ScreaMachine – Church of the Scream (Frontiers Music)

Monday, 8th May 2023
Rating: 8.5 / 10

It’s open season for musicians who after years of playing revert to a love of traditional, classic heavy metal from youth that probably inspired their lifelong interest for the genre in the first place. Italian act ScreaMachine contains members who have a wealth of experience in groups like Kaledon, Stormlord, and Lunarsea – quickly making their mark in 2021 via a self-titled debut album. Latest guitarist Edoardo Taddei appeared on last year’s Borderline EP, which included reworked material in different forms, a new song, as well as a Judas Priest cover for “Leather Rebel”. Now back for a third consecutive year with another record, the second full-length Church of the Scream proves this quintet balance classic / power metal riffs, soaring vocal melodies, and powerhouse rhythm section play into a sound/style that could appeal to a younger, current audience as easily as the older brigade.

Influences from both European and North American territories seep into the undeniable gang-like choruses, fiery twin guitar activities, and solid pumping bass/drum backbone necessary to keep hands clapping or followers shouting along track to track. There’s a certain steel finesse edge to specific musical components that comes equally from the power side of 80’s Metallica as it does Manowar, Judas Priest, or Accept – look into “Revenge Walker” especially, where Valerio ‘The Brave’ Caricchio sends chills with his Halford-esque eagle screams again a natural bard-like mid-range delivery that may remind some of Hansi Kürsch / Blind Guardian. The driving bass/double kick mechanics courtesy of Francesco Bucci and Alfonso ‘Fo’ Corace allow “Met(H)Aldone” to race along brilliantly, featuring numerous bluesy/speedy guitar breaks beyond another tremendous choir-infused, larger than life chorus to bring it all home. Versatility is a strength of this unit – a willingness to expand colors for straight-ahead riffs into cultural/progressive measures where there’s a push/pull dynamic on hand, making “Occam’s Failure” a certain standout, Paolo Campitelli along with Edoardo throwing a bevy of riffs, breaks, and hooks guitar-wise to attract devil horns approval. And what album of this category wouldn’t benefit from a theatrical closer like “The Epic of Defeat” – bells, background choirs, adventurous musical shifts, plus guest vocals from Elvenking’s Davide ‘Damna’ Moras heightening the Savatage-esque output to a fitting end.

Warriors unite in servitude to the sound of ScreaMachine. The passion bleeds through the material – so Church of the Scream fits best with those who don leather and chains, crank music to earth shattering levels, watching foundations crumble to the timeless nature of classic heavy metal while keeping the tones/production quality up to modern comforts.

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