When it comes to metal, it’s fair to say that Italy isn’t exactly the biggest player in the genre. There are the odd names here and there – DESTRAGE, DOPE STARS INC, UFOMAMMUT – but nobody that’s really made a massive impact. That could all be about to change with OVERKHAOS. Formed in 2013 as ‘IMPERIUM‘ and hailing from Taranto on the south east coast, the five-piece’s debut album Beware of Truth dropped last Friday, recorded and mixed at Golem Dungeon Studios in Bari and their first material since a self-produced EP in 2015.
It’s clear from the off that if you like your metal coated in thick layers of bombast, pomp and circumstance, then you’re going to get on famously with this record. After a duelling guitar prelude that invokes feelings of latter-day AVENGED SEVENFOLD, the main opening track Silent Death is a fist-pumping, grandiose venture that will appease fans of both IRON MAIDEN and DREAM THEATER; follow up song Solar Starvation exhudes serious NIGHTWISH vibes in terms of guitar work and structure. It must be said that axemen Davide Giancane and Giuliano Zarcone are extremely competent musicians, a point proved moments later as the beginning of Khaos when their furious fretwork lights up the whole track. Other highlights include the soaring White Light and Anna’s Song, which features Derek Sherinan on guest keyboards (bringing a nice psychedelic edge to proceedings) and has no trouble getting heads banging and arms raise to the sky in euphoria.
There is one big problem, however, and it brings no pleasure to single out a single band member, but vocalist Mimmo D’oronzo is a real weak link. It’s worth pointing out here that it’s in no way down to his actual voice, because his range and tone are exemplary, perfectly suited to the style of music on show. The issue is his overall delivery – on a number of occasions he picks a vocal line that doesn’t quite work with what’s being played underneath and it has quite a profound impact on the song in question. Take Die Catsaw! for example, which could have had a rousing, anthemic chorus if D’oronzo had been a little more adventurous and really gone for it instead of taking things down a notch (mind you, it also suffers from some top notch cringe right at the start with those horrible ‘evil’ cackles). Then, there’s his death growls, which really don’t work in the slightest in the overall context of the album. There’s nothing wrong with trying something different, but in the grand scheme of things they just don’t fit with the music in the way OVERKHAOS would have hoped for. If they were dropped for the sophomore album few would be upset, and it would definitely be a positive move.
For a debut album, however, this is solid enough – there’s plenty of good ideas around and OVERKHAOS should feel proud that they’ve announced themselves to the world with a firm punch to the face. There’s room to improve for next time, but if they can get everything nailed down then they could easily be world-beaters.
Beware of Truth is out now via Rockshots Records.
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