Derdian is a symphonic power metal band based out of Milan, Italy. Although the band has been active since 1998 and have previously released four full length albums, I was not familiar with Derdian before checking out their latest, Human Reset.
While Derdian owe a musical debt of gratitude to fellow symphonic metallers Angra, Stratovarius, and (most notably) Rhapsody of Fire, among others, the band has chosen to leave the lyrical content of Dungeons and Dragons to their power metal counterparts, instead focusing on more “reality based” lyrical content while keeping the musical traditions of symphonic power metal intact with speedy double bass drums, fast paced, neo-classical melodies, soaring vocals, and bombastic keyboard passages and adding progressive elements and aggressive guitars to the mix.
Lead vocalist Ivan Giannini has a powerful voice that it perfectly suited for this style of music. His Italian accent is noticeable but not overly distracting and his phrasing is similar to power metal vocal legend Fabio Lione (Rhapsody of Fire, Angra, Vision Divine, Hollow Haze). The band is rounded out by Enrico Pistolese on guitars and vocals, Dario Radaelli on guitars, Marco Garau on keyboards, Marco Banfi on bass, and Salvatore Giordano on drums.
The pre-requisite orchestral symphonic intro track Eclipse starts the album with pomp and circumstance and blends into the first “proper” song Human Reset, a powerful, furious, and aggressive slab of power metal with melody and a galloping rhythm. The song has definite nods to Rhapsody, Helloween, and even Queen with their use of four part vocal harmonies. The next track In Everything keeps the fast pace with a neo-classical power metal flavor. The vocal melodies definitely keep the song flowing and interesting. The musicianship is jawdropping at times with the guitar duo of Pistolese and Radaelli showing their considerable chops. The song Mafia is a departure from the more traditional power metal with a more straightforward heavy metal style and progressive elements. Giannini’s vocal melodies and the chorus have a Vision Divine influence. These Rails Will Bleed opens with a solitary piano and quickly turns up the power metal with a short but sweet anthemic jam. Truthfully the album could use more of these shorter speedier numbers to keep things flowing without the listener becoming distracted. One of the albums stronger tracks Absolute Power has a majestic mid-tempo pace and progressive leanings and a grander scope within the song. Another song that is on the shorter side (clocking in at a little over 4 minutes) is Write Your Epitaph. The beginning riff to Music Is Life sounds like a musical ode to old school Helloween that packs a power metal punch with a solitary piano breakdown mid song that carries on for a several measures before bringing back the heavy guitar and drums. On Gods Don’t Give A Damn the progressive elements are given center stage with odd time signatures and complex arrangements, and a spotlight on some quality playing from rhythm section Banfi and Giordano. Keyboardist Garau tinkles the ivories on After The Storm, which has a slower pace (not quite power ballad territory but close) with strong passionate vocal melodies and a soaring anthemic chorus. A chugging (reminiscent of prog giants Dream Theater’s Metropolis Part 1) guitar rhythm starts off the heavy high-octane power metal speed of Alone complete with thrashing drum work, Yngwie-esque neo classical guitar melodies, and screaming vocals. Another instrumental track Delirium is short on time but packs a power metal punch before the albums final song My Life Back which definitely has a more “cinematic symphonic power metal” approach similar to Luca Turrili’s Rhapsody, with Giannini’s vocals even resembling Luca’s current vocalist Alessandro Conti’s voice on occasion.
In the final analysis of Human Reset, what Derdian is doing is neither terribly original nor groundbreaking, but they are extremely talented and have crafted an excellent symphonic power metal album that they can be proud of. The fact that this band is currently not signed to a record label is perplexing but given the current state of the music industry, more and more bands are doing things on their own and excelling at it so there is no reason that Derdian can’t rise to the next level of the symphonic power metal underground.