IVORY MOON – Dark Time
This is my first exposure to the Italian seven-piece outfit Ivory Moon- and this is their third album "Dark Time". The band plays an epic brand of symphonic metal, benefitting from the use of dual male/ female vocals plus two guitarists so the basic foundation is a touch heavier than most bands of this genre that rely on keyboards as a lead instrument. Not to say keyboardist Filippo Natoli doesn’t get a chance to dazzle with his piano skills- the mid-tempo "Endless" showcasing great symphonic chord parts along with neo-classical laden solo breaks.
As far as vocalists, Gabriella Aleo I believe has a stronger, more consistent range and tone for Ivory Moon’s style than male vocalist Sandro Manicone- she prefers to reside in slightly operatic tones a la Tarja (ex-Nightwish) for the journey tale "The Merchant of Venice" (which I’m gathering is based on the Shakespeare play). "Darkness" is more of a straight ahead metal number, some of the faster sections reminding me of "Painkiller" era Judas Priest while the chorus is very melodic and radio friendly. "Apocalypse" again relies on the back and forth operatic melodies which occasionally mesh with Sandro’s male parts for deeper harmonies- Ivory Moon using their strength of building up musical atmosphere with a slower, tranquil start before ramping up the energy.
The major drawback to full appreciation of "Dark Time" lies in the digital mix- which I think makes the bass and drums very hollow in comparison to the keyboard and guitars. Those into older Nightwish probably will enjoy Ivory Moon the most- talent is evident and present, so my hope is that future albums explore a more lively production to really emphasize all facets of the band.