To drink from the cup of memories.
Frontiers Records may bill itself as the foremost label in melodic rock, but a more descriptive title for their work would be along the lines of career resurrection outfit. With an ever-growing roster that includes the likes of Don Dokken, Stryper, Sebastian Bach and Geoff Tate, it’s pretty safe to say that Serafino Perugino’s business ventures come with a fair degree of 80s nostalgia. Be this as it may, some of the recent ventures coming out of this Italian business powerhouse include the involvement of some more obscure figures, and not always ones with an AOR background. This has led to some rather interesting projects that hybridize the more consonant and accessible trappings of melodic power metal with the more jagged edges of old school heavy and speed metal, with such notable examples as Saint Deamon and The Ferrymen cycling through the label’s ranks. But Frontiers may well have unearthed the most unusual of stylistic couplings heard yet with the debut of the multinational super group Chalice Of Sin.
At its heart, this is a project that straddles the lines between the leather-clad glory days of Judas Priest circa 1984’s “Defenders Of The Faith” and the lofty, keyboard-drenched bombast of late 90s Stratovarius. Behind the unusual coupling is the songwriting, keyboard and bass work of multi-instrumentalist and producer Alessandro Del Vecchio, who runs the gamut of iconic 80s influences and adapts them to a sound template similar to what he participated in during his brief stint with Eden’s Curse. Equally as consequential to this heavy/power metal balancing act is vocalist Wade Black, whom some might dub the poor man’s Tim Owens given his similar sounding high-pitched snarling approach and mercenary-like history as a replacement vocalist for such noted acts as Crimson Glory, Seven Witches and Leatherwolf. The rest of the fold prove equally competent, if secondary in their impact, with guitarist Martin Andersen of Blindstone showcasing flourishes of Timo Tolkki and drummer Mirkko Demaio channeling a blend of groove-based and occasional speed that’s fairly reminiscent of Jorg Michael.
As with several noted projects under the Frontiers moniker that have been helmed by guitarist/keyboardist Magnus Karlsson, the majority of this album dances fairly close to symphonic territory and generally relies upon a massive sound to make an impact while keeping the songwriting structure fairly simple. Generally mid-paced and highly infectious anthems such as the starter and title track “Chalice Of Sin” and “Great Escape” could all but pass for more restrained renditions of what Stratovarius brought to the table with “Visions,” complete with Del Vecchio rivaling Jens Johansson via some tasteful yet shred-happy keyboard soloing battles with Andersen’s more melodic and idiomatic approach. But when accounting for Wade’s flamboyant shrieks and wails, these songs take on a peculiar dichotomy of gallantry and darkness that’s closer to Judas Priest’s 2008 symphonic experiment “Nostradamus.” Similar stories are told with more of a speedy, consistently Stratovarius-informed approach on bangers like “Sacred Shrine” and standout anthem “Ashes Of The Black Rose”.
Although the aforementioned hybrid approach is consistently maintained throughout this entire album, there are times when it takes on some less obvious forms. There is definitely a latent progressive character to the spacey atmosphere and wandering riff work of “Miracle”, and the mystic stylings of “I Stand” and “The Fight” take things into a bit more of a Symphony X direction, with the former being the more structurally elaborate take on the Egyptian/Middle Eastern-tinged power metal anthem, while the latter is a bit more technically charged and sees Andersen occasionally sounding like Michael Romeo as he cycles through scale runs in rapid succession. The eclecticism on display here does occasional yield a dud though, with the particular example of the rocking ode to alcoholism “Whisky” coming off as a lyrically corny mixture of 80s hard rock excess and a lost radio hit from Queensryche’s “Operation: Mindcrime.” Likewise, the more Judas Priest-infused speed metal anthem “The Show” hits hard enough, but definitely wants for a less rambling and more memorable chorus hook.
There tends to be little mystery wherein the average Frontiers Records backed album is concerned, but this is one of those cases where two generally commonplace approaches to metal are combined together in a manner that is anything but typical. It comes with a few occasional blemishes, such as hit or miss lyrics and some occasionally awkward vocal moments where Wade Black goes a bit overboard on the attitude and high notes, but the whole package is an interesting ride that will likely keep most fans of traditional heavy metal guessing and most fans of power metal engaged. It’s a musically extravagant opus that showcases yet again why Alessandro Del Vecchio is one of the most in-demand producers in Europe at present, and the unique combination of influences could yield a true masterpiece on subsequent efforts with a few peripheral tweaks. Those seeking out an album that is larger than life will not be disappointed.
Released By: Frontiers Records
Released On: June 18th, 2021
Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
- Alessandro Del Vecchio / Bass, Keyboards
- Mirkko DeMaio / Drums
- Martin Andersen / Guitars
- Wade Black / Vocals
“Chalice of Sin” track listing:
- Chalice of Sin
- Great Escape
- Sacred Shrine
- Ashes of the Black Rose
- Through the Eyes of a Child
- I Stand
- The Show
- The Fight
They busy bees over at Frontiers Records have unleashed yet another melody-drenched slab of anthem-based power metal, this time calling upon a fold of unlikely collaborators to merge the old school grit of Judas Priest and the quasi-symphonic bluster of Stratovarius.