Luca Sellitto – The Voice Within Review

As I look back upon the strange and unwieldy mess that we’ve been calling “2019,” I feel like something has been missing. Something uplifting; something powerful. And I’m already short on word count, so, long story short, it’s power metal. In fact, I’m in such a slump for the stuff that seeing The Voice Within, the debut solo album from Luca Sellitto, the guitarist from Italian act Stamina, described as “neoclassical power metal” in the promo bin caused me to grab it so fast I hadn’t even registered the glowing electric guitar on the cover. You can make of that what you will; I just needed to know if it could fill the glowing electric guitar-shaped hole in my heart.

Sadly, it did not; The Voice Within is filled with impressive technical guitar skill, and little else of note. Opener “Second to None” barely feels like a song; it begins and ends with guitar wizardry, and in between sports another guitar solo, a very generic verse-chorus structure, and vocal melodies that seem to have the concepts of “sing with more power” and “sing at a higher pitch” confused with each other. The chorus is sung in a near-monotone, robbing the song of its potential. Rob Lundgren (The Mentalist) has an impressively high range, but it’s very under-utilized. A few tracks later, “Étude” feels like an entirely improvised guitar solo that goes on relentlessly, making zero impact despite the technical skill of its creator. “The Land of the Vikings” has a little bit more power in its vocal department (featuring Göran Edman), but feels far too cheesy for its own good, and still falls short of that impactful “power” threshold.

To top all of that off, the production on The Voice Within is little short of bizarre. Often, we bemoan solo artists who choose to take charge of their own debut’s production, and this is not going to be an exception. It’s not that the album actually sounds bad, but you’d think a guitarist would highlight the guitars in his solo project a little more. Some tracks, like “Land of the Vikings” sound like a single guitar track was recorded in one go; during the lengthy solo that dominates the second half of the song, there are no backing chords, no supporting power, just a suddenly over-loud bass. In “Second to None,” on the other hand, there is a second guitar track, but it’s so low in the mix as to be useless in contributing to the actual impact of the track. Combine all of this with the aforementioned awkward vocal performances, and we uncover a fatal flaw for The Voice Within: there is no strength to this album, no power, no excitable surge of energy from this power metal creation. It just falls flat.

The album does have a couple of redeeming factors, the most primary of which being that Luca Sellitto actually is a very talented guitarist. While “Étude” feels like a long experiment into nothingness, closer “Tearful Goodbye” feels like a thought-out, more moving instrumental piece. It’s a bit repetitive, but Sellitto gets the most out of his guitar work, creating an emotional resonance that unfortunately arrives too late in The Voice Within. Another memorable moment comes in the form of “What If?” Lundgren gives such a wildly different, richer performance from the opener that it’s hard to believe it’s even the same singer. Even better, Sellitto brings actual riffing to the table, giving the song a meatier, heavier feel than literally every other song on The Voice Within. The problem, of course, is that this makes the album a very uneven ride, and these two tracks make the rest seem poorer by comparison. Despite its hints of promise, The Voice Within feels as though it was composed two-thirds of the way through the process of its songwriting.

I wanted to like Luca Sellitto’s debut a lot more than I did. Unfortunately, this is an uneven, less-than-impactful, and largely forgettable album. I don’t doubt Sellitto’s technical skill, nor do I deny that there are some cool moments and promising leads here, but the final product is just not enough. As a collection of impressive solos, The Voice Within works well; as an album of songs, I just can’t see myself coming back to it. It feels incomplete, and I sincerely hope for more the next time around.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
Label: Pride & Joy Music
Website: Literally can’t even find one.
Released Worldwide: December 6th, 2019

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