Dynamic Lights - Shape

Year of Release: 2005
Label: DVS Records
Catalog Number: DVS012
Format: CD
Total Time: 00:00:00

In the third of 3 progressive metal/progressive rock albums released this year (or so) that fall into a category that requires words like intense, taut, dramatic, and ... dynamic... we get Shape, Dynamic Lights' first full-length album, following on from their debut ep Resurrection (released in 2002). That debut was very strong, and lead to this Italian quintet being signed by the Dutch label DVS Records.

What dominates the arrangements of most tracks is the piano playing of Giovanni Bedetti. He plays in a classical style that features lots of tinkly notes, which in and of themselves are quite nice, sometimes exceptionally beautiful. However... however, these tinkly tones sometimes seem all wrong for the mood the rest of the instrumentation is creating (including the same Bedetti on keys, which are much better integrated into the whole). And this becomes most noticeable because these piano elements are too high in the mix.

This is my lone criticism of the album. Everything else just flat out works! The arrangements, the tension between bass and guitar -- one example is the softly chugging "Between To Parallels," which combines power and beauty in a most attractive package. The interplay of vocals between Matteo Infante -- who has a tight, dramatic way of singing that is a mix of Tom Englund, Daniel Gildenl?w and Chris Cornell (especially on the Soundgarden-like "Going To Nowhere"... if Soundgarden had incorporated prog-classico-metal elements to their music) -- and the rich, sonorous and earthy guest vocalist Jamina Jansson makes album opener "In The Hands Of A Siren" a great track.

As on their ep, we hear in Dynamic Lights a band that often sounds like Evergrey and Pain of Salvation (circa Remedy Lane). They balance sweeping epic arrangements with a chugging throb of guitars (Marco Poderi), bass (Raffaele Mariotti) and drums (Simone Del Pivo). You'll find searing leads from Poderi as well, and, as befits their name, dynamic drumming from Del Pivo. Lyrically/thematically they aren't as dark as Evergrey and not as socio-politically focused as PoS. In fact, not really socio-politically focused at all, as most tracks explore matters of the heart and the human dynamic... Only closer "The Big Show" addresses any sort of societal issue. They are one of those prog metal bands with prog rock (of a so-called "neo" bent) elements... or maybe their a prog rock band with prog metal elements... Hard to say, but I think given who they take cues from, I'm leaning more towards the first.

I want to get back to Bedetti for a moment, because I must mention the instrumental "Density" which is Bedetti's solo spot, and his sweeping, classical style here is just perfect. It lasts a mere 2:16, but is a tour de force so piano performance. So, my complaint isn't with his playing, just how and when it's employed. There is another point where it seems aptly employed, and that's a tango-ish section of "Going To Nowhere." They are best placed in the 11-minute plus epic "One Thousand Nothing," which puts the piano at the forefront when it should be - the intro, and the interlude at the 8-minute - though moreso it's his keyboards that he uses more. This piece also allows one to hear Poderi's fretwork. It mixes the smooth and easy verses with intense choruses, deftly mixing classical and metal elements with seamless transitions. Here we get some nifty bass work from Mariotti as well. It becomes a showcase for each performer without sacrificing forward momentum. A great, great track, it's the album's highlight -- on an album with many highlights.

This is followed by the billowy, airy "Connecting" - keyboards and vocals create a... not quite dreamy atmosphere, as Infante's vocals aren't underplayed... But, it is the mellow intro the darker, chuggier 'The Big Show" (another piece where piano is more balanced in the mix - present but not overshadowing). Another great guitar solo from Poderi can be found here, one that kinda recalls Steve Rothery (Marillion) and John Mitchell (Arena), and others of a "neo-prog" bent....

If I had to pick favorite tracks, certainly one and two on that list are "One Thousand Nothing" and "The Big Show." The instrumental "Density" and "In The Hands..." come very close. This would get a 5/5, hands down, but for my one quibble. But, if that one element doesn't bother you -- it is otherwise superbly produced and everything sounds great, and clear -- than you might well consider my score the equivalent of a 5/5. It's definitely on the year's best releases list regardless.

[DVS has gone out of business; the band suggest contacting them directly through their website ?ed. 08/09/2009]

In The Hands Of A Siren (9:23) / Between Two Parallels (7:44) / Remembrances (8:11) / Density (2:16) / Going To Nowhere (6:08) / One Thousand Nothing (11:30) / Connecting (2:08) / The Big Show (7:27)

Matteo Infante - vocals, backing vocals
Raffaele Mariotti - bass, stick, fretless bass, effects
Marco Poderi - guitar, acoustic guitar
Giovanni Bedetti - piano, keyboard, backing vocals
Simone Del Pivo - drums, percussion

Resurrection (2002)
Shape (2005)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin IT

Added: December 28th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.dynamiclights.net
Hits: 1048
Language: english


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