Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Choirs Of Veritis - I Am The Way, The Truth And The Life
   
Musical Style: Symphonic Metal Produced By: Davide Scuteri
Record Label: Underground Symphony Country Of Origin: Italy
Year Released: 2017 Artist Website:
Tracks: 12 Rating: 75%
Running Time: 58:31

Choirs Of Veritis - I Am The Way, The Truth And The Life

It’s easier to find an honest politician these days than a symphonic metal band with a male lead vocalist, but Milan, Italy’s Choirs Of Veritis and its spring of 2017 Underground Symphony Records debut I Am The Way, The Truth And The Life defies the trend.  A Google search of the subject reveals pickings to be slim to none, with the exception the occasional extreme metal growl and norm most symphonic metal bands fronted by women, with the usual ‘suspects’ coming into play: Nightwish, Epica, Within Temptation, Delain, Leaves Eyes, HB, LEAH and a host of others.  One of the few anomalies that I am aware is Promise Land, whom features the gruff and earthy duel male vocalist tandem of Rod Kozikowski and David Michael on its 2014 debut Harmony In Ruins.  I found the approach a welcome change of pace, noting how (from my 75% review of Harmony In Ruins) ‘the gritty male vocals lends a dimension not always seen within the symphonic metal genre and helps set Promise Land further apart as a result’.    

The same applies with Choirs Of Veritis, but there are exceptions.  Whereas the previously noted potentially fall under the symphonic metal heading, Choirs Of Veritis, a group whose moniker draws from John 14:6 and literally means ‘Choirs Of Truth’ in Latin, impresses more as symphonic rock as opposed to metal.  No doubt Choirs Of Veritis brings all the ‘trimmings’ inherent to the symphonic genre in the form of atmospheric keyboards, choir vocals, classical overtures and orchestral arrangements, but the problem is that production places such an emphasis on said trimmings that guitars do not always make the impact that they should.  The repercussion is that no matter how good the Choirs Of Veritis material might be it ends up bereft of the more powerful (and interesting) impact if guitars had been allowed to play a more forthright role.

Equally notable is the manner in which Choirs Of Veritis front man Davide Schiavi contrasts with the lower register flavorings of Kozikowski and Michael in highlighting a decided middle to upper ranger instead.  In terms of specifics, Schiavi reminds me of Ken Pike (Malachia, Vision, Absolon) but with nowhere near the same three and a half-octave range.  Accept this as neutral observation and not critique (how many three and a half octave range vocalists are you aware?) in that I find Schiavi a technically solid performer, although I share the sentiment of other reviewers that he struggles with consistency when it comes to maintaining high notes.  Where I separate myself from the critical consensus, however, is that I welcome the operatic mezzo-soprano presence of Eliana Sanna, whom plays a co-lead vocalist role in helping lend a dramatic if not rock opera feel to the album.

Minute long keyboard interlude piece “God First” gets the album off to a strong start, particularly in light of its ‘When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place’ voice over at the end.

“Ask Him” highlights the intricately layered and textured nature to the Choirs Of Veritis songwriting.  The song rolls forward from the start with bass and piano conveying the grandiose verses, which strategically trade off with periodic lofty choir vocals.  Refrain maintains the august demeanor but with heightened symphonic keyboards.  At this point, it deserves note the proficient keyboard work of Davide Scuteri, whom proves himself as fine a performer you will find within the genre.  That said the albums production limitations also reveal themselves in that this is one of many tracks in which keyboards end up overshadowing guitars.

“The Searching” starts to a brief keyboard solo before taking off in upbeat fashion.  The song maintains the briskly moving disposition its length, not speed metal but accelerated nonetheless as the bands high-energy propensity makes its fitting presence felt.  This is the first of several songs here in which Sanna shines with her operatic harmonizing in the backdrop.  Instrumentally, an extended break features a keyboard and lead guitar duel.

“Thank You” plays a customary ballad role and quite well at that.  The song comes across richly done, elegantly drifting its five minutes to layered vocal melodies interspersed with prevalent keyboards and orchestration.  The use of flute allows a pleasing medieval effect.

Album returns to up-tempo territory on “Vanitas Vanitatum”.  I detect a light Sacred Warrior essence in that this is one of the albums heavier cuts - rhythm guitar is allowed to rise above the mix - not to mention a sustaining bass line and a technical instrumental proclivity.  Church organ carries the first instrumental section and dashing lead guitar the second.  One thing that Sacred Warrior has never attempted, however, is adding mezzo-soprano vocals to the refrain!

“Miracles” ups momentum to speed metal levels.  What we have is a front to back barnburner, with a short drum solo at the start followed by complementary double bass (courtesy of Federico Paulovich) and the spirited keyboards to match.  The gist is a setting on the grandiose if not turbulent side of things (think Narnia or some of Theocracy’s faster material).

Contrasting with its slower, mid-paced heading, “Religiosity” proves a driving hard rocker guided by a thick and weighty low end and complementary shadowy ambience, but also with plenty of mezzo-soprano harmonizing lightening the nebulous scene.  I particularly enjoy the woodwind-like feel to the keyboard solo adorning the instrumental interlude.  Over halfway through the album and one cannot help but appreciate the diversity Choirs Of Veritis brings to the table.

Hence, the variances to the albums progressive laced title track.  The song begins to grand piano before taking off at an elevated clip, but just when you begin to think it is another speed metal romp, impetus descends to the tranquility of its still done opening verses.  Momentum gradually reestablishes over the next several minutes until things explode for the climactic “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’ refrain.  Both keyboard and guitar solos lead the way instrumentally.

“A New Commandment” ranks with my favorites from its creative use of flute (by Alessandro Baglioni), which brings to mind a slightly heavier version to AD (the post Kansas prog group of Kerry Livgren).  Yes, rhythm guitar makes its presence felt (another reason I embrace the song) as does another front to back high-energy tempo.  Of all the albums material this one best embodies the power metal heading.

Light commercial traces highlights semi-ballad “The Passion And The Cross”.  The song stands out with its generous melding of melody and emotion, as found in its abundant harmonies and grand piano not to mention albums most engaging refrain.  Also note is the spoken word portion halfway through to feature narration from Mark 14:36, which helps lend to the histrionic atmosphere at hand.  Overall, a great song that rates with the best I have heard this year (I would encourage the group to release it as a single/lyric video).

“He Has Come To Forgive” receives the full on ballad treatment, with orchestration, piano and flute leading the way until impetus picks up for choir vocals and guitars over the final minute.  A delicate classic guitar solo tops things off.

Closing the album is a cover of the Mehida classic “Grace”, which initially appeared on the Finnish groups wonderful 2007 debut Blood & Water.  I recognized the songs unmistakable melody at once, with the same catchy bass line and flowing semblance standing alongside the signature double bass driven refrain.  Nice range bestowed by Schiavi on this one (his albums finest performance).
 
I am sure you are wondering why there was such an extended break between the albums release and writing the review.  Beyond the fact I am somewhat of a procrastinator - noting how I initially wrote a review of Sacred Warrior’s Master’s Command in 2006 but did not get around to rewriting and uploading it until over ten years later - I also did not want to pay the high cost of international shipping (Underground Symphony Records is located in Italy).  A domestic deal with an eBay seller earlier this summer finally led me to obtaining a digi-pak CD copy with a multi page mini booklet that includes lyrics (in both English and Italian).  A close look reveals the Choirs Of Veritis lyrics (per its press material) to be directly inspired by scripture.  It begins with the albums clear-cut title track –

No matter who you are
No matter what you’ve done
I’m the source of salvation for everyone
Into the raging storm
You’ll never be forlorn
I’m the answer when there’s no solution

In ME there is the way
In ME there is the truth
I’m the essence of life in its real form
If you believe in ME
Will live eternally
I’m the way, the truth and the life

- but also includes “A New Commandment” with its message based around love:

We are indifferent to those who suffer
And have no time to help others
We use to think ‘someone else will do that’
But we can make the difference

A new commandment He gave to us
He said to love everyone
To love the next one as ourselves
As He did for His whole life

“The Searching” is a song of faith:

You feel you can’t believe in God because
You see no sign of His existence
You feel you can’t believe in God because
Everything you see is death and suffering

But just try to search for Him
You will realize that He was there
It was you who didn’t see Him
If you search for Him, you will find Him
The evil doesn’t come from God
He always stays close to you to help you
So try to search for Him

“The Passion And The Cross” sums things up succinctly:

He made Himself human to show us how to live
He took our guilt on His shoulders because of His great love
And He has been judged like a criminal
Beaten, spat on, mocked, but He loved us until the end

He came to us to bring the love
To teach us to be brothers
He died for us to save our lives
And gave His blood to wash our souls

I Am The Way, The Truth And The Life adds up to a musically consistent album in that each of its tracks holds up under repeat play, with “The Passion And The Cross” being a viable song of the year contender.  Band performance is solid as well in that all the Choirs Of Veritis members hold their own musicianship wise, although lead vocals present with the occasional uneven moment.  Balancing things out, on the other hand, is the mezzo-soprano presence.  I also cannot help but feel production could have placed greater priority on rhythm guitars.  All things added up, fans of any type of symphonic rock and metal have found themselves an exciting new group in Choirs Of Veritis in which I expect bigger and better things from in the future.

Review by Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “God First” (1:00), “Ask Him” (4:49), “The Searching” (4:33), “Thank You” (5:15), “Vanitas Vanitatum” (5:08), “Miracles” (5:04), “Religiosity” (5:54), “I Am The Way, The Truth And The Life” (6:03), “A New Commandment” (5:01), “The Passion And The Cross” (6:15), “He Has Come To Forgive” (5:06), “Grace” (4:06)

Musicians
Davide Schiavi - Lead Vocals
Eliana Sanna - Mezzo-Soprano Vocals
Roberto Curtoni - Guitars
Davide Scuteri: Keyboardist
Alessandro Baglioni - Flute
Sarah Leo - Violin
Cesare Ferrari - Bass
Federico Paulovich - Drums

Additional Musicians
Federico De Biase - Keyboards
Gabriels - Keyboards
Dan Logoluso - Guitars
Davide Lovecchio - Guitars
Devin Waas - Narration

 

Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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