ANGELI DI PIETRA, the Belgian Folk/Power Metal band, released its debut album, “Storm Over Scaldis”, two years ago. Prior to that a few demos were put out and several gigs were played to get the name out and acquire a fanbase. Like before, the band presented its album not only by means of a gig, but also at the Metalzone shop in Antwerp, their hometown. You can read about that at this location. I also wrote. “Anthems Of Conquest” is the title of the follow-up and was put on the 3rd June, although originally it should have already seen the light of day in May. ANGELI DI PIETRA again occupied the Excess Studios in The Netherlands to record, produce and mix the album, but mastering was this time done by Jacob Hansen. This should then result in a more powerful sound, of course.
“Anthems Of Conquest” holds 13 tracks, of which 5 are instrumental interludes. Starting off with “Last Flight Of The Valkyries”, where you’re welcomed by the hymnic chorus vocals, before pounding Folk/Power Metal sets in. Guy’s grunts are dominant in the verses, while Sjoera’s angelic chanting form the bridge to the chorus. Once there, both vocal types unite, assisted by the typical humpa kind of music. The middle section is where the band takes a different direction. A calm piece with piano leads, but the guitars aren’t that far away. When it’s solo time, it’s solo time indeed. That’s at least one aspect that was given lots of attention during the song writing sessions. And so the song flows onwards to its normal structure again. Already in this first song it is without question that melody was a key ingredient. “Gates Of Time” is a more ballsy song, where pounding Metal aggression comes rushing out of the speakers. This increased heaviness, throughout the song, is welcome. Vocally it’s Sjoera who’s in charge, though Guy comes in to counter (or complement, depending on how you consider it). To break the song in two, it’s the solo that takes up the vacant space before all returns to normal. However, there is another heavy instrumental piece near the end with a focus on the drums. While it sounds nice, it was not needed, in my opinion.
Via the “Gates Of Time” we arrive in “The Desert” in the “Fate Of The Promised Land”, a song about the Crusades. An intro with appropriate music, to neatly connect with the pounding, devastating force that is “Mark Of The Scimitar”. The galopping verses have female lead vocals, with an Eastern touch, while the grunts are more used as accents. The Eastern touch can also be found in the guitar input. Keyboards make their entry again to provide leads in a first instant, after which the guitar takes over command for the solo. And to make the musical picture complete, the acoustic guitar makes a short appearance too before all reverts backs to verses and chorus. Speaking of which, the chorus is short and to the point. “Mark Of The Scimitar” ends well, it doesn’t sound or feel as stretched as “Gates Of Time”. Leaving the battlefield, the band travels onwards “Towards New Shores”, another interlude. Here an orchestral approach was applied with flute, bells, strings… the lot. It sounds quite filmscore-like, almost like taken from a fantasy Disney film. on those shores the “Buccaneers” reside. This song offers galopping melodic Folky Power Metal in vein of e.g. FALCONER, TÝR, TURISAS and so on. This is classy epic Power Metal with some orchestral touches later on. What’s important about this track are the catchy melodies. It’s one of those songs that were written to played live, where I’m sure it will do great! And so is the singing, by both vocalists.
The beginning of “Anthem Of Conquest” makes you believe the entire track will be as calm and serene, which is nice for a change. But then it transforms into a fast, melodic Power Metal entity… with some slowing down here and there. Soloing is vital, obviously, but it’s foremost about heavy and aggressive riffing. Tasty! “I Am Spartacus” starts with a sample from the film, the man introducing himself and so on. The music comes bursting in, fast, furious and with a solo. The pounding verses have Sjoera on lead vocals. In the last instant she even takes out her soprano voice. Guy grunts his way through the second part of the verses. There’s an acoustic piano break before the chorus (where the piano also plays a role), where the music again takes on a hymnic character. Grunts lead, female singing backs it. I found the song’s ending (= slide) rather strange. Maybe I should relisten to it a few times to see why it was done, or perhaps it was an idea of either Gaël or Kevin. In any case, ANGELI DI PIETRA have not disappointed yet. On the contrary, they have surprised in a positive way, as you could already gather from my little report on the listening session.
“The Battle Of Camlann” is another catchy Folk/Power Metal tune, in vein of e.g. ENSIFERUM. Female lead vocals in the verses, while grunts take on the second part there. The music also increases in tempo then. Keyboards provide perfect backing for Sjoera’s vocals, right before the guitar solo. The chorus is as before. We’re dealing with a Folk-influenced Metal band, so… This song is also a good example of how the balance between melody and power is worked out. “Avalon” is another instrumental and another very nice one, too. Acoustic and serene at first, later with keyboards, orchestral elements and even choir vocals. This leads smoothly to “Boadicea”. A calm start with violent bursts… tension rises! Dark, Folky midtempo Power Metal comes in. Grunts lead, but when Sjoera’s angelic singing falls in, the music also becomes more powerful and the pace quickens. This dark and vicious feel can also be found in the chorus. This song stands out from the others because the band gave it a Gothic touch, in vein of AFTER FOREVER, SYLVER MYST and similar. Furthermore there’s enough room for instrumental talk and solos. I do like to add that I found this song less good or attractive. It’s still a good song, make no mistake, but perhaps it needs a few more listens to be appreciated as it should.
ANGELI DI PIETRA offered a variety of subjects on their debut “Storm Over Scaldis” and it’s no different on “Anthems Of Conquest”. Hence the song “Onwards To Asgaard”. It seems almost a must for a Folk-inspired Metal band to have at least one song about Norse or Germanic mythology. Otherwise this is usually the domain of AMON AMARTH, MOONSORROW, TÝR, ENSIFERUM, MÅNEGARM, UNLEASHED, FEJD, and more. But back to Belgium. In this before-last song you get uptempo Folk/Power Metal like FALCONER brings it, especially the uptempo verses (with grunts) reminded me of that Swedish band. The music slows down in the chorus, where the Folk touch is big. The solos are again well done and there’s even a moment for the bass, what a surprise! “Remembrance” ends the album with an instrumental track. Acousticness reigns, there’s even a flute, but as the seconds tick away, the whole becoems on epic and bombastic unity, which is just… pure awesomeness!
“Storm Over Scaldis” was/is a very decent album, but it’s not ANGELI DI PIETRA at its best. Live of course the band delivers the goods. Now with their second album,”Anthems Of Conquest”, the band should deliver them even more or much better. The songs are well written, catchy where needed and intricate where wanted. The band has its own style, its own sound and it comes out better with Jacob Hansen’s final touch. If anyone still doubted the skills and integrity of this Belgian formation, check out”Anthems Of Conquest”, for they have improved a lot and are on the right path to the international stages. It can only get (even) better from here.
- Last Flight of The Valkyries
- Gates Of Time
- Fate Of The Promised Land – The Desert
- Fate Of The Promised Land – Mark Of The Scimitar
- Towards New Shores
- Anthem Of Conquest
- I Am Spartacus
- The Battle Of Camlann
- Onwards To Asgaard
Sjoera Roggeman – vocals
Guy Van Campenhout – vocals
Gael Sortino – guitars
Quevin Smeyers – guitars
Kurt Hermans – bass
Vincent Pichal – drums
[xrr rating=4/5 =”Rating: “]