Album Review – Notturno / Obsessions (2022)

A melancholic trip into the obsessive compulsions that take shape within our lives in the form of first-class Atmospheric and Depressive Black Metal made in Italy.

Developing its atmosphere through lengthy songs with strong dynamics and pacing, keeping the listener lost in a reverie and crafting an immersive experience at once melancholic and infectious, the newborn Italian Atmospheric/Depressive Black Metal project Notturno will take you on a melancholic trip into the obsessive compulsions that take shape within our lives, the psychological torment, and the scourge of madness that takes hold inside the ancient walls of the human psyche with their debut full-length opus entitled Obsessions, peering around the dark corners within all of us. The brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Vittorio Sabelli (Dawn of a Dark Age, Suici.De.Pression), Notturno floats between Atmospheric and Depressive Black Metal, Doom Metal and chamber music, sounding intimate and possessing a strong character highlighted by the unique and singular expressiveness of female vocalist Kjiel (Eyelessight) and organically driven drum work of Sven. Mixed and mastered by Stefan Traunmuller, and displaying a stylish artwork by Dario Ursino (featuring model Michela Suffritti), Obsessions offer the listener 36 minutes of an absolutely stunning Black Metal sound, pointing to a bright future ahead of such promising project.

The sluggish, somber beats by Sven kick off the first of the three tracks of the album, simply titled Fear, being gradually accompanied by the melancholic guitars and low-tuned bass by Vittorio while building a depressive and obscure atmosphere that will darken your heart and soul, all of course embraced by Kjiel’s smooth but anguished vocals. Furthermore, the guitar work by Vittorio is a thing of beauty, elevating the song’s intensity to a whole new level. Then more of the band’s Depressive Black Metal will invade our senses in Darkness, with Vittorio and Sven being in absolute sync with their respective riffage and slow and steady beats while Kjiel sounds even more perturbed and evil on vocals, adding an extra touch of malignancy to the overall result. And the last song of their triumvirate of darkness and depression, entitled Falling, brings forward Kjiel’s most anguished vocalizations accompanied by the minimalist and reverberating guitars by Vittorio in a lesson in Atmospheric Black Metal, with their despair, hatred and obscurity rising as the music progresses while also presenting elements from Progressive, Experimental and Doom Metal before ending in a beyond Stygian way.

If you want to know more about Vittorio Sabelli and his Notturno, you can find the project on Facebook for news and other details, and of course if you’re a true admirer of Atmospheric and Depressive Black Metal with a beyond sinister aura you can purchase your copy of Obsessions as a very special bundle containing a digipack CD, a shirt printed on Gildan softstyle, a logo patch, a signed postcard, a magnet and a logo sticker, as well as a CD or in digital format. Italy has always been an amazing source of first-class Atmospheric Black Metal thanks to bands like Notturno, and may that darkness go on forevermore to the sound of classy and multi-layered albums like Obsessions. In other words, if this is just the first step in the career of Notturno, I can’t imagine what’s next for this newborn entity brought into being by the multi-talented Vittorio Sabelli.

Best moments of the album: Fear and Falling.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Fear 12:49
2. Darkness 9:06
3. Falling 14:55

Band members
Kjiel – vocals
Vittorio Sabelli – guitars, bass

Guest musician
Sven – drums

Album Review – Maverick / Ethereality (2021)

The unstoppable “Balfour Brothers” are back in action with another explosion of old school, electrifying Hard Rock and Heavy Metal from their ethereal new album.

After three years in the making, including delays in the recording process due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ethereality, the brand new album by Belfast, Northern Ireland-based Hard Rock group Maverick is ready to see the light of day, bringing to our avid ears all of the trademark elements that helped the “Balfour Brothers” David (vocals) and Ryan (guitars) to conquer the hearts of admirers of old school rock and metal music from all over the world. Combining the catchy, hookline oriented songwriting from their 2016 album Big Red with the heaviness of their 2018 opus Cold Star Dancer, and featuring a beautiful artwork by Ukrainian artist Cardaan, Maverick is indeed an ethereal album of Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, resulting in the strongest effort to date by David and Ryan together with their bandmates Ric Cardwell on the guitars, Richie Diver on bass, and newcomer Jason-Steve Mageney on drums.

Falling already kicks off in full force to the piercing vocals by David in a stunning display of classic Hard Rock by Maverick, reminding me of the golden years of Skid Row, Def Lepard and all of our 80’s Hair Metal heroes; and Ryan and Ric keep slashing their strings in great fashion in Thirst, another very melodic and electrifying tune with Jason kicking some ass with his old school beats, being perfect for any Rock N’ Roll party from all around the world. Never is a thrilling song for hitting the road with your loved ones, showcasing the always soaring voice by David supported by his bandmates spot-on backing vocals, while Richie and Jason are in total sync with their respective bass jabs and stylish beats, whereas in Switchblade Sister we’re treated to old school Glam Metal lyrics (“I know / I’m never number one when you need someone to hold you / But I’ll do just fine / Can’t help / But laugh when I hear your excuses / Can only think of me as a list of uses”) boosted by a vibrant sound crafted by all band members. And piercing guitars ignite the Melodic Rock tune Bells Of Stygian, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline while Jason continues to pound his drums nonstop.

It’s time for more of their 80’s-fueled hybrid of Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal in the form of Angels 6, where the entire band kicks some ass with their sharp instruments, with David and Ryan stealing the spotlight with their top-of-the-line vocals and crisp riffs and solos, respectively, whereas classic guitars permeate the air in The Last One, a well-crafted semi-ballad that can be played on any radio station worldwide, despite not being as exciting or detailed as the rest of the album. Then in Dying Star the band gets back to a more rockin’ sound, overflowing electricity with the band’s stringed trio providing David all he needs to shine on vocals once again, including a sick guitar solo, while in Light Behind Your Eyes, another ode to traditional Hard Rock and Heavy Metal by Maverick, Jason’s intricate and rhythmic beats dictate the song’s pace while Richie brings thunder to the music armed with his metallic bass. And lastly, the quintet blasts one final round of their undisputed Hard Rock in Ares, with David’s vocals sounding truly inspirational while the band’s riffs and beats keep the atmosphere as vibrant and harmonious as it can be.

When the band itself mentioned Ethereality is their strongest effort to date, well, they were not kidding at all. This is one of those precious gems of the underground that deserves our full attention and admiration, playing it on an endless loop in the name of our good old Rock N’ Roll. Hence, if you want to know more about Maverick, their music, tour dates and plans for the future, I highly recommend you start following them on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their Youtube channel, stream more of their awesome music on Spotify, and of course buy a copy of Ethereality from their own BandCamp page or Big Cartel, or from the Metalapolis Records’ webstore in regular CD format or as a very special black vinyl + CD bundle. The album title says it all as the word “ethereal” means “extremely delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world”, with my only adjustment to that would be on the “delicate and light” side, because what Maverick did in their new album is beyond heavy and electrifying, exactly what we all crave in old school rock and metal music.

Best moments of the album: Falling, Switchblade Sister and Angels 6.

Worst moments of the album: The Last One.

Released in 2021 Metalapolis Records

Track listing
1. Falling 4:07
2. Thirst 3:49
3. Never 3:55
4. Switchblade Sister 3:53
5. Bells Of Stygian 3:57
6. Angels 6 3:44
7. The Last One 3:55
8. Dying Star 3:48
9. Light Behind Your Eyes 4:00
10. Ares 4:28

Band members
David Balfour – vocals
Ryan Balfour – guitar
Ric Cardwell – guitar
Richie Diver – bass
Jason-Steve Mageney – drums