Mon. Oct 26th, 2020

REVIEW: Black Fate – Ithaca

Greek melodic progressive power metal outfit BLACK FATE have been around since the early 1990s but have released only three full-length albums and a compilation. Their latest albums, 2009’s “Deliverance of Soul” and 2014’s “Between Visions and Lies,” feature the vocal talents of Vasilis Georgiou. After having signed a record deal with Rockshots Records, BLACK FATE is getting ready to release their fourth studio effort, “Ithaca,” on 23 October 2020.

I have to start this review by addressing two subjects – how gorgeous and rich Vasilis Georgiou’s voice sounds and how well Gus Drax’s handles the guitar duties. Listening to the album, it feels like they are the main attractions, trading their time in the spotlight while the bass, drums, and keys act as support. Fans of SUNBURST already know the great chemistry that exists between these two musicians and it seems to be even more apparent on this album. Adding a layer of symphonic beauty and a dose of darkness to their already solid foundation of catchy hooks, haunting melodies, technical guitar riffs and solos, and top-notch vocals, “Ithaca” is everything one can expect from BLACK FATE and then some, as it shows maturity and growth from the band.

From the opening notes of “From Ashes & Dust,” the listeners get transported into an alternate, mythical world as whispers and sweeping strings set an ominous tone that is carried on throughout the twelve tracks. The album seems to draw inspiration from the Greek poem, “The Odyssey” (by Homer) and the title track, “Ithaca,” is a direct reference to this. In Greek mythology, the island of Ithaca was the home of King Odysseus and the place he desperately tries to get back to after the Trojan War. Pounding drums, beautiful backing keys, and intense guitar work detail this journey home and the listeners do feel like they are on an adventure. There’s also a melodic bridge where Vasilis Georgiou can really let loose, and a blistering solo that adds melody and charm to the track. Continuing on a mid-pace tempo, “Maze” is a more straightforward power metal track with great melodies and grooves, and a dark ambiance that is offset by the energy of the chorus. First single release, “Savior Machine,” features some symphonic elements that give the track a sense of elegance and grandeur, while the refrain is melodic and uplifting.

The guitar work takes a lead role in “Fortress of Solitude” as both the opening riff and the solo are superb while the drums and bass only emphasize Vasilis Georgiou’s dramatic delivery. As per its title, “Nemesis” is the antithesis of “Savior Machine,” featuring a gloomy ambiance and a foreboding though very catchy chorus section, while the symphonic elements add some moments of fleeting beauty. It feels like this trio of songs – “Savior Machine,” “Fortress of Solitude,” and “Nemesis” – detail Odysseus’ encounter with Circe and his stay on her island, Aeaea. In this light, the lyrics of “Fortress of Solitude” could be seen as Odysseus’ longing for Penelope and Ithaca, while the other two are Circe’s temptations (“Let me show you my Paradise”) and warnings (“I’m the hounds of Hell”). The dark atmosphere of the album is somewhat broken by the light and airy feel of both “Secret Place” and “Reach for the Stars,” with their subtle symphonic backgrounds, uplifting choruses, and beautiful, positive lyrics, though the instrumentals still deliver some powerful melodies.  

Showcasing their softer side, the emotional “Rainbow’s End” is the ballad of the album; it features acoustic guitars, gentle vocals, and delicate percussions and it’s a delight to listen to. Themis Koparanidis’s keyboard is more in focus on “One Last Breath,” making me wish it was featured more throughout the album. Both the guitar solo and the synth solo are groovy and complement each other quite well, while the vocals are soaring. One of the best choruses on the album is featured in “Queen of Shadows,” another track where Gus Drax gets to show his guitar skills by delivering an intense solo. Closing off the album is “Circle of Despair,” a track where again the synths take center stage, alongside the galloping guitars and melancholy vocals. It’s interesting to see how everything comes full circle, with the album ending in the same ominous manner it began.

Despite being a linear record, “Ithaca” still has plenty of surprises along the way from the lofty vocals to the tight rhythmic section, all the way to the guitar work and symphonic nuances. There’s a sense of poetic grace to be found on this album that will surely enchant the listeners. This album can easily act as a calling card of who BLACK FATE is in 2020, as it showcases the band in splendid form, delivering complex progressive power metal on the same level as KAMELOT or DAMNATION ANGELS.

Written by Andrea Crow

Tracklist

  1. From Ashes & Dust
  2. Ithaca
  3. Maze
  4. Savior Machine
  5. Fortress of Solitude
  6. Nemesis
  7. Secret Place
  8. Reach for the Stars
  9. Rainbow’s End
  10. One Last Breath
  11. Queen of Shadows
  12. Circle of Despair

Lineup

Vasilis Georgiou – vocals

Gus Drax – guitar

Vasilis Liakos – bass  

Nikos Tsintzilonis – drums

Themis Koparanidis – keyboards

Label

Rockshots Records

Links

Facebook.com/blackfategreece

Instagram.com/blackfate_official_funpage

https://spoti.fi/338a5TH

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