I don’t know what’s in the water in Italy, but they consistently produce some of the most theatrically dramatic metal on the planet. Symphonies, operas, and bombast seem to be second nature to the inhabitants of Europe’s boot and they often love stuffing classical instrumentation into their metal. My first brush with Italian flair was gothic death metal act Dark Lunacy, but more widely known are the opera-acrobatics of Rhapsody. For some reason, many bands from pasta-land eschew singing in their mother’s tongue, regardless of their English language skills. Indecipherable accents and ridiculous grammar would undermine all but the least serious bands (which is why Gloryhammer used it as an asset), so it’s a relief to me that In Tormentata Quiete decided to buck the ESL trend and shake the tongue their mother gave them. Grymm gave this lot a good lashing on their last outing, so it’s up to me to decide whether their standards have risen, or fallen even further.
I don’t know any bands that sound quite like In Tormentata Quiete. The vocals are the heart and soul of the band, but where this often indicates an accessible band with a single, capable vocalist, ITQ uses everything but the kitchen sink in its range of styles. Two equally capable ladies bring harmonic symphonies that without context might have befitted a progressive Nightwishcore band, but here they balance out Marco Vitals. The only male listed in the vocal department, I am forced to conclude this one man is responsible for the grandiose, operatic clean vocals, the hushed whisper of the spoken sections, the occasional guttural growl, and the absolutely caustic black metal screech. The man is multi-talented for sure, and along with Simone and Samantha his various styles are mixed and overdubbed continuously to bewildering but arresting effect. The choice to put the focus on the interplay of vocals is a clever one by the band, as it is their greatest asset and defines their sound.
That is not to say the instrumental music is useless or buried, even though it occasionally comes across as support for the vocals. The rhythm section is solid, with the drums choosing an understated approach, and the bass is clean and audible throughout. The guitars add a handful of much-needed grit, but it’s the most buried among the instruments. In its stead, the keyboards have the most presence, adding a space rock layer that fits the aesthetics of the album (all songs are named after stars, aside from the opener and closer.) Adding up the grandeur of the space theme, the consistent mid-paced approach, the progressive song structures and the buffet of vocals, which are either acerbic or borderline operatic, ITQ remind of Arcturus as much as Luciano Pavarotti. It’s Phantom of the Opera with early Enslaved standing in for the phantom. Compared to Cromagia there is a much better sense of unity, and no bizarre raps and breakdowns, so it seems the band members are avid readers of the site and registered the criticism, as they should.
It’s a strange brew, but it works perfectly. It has the effect many symphonic bands go for, the grandstanding, dramatic theatricality of opera and classical music, without sounding repetitive or derivative and without cheesing it up or dumbing it down. The structure across the album could have used a little shuffling, though. “Zero” kicks off strong with an acerbic bout of blasting before crossing into the vocal symphonies which persist across the album, but towards the tail of Finestatico the energy can’t quite persist, and closer “Demiurgo” consists of chaotic whispers and lingering atmospherics. It’s a slightly disappointing end, one I would have loved to be replaced by a powerful and epic closer to really pull the maximum out of the vocals. As it stands, it does feel like the band stops just short of truly giving it their all.
The production, on the other hand, is a slam dunk. The mix is precisely considered, and the cocktail of vocals is balanced consistently, the screeching moving from back to front to back to service or overlap the operatic clean vocals. The bass is clearly audible, the drums hit hard and have a good, natural sound, thanks to the master, which is clean and dynamic with a lot of punch for the black metal influences. It services all of the varied elements ITQ employs, and with such an original approach it would be a downright crime to smash it into a brick wall. If symphonics make you itch, grandeur gives you hives and theatricality makes you fall asleep, Finestatico is not for you. But if a night at the black metal opera sounds like it’s right up your alley, these Italians will surely be able to service your needs. Just keep a dictionary handy.
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: My Kingdom Music
Websites: intormentataquiete.bandcamp.com | intormentataquiete.com | facebook.com/intormentataquiete
Releases Worldwide: June 16th, 2017