White Skull - _The Ring of the Ancients_
by: Yiannis Stefanis (
Oh dear, time does indeed fly. It feels like it was yesterday that I first listened to White Skull's sixth studio effort _The XIII Skull_, and I can still clearly remember that I was not particularly impressed by the band's average and most importantly predictable euro power tunes. Well, that was almost two years ago, and hopefully things would have changed for the better in the band's latest release _The Ring of the Ancients_... or maybe not?As with most of their Italian fellow musicians, the members of White Skull have a natural attraction towards melody, but based on the topic presented in this album, I would expect that Tony "Mad" Fonto (lead guitars) and Co would try to give more emphasis to the heavier aspects of their music this time round. Indeed, both my hopes and excitement were raised after listening to the opening track of the album, "Ninth Night", with its monstrous Grave Digger influenced fast paced guitar riffs. Unfortunately that didn't happen with any of the eleven remaining compositions of the album!It is a real shame that I didn't manage to connect with _The Ring of the Ancients_, not only because the band has obviously put a lot of effort into its creation, but also because there are some really inspiring moments throughout these twelve compositions. The main problem is in the way that the band is trying to bring together elements of classic heavy metal (Iron Maiden / Judas Priest / Grave Digger) with their main euro power influences. Take, for instance, songs like "The Ring of the Ancients" and "After the Battle": both of them kick off with some really powerful Grave Digger sounding riffs, which are sadly followed by weak melodic themes and completely annoying choral refrains.My impression of Gustavo Cabarro (vocals) is of a frontman that does not always manage to bring across the right feeling into every song. On the other hand, Tony Fonto (lead guitar) seems to be the only one that manages to save the day by performing some really skilful guitar solos in most compositions. In their attempt to become more varied and interesting, the members of White Skull come across as an incoherent and not particularly tight outfit. When following more straightforward formulae though, as in "Half Moon Path", they manage to bring across their best attributes and sound much more promising.I definitely expect fans of European power metal to have a more positive approach towards _The Ring of the Ancients_ than mine, but even they should realise that the members of White Skull must improve quite a few things in their approach to music in order to become a considerable force in this over-populated genre.
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