Metal De Facto – Land of the Rising Sun Part 1 (Rockshots Records)

Monday, 12th February 2024
Rating: 8 / 10

Of all the genres within metal, the best use of conceptual or specialized theme storylines probably occurs for the power metal movement. Finnish band Metal De Facto for example developed 2019’s debut effort Imperium Romanum about Ancient Rome topics – while this follow-up Land of the Rising Sun Part 1 starts an expanded journey into Japanese culture. The sextet contains players who have worked in acts like Ensiferum, Dreamtale, Kiuas and Everfrost, gaining latest vocalist Aitor Arrastia of Spain last year. The template of laying out eight songs from compact to epic arrangements allows this forty-five-minute record to unfold in adequate mannerisms – where listeners can absorb all the bombastic orchestration, supreme high pitch melodies, or dazzling guitar/keyboard virtuosity sans information overload.

Opener “Rise Amaterasu” resides in that Finnish/Teutonic anthem-oriented mold, containing the requisite double kick, uplifting chorus moments that keep audiences in a positive mood – as the follow-up “Code of the Samurai” sits in a comfortable mid-tempo Stratovarius/Helloween template, the main musical hook possessing the additional Japanese flavor while the guitar / keyboard tradeoff checks off all the shred, heroic boxes. Aitor as a singer displays leather lung capacity, not a stranger to the falsetto high yet also alluring in lower, normal ranges that are necessary for dynamic contrast / diversity. Bassist Sami Hinkka gathers his Steve Harris / Markus Grosskopf gallop lines to galvanize mid-album highlight “Slave to the Power”, where Esa Orjatsalo and Mikko Salovaara pepper in equally potent melodic riffs, runs, and quick hitting solo action. If there’s a minor criticism to expose, it would be in the very digitized snare sound achieved for the record – on specific sequences, you just wish instead of hearing a synthetic, triggered tone that there would be some natural human characteristics to exemplify the obvious skill set behind drummer Atte Marttinen and his abilities. What great power metal outing wouldn’t be complete without the epic, twelve-minute offering “Ronin 47” – fueled with longer instrumental sequences, narrative / orchestral elements, mood / atmosphere shifts from tranquil piano to harmony, neoclassical flourishes, setting the stage for the sequel.

Metal De Facto sticks to the power metal playbook set forth from their ancestors/mentors of the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. Land of the Rising Sun Part 1 as such gets the job done, sure to entertain and delight ardent followers of the style.

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