Symphonic power metal from Italy welcomes a new member to the club in Volturian a new project featuring the ethereal vocals of Federica Lanna (Sleeping Romance) and songwriter Federico Mondelli (Frozen Crown).
Back in 2013, I reviewed Enlighten from Sleeping Romance and was struck by the vocals of Federica Lanna and before learning anything about Volturian, I knew I had heard the vocals before. This time, Federica joins Federico Mondelli (Frozen Crown) in a new project that combines Federica’s vocals with symphonic metal elements and a good bit of electronic music. Finding information on foreign bands more than a month before their album drops is a bit of challenge. What we do know is that in addition to Federico, drummer Alberto Mezzanotte, and bass player Massimiliano Rossi are all from Frozen Crown and Frozen Crown vocalist Giada “Jade” Etro contributes vocals to “In a Heartbeat”. From the band’s perspective, this is obviously a terrible time to try to release any new material but the band is pushing on. On March 19th, the band posted how they were supposed to be filming a video but obviously in Italy, that was not going to be possible as the country was being ravaged by Covid-19. The band acknowledged basically all of their promotion for the album was going to be destroyed, but the encouraging feedback from the first single “New Life” encouraged them to keep pushing on.
The album opens up with a heavily electronica influenced intro track “Crimson Dust” which did make me wonder what was coming next. The band’s first single “New Life” followed that and while keyboards did open up the track there was a decidedly different tone and feel to them that was not electronica and then the guitars, drums, and bass came in to further dispel the notion of electronica. Federica’s vocals as they were 7 years ago when I reviewed Sleeping Romance, are amazingly smooth and strong. The drums of Alberto Mezzanotte, play a strong role in keeping the song moving and the addition of male death metal and screaming vocals contrast well with Federica’s vocals. From a production standpoint, one might expect everything to be very clean and it is, perhaps a bit too clean for the metal side of the overall sound, but very good nonetheless. At this point, I knew what to expect, and that would be bands like HB, Within Temptation, Delain, and even some Evanescence.
“Haunting Symphony” continues in the same vein as “New Life” and in this song again, I would have liked to have had the metal elements come through a bit more in the mix, which is dominated by Federica’s vocals, but I understand why that is. Federico Mondelli introduces some multi-layered guitar pieces in the song and they work very well to not only showcase his ability on guitar but also on arrangements and the song features a good catchy chorus and main riff.
“Broken” brings back some more of the electronica elements from the opening intro track as well as the screamed, gravelly male vocals from “New Life”. While normally not a fan of keyboards dominating the overall sound, the band manages to weave them in and out of the main component of the sound in a way that works very well. “The Killing Joke” goes full electronica for the intro before bringing in a metal support section adding much needed weight to the song and Federica’s near-spoken vocals in sections work really well. The way the guitars and rhythm section come in reminds me of some of the industrial metal heavyweights…if only it was a bit stronger in the mix. If it were me, I would have picked this track for the first single. “ In a Heartbeat” continues in this style of songwriting and arrangement with the electronica and keyboards dominating the overall sound from the beginning of the track, but this time the overall arrangement with the vocals reminds me a bit more of a pop song, while the music is obviously too heavy for that genre. Guest vocals from Giada “Jade” Etro (Frozen Crown) really add another level of complexity to the track and make me wonder how awesome a band would be with Federica and Giada sharing vocals. Side note: those who follow this genre should definitely check out Frozen Crown.
“Between the Sleepers” opens up with some great guitar work in a complicated riff, before quieting down to piano accompanying Federica for much of the verse section before the rest of the band comes in, making the song much more similar to other symphonic metal bands in terms of song arrangement. Federica’s vocals flow along with the song with an effortless grace and Federico’s guitar solo while somewhat restrained, fits perfectly with the song.
Interestingly, the band chooses to bring back the electronica elements more in the last three songs on the album although “Days Before You Died” is much like “The Killing Joke” in how the metal elements in their sound are used to add needed weight to the song. I do wish they were the dominant aspect to the overall sound, but that’s more of a personal taste than anything. The song itself is catchy and highlights the overall strength of the rhythm section. No matter what direction the songs take, Federica’s vocals adapt and change to fit in a way that seems so effortless and the songs are written and arranged in such a way that suits her perfectly.
By the time you get to “Forevermore” and “Fading Like a Flower” the songs do get to be a bit predictable in terms of arrangement, where you have an electronica or rarely a metal guitar opening, but then things quiet down to highlight Federica’s vocals for a bit until the full band comes back in. With that being said, the songs don’t become boring, retaining a certain catchiness that draws the listener in. Closing the album out with the Roxette cover “Fading Like a Flower” may seem like a bit of a risky move, but given Federica’s voice and Federico’s ability to create arrangements, this may be a stroke of genius.
Volturian have managed to bring together some very diverse elements and carve out their own niche in the symphonic metal genre. Although for me the electronica elements are a bit too dominant , the strength of the arrangements and the rhythm section, and of course, Federica’s vocals make this an album worth your time to check out.
Written by John Jackson
1. Crimson Dust
2. New Life
3. Haunting Symphony|4. Broken
5. The Killing Joke
6. In a Heartbeat (featuring Frozen Crown’s Giada “Jade” Etro)
7. Between the Sleepers
8. Days Before You Died
10. Fading Like a Flower (Roxette cover)
Federica Lanna – Vocals
Federico Mondelli – Guitars and Keyboards
Massimiliano Rossi – Bass
Alberto Mezzanotte – Drums
Release Date: April 24th. 2020
Record Label: Scarlet Records
Video for ‘New Life’