By The Great Sun Jester
Italian metallers iLLacrimo draw deeply from a relatively recent phenomenon in popular music, so comparisons are probably inevitable. Bands like Lacuna Coil and Evanescence overturned whatever remained of the paradigm that metal was exclusively a boy's club. iLLacrimo begins with these comparisons as a common reference point, but quickly ventures afield from that initial inspiration. There is a pronounced classical sensibility permeating the work and an art rock flair that bats nary an eyelash over the thought of marrying multiple genres in a single song.
"Burning Fields" opens the release with a memorable mix of light and shade. Similarities to the aforementioned bands are plentiful, but a single element propelling this into genuine originality is the deft combination of classical and rock influences. The piano playing is quite beautiful and invokes melancholy without ever descending into cliche. Vocalist Federica Sara Falletta is a stunning singer capable of invoking a number of voices with her instrument.
The piano opening "1000 Reasons To?" creates a delicate, crystalline mood before the guitars enter. iLLacrimo's riffing is initially sparse, but the band soon sets a second guitar track playing in counterpoint to the rhythm guitar. Kicking up the tempo quickly lifts this song to another level and the drumming latches onto a strong groove that gives the song a streamlined, focused attack. Such tight songwriting is a hallmark of their best efforts and this song is, arguably, one of the EP's finest moments.
Progressive touches do the same for "Chains In The Cold". The keyboard fills flashing through the mix light up everything with color; musically, everything here depicts distress and struggle. It is impressive to hear the sort of intensity they can conjure within a limited amount of space and everything works towards that goal - strong lead guitar, powerful drumming, and another emotive vocal from Falletta.
The closer, "Non Credi", opens as a minimalist duet between the piano and Falletta's vocal. iLLacrimo favors the slow build and embrace it here again. When the guitars enter, they cop a stuttering rhythm that doubles the piano, but any expected release never quite arrives. The obvious candidate for this moment, an instrumental break, arrives but doesn't land with a meaningful impact. The lead guitar work is very lyrical, but within the context of this song, it feels diffuse and misplaced.
iLLacrimo has a stylish bent and demonstrate considerable promise, but this is a baby step in that direction rather than a full-fledged leap into the future. The elements are here though; solid lyrical content, excellent vocals, sympathetic guitar work that can also hold the spotlight, and a sturdy sense of craft.