Holy Knights – Between Daylight and Pain
When I got this album to review, my initial reaction was “Oh, well; an Italian power metal band whose name starts with Holy.” However, not long after hearing the first track was I reminded of the good old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” And indeed, I soon swallowed my prejudices and started digging the band up on the internet. A relatively unknown act that had previously released a single record, Gate Through the Past, before splitting up – only to reunite in 2012 and release the record I had in my hands.
The band was formed in 1998 in Palermo, Sicily and the current line-up consists of Claudio Florio (Drums), Dario Di Matteo (vocals and keyboards) and Simone Campione (Bass and Guitars). The band’s influences are evident: should they have been formed earlier they would no doubt stand side by side with the power metal bands of the 90’s; Rhapsody, Angra, Stratovarius or Domine. The general feeling of the album is nostalgic, and from time to time I find myself singing the choruses with the same passion I had when I first heard Warrior of Ice or Against the Wind. However the album still manages to avoid the same deja-vu feeling that power metal bands nowadays actually strive to achieve. The arrangements of the songs are the first thing I would like to praise. The average 5-minute long tracks are so packed with various rhythmical and melodic changes – faster and slower parts, shredding guitars and epic symphonies – that you don’t ever get the chance to feel bored. The rhythm section is pretty much standard power metal – galloping bass lines and fast double-bass oriented drumming. The guitars are well produced and Campione indeed is a virtuoso, both with solo and rhythm guitars. I also have to compliment Dario Di Matteo for both his high-pitch singing and his accent – enough Italian to go with the whole Italian power metal feel; and not so much as to actually start to annoy the average English-speaking listener.
The first track, Mistery, is a classic power metal hook – a fast and catchy tune that will show you from the start what Between Daylight and Pain is all about. Some of the other tracks that really stand out are Beyond the Mist, a heavy tune in the vein of early HammerFall; 11 September, a more progressive-oriented song and Wasted Time, which really reminds me of Sonata Arctica. And least we forget the last track – The Turning to Madness - a six-minute entirely orchestral epic with a powerful theatrical vocal performance by Di Matteo.
Overall, the album is a solid metal record, no more and no less. If you liked power metal before – you will like this record; and on the other hand, if you never did, this album surely won’t be the one to make you change your opinion. As for me, I really enjoyed listening to it, and it definitely reminded me why I started liking this genre in the first place. To all of you nostalgic power metal fans: this is a record you don’t want to miss.
Impeccable musicianship. Traditional tunes in a modern outfit.
Although not classic run-off-the-mill power metal, it's not a game changer and plays it safe.