This month, I have three solid albums to discuss. I was planning on drafting a full review for one of them (Pentesilea Road), but discovered that I just didn’t have much to say about the release. Read on to discover three very different albums.
Pentesilea Road is an Italian band, which is obvious from the beginning. The band consists of Vito F. Mainolfi on guitars, bass, programming, and backing vocals; Lorenzo Nocerino on vocals; Ezio Di Ieso on piano and keys; and Alfonso Mocerino on drums. Their debut self-titled album also includes some high profile guests, such as Ray Alder, Mark Zonder, Michele Guaitoli, and Paul Prins.
Let me get right to the point here: this is good album, mature even, but it doesn’t leave me necessarily wanting more. The music is composed well enough, from the wonderful opening instrumental to the haunting “Stains” to the fantastic closer “Shades of the Night” with Ray. All of the songs are solid, at least. But the album lacks oomph, or even just a reason for me to care. I thought, at first, that Ray’s involvement would be that reason, but he only shows up on a couple tracks. The rest of the album sounds like pretty typical Italian prog metal, which isn’t itself a bad thing—-it just doesn’t grab my interest.
The album released on February 26th, and I honestly thought it would make a splash because of Ray’s guest spots, but it’s been mostly radio silence on this release. Even though it professes to be “post progressive”, I’m not hearing anything of that level of creativity here. All in all, this is an average prog metal album that leans towards the softer side of things, and that’s about all I have to say about it.
There are certain bands out there that I think have great potential. Sometimes, the band just doesn’t climb that high for me, though. Holy Monitor of Greece is one such band. They offer something solid, yet ultimately forgettable. Their new album “Southern Lights” released on February 26th.
The band consists of George Nikas on vocals and guitars, Stefanos Mitsis on guitars, Vangelis Mitsis on keys, Alex Bolpasis on bass, and Dimitris Doumouliakas on drums. From their full-length, self-titled debut back in 2017, I really thought Holy Monitor was going to become something truly special. They had this atmospheric, ambient thing going on behind an interesting and mysterious rock aura. And, while they still have that, it hasn’t progressed in the way I had hoped, and the band leans more on simplistic guitar rhythms and vanilla vocals now than they did in the past.
And that’s about all I can say. The album isn’t an off-putting experience, but it damn near puts me to sleep every time. Even with some more interesting moments in the title track and a closing track that I do like pretty well (“Under the Sea”), the record mostly feels monotonous, rarely changing beat or tone. I’m sure some people will like this more than I do, though.
Approaching an album from a legend is always nerve-wracking, and Pauline Anna Strom certainly fits the bill. She created music in the 80s under the name Trans-Millenia Music, and she is back with her first album in over 30 years. The album is called “Angel Tears in Sunlight”, and it is a solid effort.
Pauline’s music is electronic and ambient in tone, though you will hear plenty of percussive and ethnic vibes not normally found in this genre. In fact, her entire method of composition is novel, with textures, auras, environments, and intangibles being the focus over melody. The results are that some songs feel like drifting ambient pieces that evoke spots of color and memory upon my mind, and other tracks that bubble and progress in unsystematic or even haphazard ways. Still, the music feels warm and inviting, and I do love to sit back and just float away into the ambience she has created.
“Angel Tears in Sunlight” is a good album. It won’t be Pauline’s best and it won’t even be my favorite electronic album of the year, but what she has created is certainly noteworthy and beautiful. My favorite tracks are “I Still Hope”, “Equatorial Sunrise”, and “Tropical Rainforest”. All of them, and even all of the songs on the album, are peaceful and comforting. In that way, the record succeeds greatly.
Find Pentesilea Road online:
Find Holy Monitor online:
Find Pauline Anna Strom online: