Friday, March 4, 2016

Eleventh Hour (review by MMB)

Eleventh Hour (Italy)
Memory Of A Lifetime Journey
label: Bakerteam Records
release: 20 January 2016
When a melodic/prog metal band has a singer like this band does, it is easier for more people to like it because a good singing voice helps people to understand what a band is doing. A strong voice for melodic/power/prog metal can win the listener over because a voice that is pleasant to the ear has the power to convince. Now, if the band happens to have good songs and the chemistry to make good music, then they can really roll with it. This band right here has all those things and they are easy, I tell you, easy to approach and the music is very balanced: the songs are made for the people, not to try to impress snobby musicians. This is music to sing along, friendly enough for radio, pleasant for your non-metal friends, catchy for repeated playing. In other words, this is contemporary adult-oriented metal. Call it parents metal. Call it melodic metal. Rocking songs, mellow songs, power ballads, love songs, happy songs, sad songs, it's all here, and it's good. This the kind of prog metal the average listener can get on board with because it's song-centered, melodic music. The tracks stay with the 4-6 minute range, and there is none of those super long songs with a bass solo, a keyboard solo, a flute solo, another bass solo, and a tuba solo. There is only type of solo: guitars and guitar/keyboard trade offs.
Quality and professionalism describe this band very well. They have the confidence to do it all and they have thrown caution to the wind. They do many things right and they have a good variety of songs. Moreover, they show great restraint by not writing long, boring songs. The songs have a chorus and they get to the point and they stay on point. That's a very positive trait. I also like the album because the band avoids several problems that other prog metal bands like to do. For instance, this band generally avoids "groove guitar." I really dislike "prog" bands that don't do riffs, and that instead do simple "grooves" that sound "prog," but really there's very little guitar creativity in those grooves. I recently heard a song by a major international act of prog metal and I was so unimpressed with the groove sound. I guess not many people find it annoying, but I do. Where is the riff? If there is no riff, then I am not interested. Well, this band right here generally avoids the groove sound and that's a good thing. I have also noticed that many prog bands have gotten into the habit of sounding so emo and post-rock-ish and I guess people are loving it, eh? Eleventh Hour has a real singer and he sounds like an adult singing and it sounds real, not like some silly hipster crooning doing that whole post-punk stuff that sounds so emo.
The voice is one of those that works that pleasant midrange for the compact lines and a slightly higher tone for the longer lines and choruses, and it sounds very nice to the ear. The voice has no irritating characteristics. The guitar goes from neoclassical parts to semi-thrashy segments to heavier rhythms to some slower melodic parts. This is all great and all, of course, but it's only in the context of the songs and the album as a whole that it all makes sense, and make sense it does. On a song like "Jerusalem" the guitar has bits where it sounds like it is singing. On the other hand, "Back to You" sounds like a love song because it is one, and the guitar really sings in a bluesy-metal way, and the symphonic background parts seek to transport you to a different state of mind, and the singing really shines. The mood switches around like that, so that "After All We've Been Missing" keeps the tempo up in a rocking way, and probably is a closer representation of the majority of the songs.
Alright, that's it. I have to finish this review now. If this band sounds like a style you favor, don't pass them up. I'm glad I did not.
Eleventh Hour was born in 2014 out of guitarist Aldo Turini's need to express some musical ideas that have been kept in a drawer for years. Aldo arranged all the songs and wrote the orchestral parts with Giuseppe Carella, whose background was so distant from Symphonic Metal that the final result was very peculiar and musically challenging. In November 2014 the band's line-up had finally been confirmed and included Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline, Revolution Saints, Edge Of Forever) on vocals, who also co-wrote most of the songs with Aldo and Giuseppe, Luca Mazzucconi (N.F.D, Lahannya) on drums, GianMaria "Black Jin" Godani on bass and Alberto Sonzogni (The Black Phoenix, Timesword) on keyboards. Drums, bass and acoustic guitars were recorded in Parma at Real Sound Studios, electric guitars at Michele Quaini's O.U.T. Side Studio and vocals (including soprano Susanna Carboni for 'Sleeping In My Dreams' and 'Here Alone') at Alessandro Del Vecchio's Ivorytears Music Works Studios. Alessandro Del Vecchio, a renowed producer for some iconic international musicians, mixed and mastered the album, perfectly balancing it between the powerful approach of the band as a whole and the melodic and cinematographic orchestral flavor of the compositions.
Eleventh Hour Promo 2016

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