff of Blackmore’s sound or riffs by any means but the influence is unmistakable. Some of the short solos in this song I really enjoyed as well as there is a sense of abandon, a feeling as if control is being lost.
The title track “The Mansion of Lost Souls” is one where Antonello’s playing really shines. The song itself even has the feel of a real band in sections with the addition of some lead harmonies. In this song, I’m even picking up some Iron Maiden influence in some of the riffs and the Malmsteen-like sweeping arpeggios are readily apparent and cleverly blended into the song so they don’t look like additions simply for the point of showing guitar prowess.
“Sorrow” is primarily a classical guitar piece that provides the listener with a chance to relax and recover from the previous metal tracks, as do “Entr’Act” and “Dream of the Dead Tree”. Each of these songs carry a very different, relaxing almost atmosphere to them although the guitar playing in “Dream of the Dead Tree” is simply phenomenal, fast, and complicated.
Throughout the album the backing bass and drums are certainly there and show some potential for making significant contributions to the overall sound and impression from the album but somewhat disappointingly, they are really kept from the spotlight. If Antonello could find some equally or at least very talented backing musicians to collaborate with the end product would be quite impressive.
Strangely enough, the album ends on a relatively quiet note with “Commiato” that could really leave the listener with a bad impression if that is what they take away. I ascribe this to the general difficulty in putting together an instrumental guitar album. To me, they typically seem to run too long and become overwhelming to the listener, who struggles to fully comprehend all of what has been heard over the course of the songs. To me the striking difference in this album is the overall tone and approach to the songs. The riffs are darker, dirtier, and more melodic than I’ve typically heard on these types of albums and that restraint and some restraint in the length and abundance of solos actually makes the album stronger and more listenable. There is no questioning Antonello’s talent and it would be awesome to see him end up in a regular metal band.
2. Lotus Effect
3. The Mansion of Lost Souls
5. Flight of the Sleeper
7.The Power of the Whip
8. Dream of the Dead Tree
9. Rise of the Titans
10. Ballade No. 3
11. The Ride
Antonello Giliberto –Guitars and all instruments
Record Label: Independent, May 2013
Video below “The Mansion of Lost Souls” [Album Preview]
Video below ‘Equinox’ [Full Song]