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Belladonna - 'The Orchestral Album' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/98/e8/e5/Belladonna-The-Orchestral-Album-70-1474570865.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 22, 2016    
 
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The high points on 'The Orchestral Album' are breath-taking, but they're all too few and far between.

There's no denying that I found the 2014 album from Italy's Belladonna an intriguing, intricate struggle. The classy, but not Classical voice of Luana Caraffa being the undoubted highlight of an album heavily reliant on the impassioned piano work of Licia Missori. However, the quandary I was left with was exactly who would buy into a Symphonic Rock album that never really Rocked, or a Melodic AOR record with Pop leanings that refused to be catchy or instant?

Not content with all the genre blending their previous release witnessed, 'The Orchestral Album' reveals all in its title; the guitars from Dani Macchi, other than a couple of well-placed and executed solos, are safely belted into the back seat. Gone completely is Missori's piano; instead, a fourteen-piece orchestra becomes the basis of the Film-Noir-esque sounds on this album. Comparisons to the Symphonic Metal movement are definitely in evidence, and yet there's no bombast, or pompous chest-beating – instead, poise and passion lead the way.

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Caraffa's deep, resonant tones are positively alive as they meld with the orchestral themes. On the down side, things often slide near to maudlin, although when the soaring, yet melancholic violins are pitted against a steady, controlled, Metallic, almost Industrial drum beat, the effect suddenly becomes intoxicating. It doesn't happen often, however, 'Morning Star Blues' is completely and utterly captivating; the beauty of Caraffa's voice accentuated to stunning effect by the depth of the music.

Just as with their previous album, Belladonna have left me scratching my head as to why so much of what they do seems to meander, to the extent that it almost completely passes you by, even when your sole intention is to concentrate on it. That said, when they get it right, they get it so absolutely spot on that they shock, startle and amaze. The high points on 'The Orchestral Album' are breath-taking, but they're all too few and far between, and therefore once again the overriding emotion Belladonna leave you with is one of frustration at what might have been.

Steven Reid

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