It’s no secret that I love power metal; Finnish veterans Stratovarius a firm favourite. And so, when the first few bars of “Hypocrisy”, the first song on Impellitteri’s new album “The Nature of the Beast”, rang out, I was enthralled. Add to this lyrics that paint the world in dark hues, and you’ve got something captivating. Chris Impellitteri is a lauded lead guitarist, and is recognised in the media as one of the fastest guitarists in the shred style. Him, Marty Friedman and Paul Gilbert; all in the same league. On this album, Rob Rock is our “master of ceremonies”, and man, can he wail! His falsetto is perfection. Listen to the refrain, “Run for your life…” and you’ll know what I mean. The rhythm machine is anchored by James Pulli on bass, and propelled ever forward by Jon Dette on drums. Phew! This album is unrelenting.
The first couple of songs introduce the villains: there is the devil, the movie star, the werewolf, and the Phantom of the Opera. “Wonderworld” presents the listener with a future dystopia, a surveillance state bent on controlling the minds of civilians: “Computers taking over for you… Dependence on the virtual machine.” It made me think of George Orwell’s terrifying future visions in his book, “1984”. At the “Gates of Hell” a war is waged to end all wars!
When I listen to “Man of War”, I hear strains of Edvard Grieg’s “In the hall of the Mountain King”, from “Peer Gynt” in the opening guitar melody. This melodic shred is repeated in the bridge, where the band shouts, “Fight, fight!” right before Impellitteri launches into a stratospheric solo. Rock is calling for a hero: “Soldier of conscience, Lay down your life”. “Symptom of the Universe” is an apt cover to include in the mix. Like Tony Iommi, Impellitteri’s guitar work spits attitude, and he then ladles some fancy fingerwork over the top for good measure. The dive bomb that ends the song is glorious! The only thing I’m missing is that acoustic folk/flamenco about turn present in the original.
If I have to level criticism, it would be to the above point. That about turn in Black Sabbath’s original is like, “Whoa, what?!” While Impellitteri brings the whole guitar-driven power metal nine yards, I miss the surprise songwriting quirks. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not hankering after the garage days aesthetic. It’s just that “The Nature of the Beast” summits early, and then maintains a steady (fast) speed.
While the lyrics evoke a dark mood, light penetrates the darkness: “When the darkness surrounds you / Close at hand, when the demons call your name / Face your fear – Kill the beast”. I love the run towards the end of the song. It holds a lot of power.
The sweep picking on the final song, “Shine On” is unreal! Despite the odds, “Shine on… Can’t you see there’s power in the heart of freedom…” I remember the agony, watching horror films as a teenager. That cold sweat as you anticipate the inevitable demise of the hapless victim. But in the end, human ingenuity triumphs against the odds and suddenly day to day living doesn’t seem so bad. I conclude the same after listening to “Nature of the Beast”.
This high production value album scores 9/10.
Written by Karakul
3. Run for Your Life
4. Phantom of the Opera
5. Gates of Hell
6. Wonder World
7. Man of War
8. Symptom of the Universe
9. Do You Think I’m Mad
10. Fire It Up
11. Kill the Beast
12. Shine On
Chris Impellitteri – lead guitar
Rob Rock – vocals
James Pulli – bass
Jon Dette – drums
Record Label: Frontiers Records
Impellitteri (EP, 1987)
Stand in Line (full-length, 1988)
Grin and Bear It (full-length, 1992)
Victim of the System (EP, 1993)
Answer to the Master (full-length, 1994)
Screaming Symphony (full-length, 1996)
Fuel for the Fire (EP, 1997)
Eye of the Hurricane (full-length, 1997)
Crunch (full-length, 2000)
System X (full-length, 2002)
Pedal to the Metal (full-length, 2004)
Wicked Maiden (full-length, 2009)
Venom (full-length, 2015)
The Nature of the Beast (full-length, 12 October 2018)
Video for ‘Symptom Of The Universe’
Video for ‘Run For Your Life’