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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Giuntini Project

III

Review by Gary Hill

II saw a show on metal the other day (a rather cool documentary). In it Rob Zombie says something to the effect that no one can create anything new in heavy metal as far as riffs because Black Sabbath (and specifically Tony Iommi) already did all the cool ones. He said that you can speed them up, slow them down or whatever, but either way you have to rip them off from Sabbath. Well, one listen to this album would probably confirm that. This thing is a very classic metal sounding album. There are elements of Dio, Judas Priest, Uriah Heep, Ozzy solo and more, but the sound that predominates is that of Heaven and Hell era Black Sabbath. This disc might not be the most original thing you’ve ever heard, but when it comes to metal, perhaps it all really has been done before. Well, if that’s the case, these guys do a great job of reproducing it in their own image.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Gold Digger
When the guitar line on this one kicks in you might think that you’ve popped in a classic Judas Priest album. The main riff on this one is right in line with something they would have put out in the ‘80’s. As the verse takes over you might think that you are hearing Ronnie James Dio, but a little bit of harder listen should reveal that the singer on this project is none other than Tony Martin – who also served as Black Sabbath’s vocalist for a period of time. This one has a more melodic, ‘80’s metal sound on the verse and chorus, but that opening JP-like riff reappears at points and the guitar solo segment simply screams. This is classic melodic metal revisited with style.
Not Connected
Heavy and frantically fast, feeling like the best technical European epic metal, this one stomps in. Still melodic, but a lot less “pop” oriented, this one is tasty. They still manage to pull it up into a hair metal type chorus, though. This one has a lot of meat on its bones nonetheless, and I really like the vocal performance on this one. I have to say, though, that the guitar solo is on this one, while having some tasty segments, gets a bit noodly at points.
Que Es La Vida
The third song in is usually where the ballad is slipped in. Well, you might think at first that that’s what we have going on here. This bass heavy number, though, reminds me a lot of Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell.” In fact, the first line is “What is the difference between heaven and hell?” Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a carbon copy, but if you can listen to this one and not have that cut come into your mind you’re doing better than me. This one is the strongest piece to date, though. Rather than bring in the hair metal textures on the chorus they power it out into an epic metal approach. This one is just plain awesome. I even hear some vintage Uriah Heep on the chorus here. Martin puts in another awesome performance here. 
Early Warning
Jagged fast paced metal straight out of the Jake E. Lee playbook starts this one off. They keep that mode going on the track. I hear more of an epic metal approach on the chorus. Overall this one is another of the strong pieces here, even if it’s a bit generic. The guitar soloing on this one is quite tasty and steers just clear of wandering into the noodle zone.
Fool Paradise
After an odd short introduction – operatic voices in a crowd sort of sound, this one jumps into another Heaven and Hell era Sabbath type jam. That said, the guitar playing feels more like Jake E. Lee. I guess you could say that what you’ve got is Ronnie James Dio (yeah, I know it’s Tony Martin, but he really sounds like Dio on this one) singing on a song with a Black Sabbath arrangement and Lee taking the lead guitar duties. The noisy guitar solo segment is one of the best on the disc and really elevates this song to a point near the top of this disc.
Tutmosis IV – Tarantula
The first half of this song is basically symphonic movie soundtrack type sounds. It isn’t the best thing on show here, but definitely brings a different texture to the album. Later, though, this screams out into a smoking guitar shred-fest. Thankfully the emphasis is on tasty riffing rather than noodly fire. That’s not to say that there isn’t some speed and flash here, but the focus is on neo-classical lines with melody firmly infused.
Anno Mundi (The Vision)
A mellow ballad-like approach starts this and then choir like vocals come in with Latin vocals. Martin pulls in his vocals over the top and again I feel like this cut could have fit nicely on Sab’s Heaven and Hell album. The ballad-like structure holds the song for about a minute then they crunch out with an awesome riff that again feels very much like something Tony Iommi would have created. This one is quite dynamic and very powerful. They really do keep that Sab sound throughout, but they make some nice modifications on it.
Disfunctional Kid
I don’t know if the dysfunctional spelling of “dysfunctional” is intentional, but either way I like it. This is a fast paced jam that feels a lot like Motorhead – if Ronnie James Dio (OK, it’s Martin, but man – this is another point where he really reminds me of Dio) were singing for Motorhead. The chorus is a bit too polished in an eighties metal way, but still the killer fast paced riff on this would win out with just about anything going alongside it. The lyrics on that chorus (“Disfunctional kid from a f***ed up family”) certainly wouldn’t earn it radio play, either. This is one of the highlights on show. It has some of the tastiest guitar soloing of the whole disc, too. 
Mourning Star
A mysterious epic texture leads this one off in fine fashion. As they drop it back to the verse segment the comparisons to Dio are strong. The chorus segment, though, falls more into the Black Sabbath range of sounds. The guitar soloing on this one again threatens, without quite delivering, noodle creation. 
Trouble Just Keeps Coming
A more galloping guitar line starts this one off, but the ’80’s metal textures pervade this. Still, it feels a bit like Dio mainly due to the vocal arrangement. Once more the wall of sound vocal arrangement on the chorus is a bit heavy handed (ie, too polished for me). Still, this cut is reasonably strong. It’s just not a standout.
The Closest Thing To Heaven
A heavy, mysterious textured jam starts this off. The vocals on the intro, with their Gregorian chant sort of sound are a nice touch. Martin’s vocals again call to mind Dio, but overall this is one of the more unique tracks on the disc. It has some more of those Sabbath elements, too. The thing is, Martin delivers the most evocative performance of the entire album, and I think I’d say this is my favorite track on show here. It’s just about worth the price of admission by itself. 
Memories In The Sand
The second (and final) instrumental on the disc, balladic guitar sounds start this one off accompanied by some keyboard like effects. Over this backdrop Giuntini begins weaving waves of evocative lead lines. The cut builds in a gradually rising manner and becomes more and more complex and powerful. I’d have to say that this is another of the most original pieces on show here, and also one of the best. The man can truly coax drama and emotion from his fret board. I’m reminded of the old slogan for the Superman movie (the old one) “You’ll believe a man can fly.” Well, in this case you’ll believe a guitar can sing. Put this with the track before it and this becomes a “must have” album for fans of hard rock and metal. 
Tarot Warrior
OK, this one might get bonus (huh?) points for generic title. The thing is, the Judas Priest sounds are back in high gear here. And this stomper makes for a great disc closer. This manages to pull in some more of that hair metal sound on the chorus, but it’s a lot easier to take on this one than some of the other songs. This is a good closer, and might be the best choice on the disc for that spot. 
 
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