You don’t find many European prog/power metal bands featuring a priest, so when you do find one, it’s worth checking out. Metatrone is such a band and the presence of the priest shows itself in not only the band name and album name but also in the cover which depicts what Catholics will recognize as the sacred Host (Sacramental bread) in a metal setting.
Metatrone is a Sicilian band based in Catania, Italy that boasts of having a priest on keyboards in Fr. Davide Bruno. The band’s roots trace back to 1997 under the name Metafora, who recorded an ep that contains the song “Una Parte di Me”, re-recorded for Eucharismetal. Metafora ceased to be a band in 2001 when Fr. Davide Bruno decided to join the priesthood and the band changed their name to Metatrone, which they explain as meaning “God is since now and forever”. In 2005 the band released their first album La Mano Potente and later the English version The Powerful Hand. At this point, the band began touring globally and played the Elements of Rock festival twice, along with Tumbalong Park and World Youth Day. The band then released Paradigma in 2010 featuring songs in English, Spanish, Latin, and Italian and received good reviews in mainstream publications like Metal Hammer Italy and Metal Maniac. Original members Tony Zappa and Virgilio Ragazzi have been replaced by Dino Fiorenza on bass (Bill Sheehan, Steve Vai) and Salvo “T-Metal” Grasso on drums for the recording of Eucharismetal, which began recording in late 2015.
Given that background, it should be no surprise the album focuses on Christian themes and has vocals in various songs that span the languages of English, Italian, and Latin (as far as I can tell). Production on the album is very clean and overall mixing is such that the vocals are distinct as are the instruments for the most part, although some may argue the keyboards may be a bit too prominent or guitars too quiet in some sections. Given the obvious language barriers, there is some challenge in deciphering the lyrics, especially as the vocals are sometimes more like death metal growls than the clean vocals normally in power/prog metal.
Musically, the majority of the songs start out with keyboards and though there is a bit of a progressive metal component in some songs, the entire 13 song album is only 65 minutes long, so the songs in general are not overly long and complex. The clean vocals of Jo Lombardo have a great strong tone and emotion to them with a good range as well. The growled vocals in songs like “Molokai” just don’t seem to work for me and do detract a bit from the songs but overall the songs are still very listenable and worth a listen.
The instrumental “Mozart’s Nightmare” give the band a chance to shine on their own and immediately brings to mind some of the instrumentals Rainbow was known for. That similarity is mostly in the style and form as there is a good interplay between the two throughout the song while the rhythm section carries things along admirably. The general sound of the keyboards and guitars, however is not similar to Blackmore and crew, and that is fine as Stefano Calvagno and Fr. Bruno have their own identities as players. On various songs on the album, I noticed some good bass lines and there are a few brief glimpses of that in this instrumental as well.
The song “Latest News from Light” which is also the first video from the album does provide a good overview of what is on the rest of the album, featuring driving guitars, strong clean vocals, the growled vocals, and some good guitar and keyboard solo work. At times there is a Geoff Tate (Queensryche) feel to the vocals, especially if you can remember back to Operation:Mindcrime.
The last five songs on the album go mostly non-English, so that may be a struggle for some but musically, things continue as found on the rest of the album. As is often the case, I would imagine these songs simply wouldn’t translate well into English and be able to keep the same vocal flow and dynamics so keeping them in the native tongue makes sense and actually enhances the listening experience. As a fan of Deep Purple/Rainbow, I especially appreciate the trading guitar and keyboard solos in “Una Parte Di Me”.
One of the more different songs on the album is “Regina Coeli” which starts out with some haunting female vocals accompanied by keyboard accents and then the rest of the band comes in with what sounds like a full choir on vocals, which in some ways almost gives this a medieval, folk metal feel. Jo Lombardo comes in to deliver the verses with the choir handling the chorus, giving the song a majestic, large feel.
Written by John Jackson
01. Alef Dalet Mem
03. Beware The Sailor
04. Wheat And Weeds
05. Latest News From Light
06. In Spirit And Truth
07. Mozart’s Nightmare
08. Keep Running
09. Salva l’Anima
10. Una Parte Di me
11. Regina Coeli
12. Alef Dalet Mem (Italian Version – Bonus Track)
13. Lascia Che Sia (Bonus Track)
Jo Lombardo – Lead vocals
Stefano “Ghigas” Calvagno – Guitars/vocals
fr. Davide Bruno – Keyboards/growls
Dino Fiorenza – Bass
Salvo “T-Metal” Grasso – Drums
“La Mano Potente” (2006 )
“The Powerful Hand” (2006)
“Reborn in Christ” Single (2009)
“Passione” Single (2012)
“Heavenly Field” Single (2013)
Record Label: Rockshots Music, March 2016
Interview with Stefano “Ghigas” Calvagno (April 2016)
Video below: ‘Latest News From Light’
Video below: ‘Alef Dalet Mem’
Video below: ‘Molokai’