Mastercastle - Wine of HeavenSince their 2009 debut, Mastercastle have blasted from the blocks by channeling Iron Maiden‘s otherworldly focus on output. The Italians released five albums in six years, intent on spreading their cheesy neo-classicisms far and wide. This shotgun approach has done the band no favors, though; their potency stretched thinner with each new release. With lead axeman Pier Gonella nearing his 30th album, concerns of diminishing creative stores seem all too prescient. Mastercastle‘s sixth release Wine of Heaven reaches the breaking point, shaking the emperor down, stripping him naked, and flogging him through the streets.

Though touted on neo-classical merit, “Drink of Me” clomps past threadbare keyboard melodies and clunky chugs, entirely dependent on Giorgia Gueglio’s trademark vocals. Mastercastle operated at its best as a rich man’s Magica. They shed the symphonics but retain the melodic power of acts like Epica, coupling it with the blistering shred of Symphony X and Yngwie Malmsteen. Wine of Heaven rips the latter out like a weed, eliminating its ability to entice as well as self-moderate. “Drink of Me” and followers “Space of Variations” and “Wine of Heaven” pry open box after box of Velveeta, cramming spongy, plasticky histrionics into the void left by Gonella’s apathetic riffs. The title track reaches new lows, dragging dislocated squeals into a nauseatingly boring direction rife with overwrought backing vocals and do-nothing programming. It’s an offering so bland that Gonella doesn’t even bother to play the solo at full speed.

Mastercastle‘s previous offerings never tore my world asunder, but they were always good for at least a couple catchy tracks per album. The utter absence of spinnable music on Wine of Heaven drags depths even I thought beneath them. “Hot As Blood” starts with a riff that… well, it’s a riff, and at this point, I’ll take what I can get. Yet Mastercastle corrupt even that, leaving it out to mold while out-of-place twangs take its place. Gueglio, as she does across the album, extends a helping hand in the chorus. She never overpowers — though perhaps she should, given how hard she’s been sold down the river. Her vocals have a sugary warmth that elevates her performance past the rest of the mess. Gonella even musters enough energy to put a bit of soul into his solo. It’s this vibrance that Wine of Heaven lacks so desperately, leaving only hollow tones echoing in the album’s deserted opera hall. Absent worthwhile melodies, the Italians offer no soaring Epica builds, no berserk Witherfall solos, not even any stupid fun super cheese tracks. “Shine On Me” tilts toward Nightwish dance metal, but barely reaches standard fare status. “Enlightenment” evokes the mid-ranged effectiveness of Aeternitas and features Gonella’s one solid bout of solo-work on the release; however, even this track smacks of pre-packaged cheese slices.

Mastercastle 2017

Putting a cherry on top of the total dearth of material, Wine of Heaven’s original work ends at the half-hour mark. The album closes with covers of the theme to Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky and Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Making Love.” The former was done better by Imaginary Flying Machines, the latter by Swedish Christ Superstar himself. That both tracks still outdo the preceding seven is glaring, but frankly unsurprisingly. Given the black hole level of suck, it’s hard to imagine how this album came together. Mastercastle filled their color-by-the-numbers formula with the mutest, inoffensive shade of off-white they could claw from the crayon box, and everyone was seemingly okay with that. Both Gonella (Labyrinth) and drummer John Macaluso (Yngwie Malmsteen, Jorn) have been around the cheese wheel once or twice, and yet neither manages to liven up the record. Only Gueglio presses the issue, and even then her performance lacks compared to previous efforts. I suspect part of this may be due to a neutered production, but her voice is missing the punch and chutzpah to drag Wine of Heaven towards respectability.

I do not relish laying the hammer down, at least not compared to some of you sadists. But sometimes, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Wine of Heaven stands as the nadir of Mastercastle’s career, landing with a deafening thud and actively discouraging return. Spit this one out before you choke and go find a better wine and cheese outlet.

Rating: 1.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 160 kbps mp3
Label: Scarlet Records
Releases Worldwide: May 19th, 2017

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  • GardensTale

    20 seconds in I already decided this is indeed uninspired shit. 20 seconds later this is confirmed once more. What an utterly dull slog. Good job sitting through it in its entirety.

  • a glass o’ milk

    I’ve had worse…
    *exceptionally bland and possibly autotuned vocals set in*

    • Eldritch Elitist

      That is exceedingly generous.

    • JohnC

      Yeah, the autotune and broken English are both off-putting

  • Zach Ward

    After you manage a single song of this quality I always question how on earth all yall reviewers can make it through entire albums this bad. It’s probably not good for your health.

    • a glass o’ milk

      it grates on your sanity. and your faith in humanity and common sense.

      • Zach Ward

        I commend all who can endure such a travesty.

    • Sean Sky

      Especially when they say “after 5 spins of this record” or something. Holy hell the torture… I’ve tried to listen to some of the really bad albums posted here and I end up listening to one song and then skipping around for a bit and going back to something good.

  • madhare

    “Fleshlight… inside a loft…” o.0

    • Grymm

      It’s almost like they found words in the English language that might sound good and then put them together, hoping for a passable result.

      • JohnC

        My eyes twitched at how nonsensical the lyrics are in this song.

        • Grymm

          This song deserves the MST3K Treatment big time.

      • madhare

        Exactly. I think this is a pretty clear case where the band should have just opted for their native language. If you can’t do something, don’t showcase your inability.

        • Grymm

          Not even if they ask you politely if you want to flying free?

        • [not a Dr]

          Are you saying the lyric video was a bad move?

  • ElectricEye

    I think this review would make a great drinking game: every time you read the word “cheese,” you drink.

    • Sean Sky

      I’m drunk just thinking about it

    • JohnC

      Every nonsensical lyric or grammatical error, you drink. Wait… That’s just chugging beers for the entire song


    It turns out that the wine of heaven is water.

    • Grymm

      With food coloring added.

  • Cris Vel Med

    You should see a doctor soon, the damage for listening this crap could be irreversible…

  • Eli Valcik

    This band is like boxed wine. Does it get the job done? Yes. Is it good? No…. Not at all.

    • You wot m8?

      It could even be argued that it fails to get the job done…

  • Paul VH

    So….you’re saying you’re not a fan…..

  • Aesir

    Enya wants her keyboards back……..

  • brutal_sushi

    As much as I love power metal… this is terrible…

  • I just saw the cover and tags on the main page and the voice in my head said “don’t you dare to go there”. However, the rating and the comments promise that I may have some fun with reading this after all…

  • Grymm

    I barely made it through the first chorus.

    Just… no.

  • Mauro Bossetti

    I read about this album in one of those shitty websites that write reviews by copying and pasting the same texts. I just use them for not missing albums and I swear the review was very positive.

    I don’t recall to have survived half of the first song. At least I abandoned myself to a long list of profanities, which the band should well understand as they come from the same fucking country as I do.

  • Patrick W. Dunne

    I got excited to see the cover. “Finally, a new power metal release!” Then I scrolled to the bottom and was disappointed.

    • [not a Dr]


  • Thatguy

    What has the dude in the middle done to his hair?

    I don’t need to comment on the music.

    • I feel like you do need to comment. Interact.

      • Thatguy

        The music is very bad. Ditty synth, chord progressions and riffs we have all heard done and done better before and the singer is barely holding pitch. There. Is that enough?

        • I’m satisfied.

        • Hulksteraus

          And they appear to have broken the Band Photometer, and just after you had calibrated it with more beer…

          • Thatguy

            It’s not broken, just sad. It doesn’t want to have to deal with this.

    • Paul VH


      • Thatguy

        If that is not a band name it ought to be.

        • Paul VH

          Or the title of the new Fear Factory album

          • Grymm

            I laughed so damn hard that everyone on my bus is looking at me all weird now.

    • Grymm

      I just noticed his hair is wider than his entire body.

      • Thatguy

        It is creepy and it made the Band Photometer too sad to go any further.

  • Paul VH

    Pier Gonella brainstorming at home “Hmmm….must find power metally name….Master. ….Plan!….no no….Umm….Master!….no that’s taken too….umm……maybe if I combine it with something like…..Fortress!…..Fortress Master!”

    Piers 2 year old daughter “Mastercastle!!”

    Pier: *dabs*

  • JohnC

    I actually want to listen to this entire album to laugh at the butchery of the English language.

  • Tofu muncher

    Not too good, no?

  • rumour_control

    “…inoffensive shade of off-white they could claw from the crayon box…”

  • CarvedInStone

    Why is this classified as Neo-Classical Metal? I’ve listened to a few songs by them on youtube and the only time this stuff gets remotely Neo-Classical is in the solos. This would be like calling Accept Neo-Classica because Wolf works classical themes into his solos every now and then.

    • Dr. Wvrm

      They’re kind of a mish-mash, but a lot of their older stuff had more neo to it. I was on the fence for the tags, but hey, they’re only tags.

  • Oh boy… I’m not sure I’ll be able to pen an honest comment that wont sound supreemely irrational and butthurt to AMG contributers & readers… I bought the first MasterCastle album way back in 2009 and fucking loved it. Every subsequent album has been great as well – to my ears anyway – but I somwhow anticipated a flogging once the new record made it to this little nook of the internet.
    Maybe it’s just that I’m not much of a metalhead anymore… I listen to singer-songwriter, jazz and world music more than anything. Most metal is tonedeaf and dull to my ears. A lot of sound and fury, but little heart. MasterCastle was always a band that helped keep me interested in metal. Brilliant vocal melodies, tasteful arrangements, beautiful vocals full of personality… And I don’t mind the accent at all. I’m used to international music of all stripes. If anything, it feels charming to me.

    Will I like this album as much as the previous ones? That remains to be seen. I won’t get the CD until a few weeks from now, but I will get it.

    Don’t mistake this comment for a sort of “you people make me angry! unsubscribe!” hissyfit. Instead, what it is is a realization that I can’t relate to the musical tastes of the people on this site. Haven’t for a long time, but I guess this is where I finallym well and truly realize it. I’m mostly done with one dimensional growling and loud pummelling. MasterCastle makes beautiful music, most metal bands make bland noise. Fuck I feel old. Or maybe just… very detached from all musical communities I used to count myself a part of.

    Umm… yeah… That was a weird experience… I guess I don’t like metal much anymore? Oh shit!

    • PS: Maybe some sort of editorial about aging and metal would be interesting… ? I don’t know… Just an idea.

    • Take 2 Manowar albums and call me in the morning. Until then, leave the hall!

      • I don’t think Manowar will help! They’re part of the problem.

        • [not a Dr]

          Because they “got the biggest amps and, MAN!, they blast!”?

          • In a certain sort of sense uhh, yeah, I guess you could say so.

    • Dr. Wvrm

      You like what you like. No shame in that. I hope you keep coming back regardless, even if it’s just to shrug at the ratings.

      For what it’s worth, MC’s last few albums were in the 2.5/3 area for me, and I was expecting this to be more of the same. If you like this one, more power to you.

      • “For what it’s worth, MC’s last few albums were in the 2.5/3 area for me”

        Don’t say that. Now you’ve got me worried!

  • Martin Knap

    there needs to be a bucket hat in the band photo…