Antonio Pantano - Arcandia

Antonio Pantano Arcandia cover
Antonio Pantano
Independent Release
Antonio Pantano is by the sound of his name an Italian guy that in the past had some sporadic collaborations with better known people like Mark Boals on some of his ex-efforts them being like singular sorts and covers of more famous bands like Rhapsody etc... or the themes from some video games.
The guy is a fairly talented musician, I’ll give him that, but other than that, it’s obvious that he’s too much in love with the whole “nerd”-o-logy, that much in love with it actually, to make his first grand effort that took him a big chunk of time in the past two years (2012-2104) a largely instrumental only broken by spoken parts/narrations, provided by BBC’s Peter Baker, who lends a certain air of authority, but spells out some of the most toe curling lines that I’ve heard in recent years as well… “the cold is so frozen that the icy waters become frosty” – whatever the hell the narration in the Epic Frost is going on about :D, or some crap to that effect – not that bad, but verging on being comical – like that...
It’s like mashing up the OSTs of films like Zimmer” and “Bergersen”, the symphonic metal music of “Rhapsody”, the guitar virtuoso of Luca Turilli, and videogames such as “Warcraft” and “Skyrim”, and George Martin’s fantasy novel and HBO series “Game of Thrones” as Antonio would love to describe it. No problem with saying that, because it’s an APT enough description with what he’s trying to do, but he’s doing it in a way that see too many elements failing.
Firstly, he’s done it all by himself on a PC and a fake orchestra, sounds like a cheap fake orchestra. Lots of bad midi. The mix leaves things to be desired, with things being audible, but all at the same time and at levels that antagonize each other too much. A bit more clarity would have aided this project, but this is where proper mastering would have also helped. The too soft and keyboard laden sound really drowns everything in a mantle of light ‘verb that makes everything sound fluffy. Also the guitar use, is sporadic, leaving orchestrations to do a great deal of the song progression which is just plainly boring, I mean, some of the ideas might be nice, although, a lot of these Celtic or neo-classical motifs certainly do not sound exactly new... but depriving the songs of a lead instrument and a vocal, really makes shifting through the 14 album tracks, plus the 4 bonus, quite the task.
While the album itself has a nice variety in terms of moods and soundscapes and if Antonio worked a little further on it, he might have turned it into a pretty awesome power metal gem, as presented now, it’s a very weird proposition. It really sounds as the soundtrack to a game and not an album; hence not as something I would really listen repeatedly. The more tempestuous tracks, like the opener “Hymn to the Brave” the non-spoken parts of “Icy Tempest/(The Epic Frost)”, the glorious crescendo of the “Ancient Folks of the North (Clash of the First Century)” and such are pretty marvelous ideas, but not fully realized because of the aforementioned “issues”. Likewise the more majestic, folk tracks like the “Elven Woods” that try to paint the pictures of the various “territories” of the “Arcandian” lands or the in-between tracks like “Heroes of the Mighty Castle” that mix both the folk with the power metal influences in a potent sound elixir are pretty decent in conception, but needed more work. I don’t understand why Antonio didn’t try to secure either Mark, having worked with him in the past, or if he was too expensive maybe someone of similar ability but lesser requirements. I suppose the guy from Dionysus, that Luca, utilized on his first solo album was pretty awesome, but still, there would both be a number of very decent vocalists that would jump the shark to work on a good album.
For me “Arcandia” is not a success, but it’s not necessarily a lost cause. Maybe “Arcandia” 2.0? The fully produced project with lyrics and a singer or two? Heck there are lots of good ones, the guy from Dynazty is a supreme vocalist, Kelly Sundown is a more of a scream beast but still supremely versatile fella as evidenced by the first Epysode album and I suppose there could even be space for a nice female voice, the type of Ancient Bards – that’s very close to this anyhow.
This is not meant to put Antonio down, but to spur him to make Arcandia, something it could be. A fully realized album, would easily win double marks from me – or close, but then again, a fully realized album, would probably cost a lot too, but on the other hand it would set the power metal scene ablaze as well.