Well, this autumn, female fronted metal bands have become like London buses to your intrepid reporter, you wait for ages for one and then three turn up at once. Hot on the heels of Riseback and Leave’s Eyes come Heretic’s Dream. Now, when a band tells me that they play a type of music that can’t be labelled, I tend to get a little suspicious, could it be that they have no true musical direction and, play a mish-mash of genres that doesn’t fit together in any way or form? Or, is it that the music they play is just so damn awful it doesn’t deserve to categorised as music in any sense of the word? In no uncertain sense, it is a dark art and not everyone can make it work, however, some bands manage to pull it off and can play a fluid mix of rock, metal, prog, goth and anything else that they can wave their magic wands at.
Heretic’s Dream are, nominally, a 5 piece prog band from London and Rome that cannot easily be labelled as playing any one type of rock music. Their music is hard rock, alternative, progressive and metal, combining unusual and complex rhythms with a fierce energy, making it unique. The line up consists of Francesca Di Ventura (lead vocals), Adrej Surace (lead guitar and backing vocals), Carlo Nicolucci (rhythm guitar), Jacopo Greci (bass) and Maurilio Di Stefano. A heavy gigging schedule has seen them play over 60 shows in 18 months and gained them a burgeoning reputation. This has garnered them an ever increasing fan base leading to the release of their debut album The Unexpected Move in 2012 and, now, in 2013 their new release, Walk the Time. Let us see if it contains the melodic mainstream sound and diverse influences that could see it shine against the musical mediocrity.
A clever, distorted riff kicks in Outcasted before the track takes on a hypnotic feel, vocals swirling around your head, staccato guitar backing that haunting melody. There is a really catchy chorus with that hard edged guitar always butting in, an appreciative raise of the eyebrows greets a nicely worked vocal and guitar section, the song closing out with another rocking riff and I like what I hear so far. Chains of Blood and Behind the Mirror are much more rooted in the world of melodic metal, crunching guitar, swirling keyboards and pounding drums all combining before things take a more pared back approach with low key vocals and a nicely muted guitar. The choruses are purely bombastic affairs, towering guitars backing the ever rising vocal perfectly. Really cool solos with brilliant fretwork stand out and make them both super smooth tracks. Dreams Falling heads back to the heavier prog metal style of the first track, another, brilliant, slightly distorted riff and austere vocals (even a bit of growling thrown in) adding to the insistent edge that the song carries, nicely judged keyboards added to the mix in all the right places. Once more, the strong chorus works well with the rest of the track. Need to take a step back and take a breath? No problem, Believing in You is an acoustic gem with cool guitar, silky vocals and floating pan pipes giving a pervading aura of peacefulness to the proceedings. I love the fading in of the intro to Shockwave, another glossy slice of melodic rock with a serious pop edge to it as if someone has thrown Muse and U2 into the mix. The ever classy vocal and snazzy guitar stop the song from veering to far towards the mediocrity of mainstream pop and the solo is just razor sharp without being too flashy (you’ve got to have some flashiness haven’t you?).
Fighting Time sees Heretic’s Dream slowing everything down again, lush vocals paired with a subtle acoustic guitar giving a suitably polished feel, the powerful chorus counterbalances the rest of the song with a rising, dominant guitar note and forceful duet from Francesca and Adrej. The song becomes more of a power ballad as the harder guitar and mighty vocal take more prominence. Prog metal is back with a bang a with thunderous riff and menacing keyboards powering into Connections, a darker vocal intertwined with the staccato riffing and pounding drums all add to the obdurate feel. A short, unwieldy solo has the perfect feel of the song. Acoustic guitar, 70’s prog keyboards and effects heavy vocals all give an ethereal feel to the start of The Broken Silence, the delightful violin and rich vocal performance adds to that luxurious feel. A dynamic guitar guides you to a really emotional solo that works really well due to its seemingly odd time signature. Before the Storm takes the band back to their melodic rock style, steady riff, impeccable vocals, perhaps the most formulaic and, therefore, least impressive track on the album. The album closes with The Next Level, the cool, staccato riff and one more strong vocal performance from Francesca lifting this track above the norm. The overall feeling of urgency added to some impressive, almost raw feeling, guitar and superb drumming is perfectly suited to the song, an impressive final stroke.
There is always a chance that, when you mix such a diversity of musical styles on one album that, the end product can end up having a muddled, incomprehensible feel. I feel that Heretic’s Dream have run close to the wind on a couple of occasions with Walk the Line but, overall, it is a very good album that, due to its diversity, will appeal to a disparate band of music fans. Outstanding in places and good everywhere else, I really enjoyed and it definitely gets my recommendation.