Tommy Vitaly - Hanging Rock

Tommy Vitaly
Hanging Rock
Tommy Vitaly, is a not that well known guitarist, that in the past has released a couple of albums with the band Seven Gates, a couple of more through an eponymous band and including “hanging rock”, two solo albums.
I’d be a liar, if I said, that I was completely aware of his past. If I remember correctly, I may have listened to one of the two SG albums, but I can't say that I was absolutely thrilled.
Nonetheless, a good portion of “Hanging Rock” is made up of some pretty decent lyrical power metal compositions, but the main point of interest, has got to be the plethora of guests the services of whom Vitaly has managed to secure for this project. A true dream team of vocalists, a crème de la crème selection of some of the best that power/traditional metal has got to offer, have sided with Vitaly, to help him realize this album.
The album kicks of furiously with “Betrayer” (feat. Mats Leven on vocals) a scorching, Priest-ly track, that balances incredibly between melody and ferocity. Vitaly, comes up with a blazing solo, midway too, that's nothing sort of impressive. Leven, is as expected, quite godly!
Up next is “Run with the Devil” (feat. Carsten “Lizard"Schulz on vocals) a rather more varied composition, that starts rather playfully and at a rather fast pace, then quietness down in the middle section and then it kinda re-ignites, towards the end. Great track as well and “Lizard”, who I had to think twice, to really get, who he was (he’s one of the guys that has sung for Domain and quite numerous other bands... like Evidence One and actually countless others, judging from his site’s discography section) is doing a fine job, vocally, coming across as far more commanding Tobias Sammet of sorts.
The ticking of a clock and an alarm going off, herald the “Hands of Time” (feat. Todd LaTorre of Crimosn Glory and the Queensryche, off shoot Rising West fame, on vocals). A cut above the rest, La Torre’s first, committed lead performance as a metal vocalist, is nothing short of amazing. Powerful, but also expressive and lyrical to the max, he signs one of the most impressive songs on the entire album, in a way really reminiscent of the heydays of Lethal, Queensryche, Crimson Glory, pre “Gutter” Savatage etc …. He’s THAT GOOD!
A lion’s roar, signifies, the entrance of the rather temperate and fragile “Forever Lost” (feat. David Defeis on vocals). DeFeis, quite a legendary vocalist in the metal circles, has lost much of his power and has lately offered, some less than stellar performances both onstage and in the studio. Here he remains within a comfort zone, in this ballad, with extensive but quite consistent use of “falsetto” voices. His experience, allows him to save face and grace, quite effortlessly. I hope, he returns, stronger, in the future nonetheless.
Vision Divine’s on/off vocalist, Michele Luppi, is an “Idol” (feat. Michele Luppi on vocals, Norifumi Shima and Ferdy Doernberg solos) in the rather stirring and highly infectious, song by the same title. The song, might be borderline cheesy and Luppi, might have a trace of an accent, but both these issues, are trivial, as the chorus, is really instant-glue catchy and Luppi, possess a hell of a voice.
“Misanthropy” is a reflective and very sensational, elegiac instrumental piece, that calms things down and is like a tempest before the storm that’s brought about by the great “Heavy Metal God” (feat. Carsten “Lizard” Schulz on vocals, David Shankle (ex Manowar) on guitar solo) a song that might be catchy as well as any it’s album siblings, but really, borders between greatness and being ridiculous, as it pushes the cliché power metal, pedal to the metal. It’s so predictable, that it even features a sing-a-long oh-oh-ohhhhh, choir, towards the end, Puleez!
“Hanging Rock” is another superb instrument (feat. Ferdy Doernberg of Rough Silk) on keyboard solos) that’s really cinematic in both scope as well as in the soundscapes, it creates. What a BEAUTIFUL theme! Wow!
Finally we’ve got “Icewarrior” (feat. Zak Stevens ex-Savatage, C2C on vocals) a song, billed as a bonus, on the track-list, meaning that it might as well, be not part of whatever, main theme, the rest of the album may or may not carry. It’s an exceptionally well done, mid tempo, epic power metal, track, that’s not exactly I was expecting to be assigned to Zak Stevens to sing as he’s better known for his more melodic leanings and performances. Nonetheless, he’s pulling this one off, quite nicely!
Overall, “Hanging Rock” is a quite satisfactory album of melodic power metal, with great vocal talent, due to the sum of its parts. It lacks cohesion, since it’s not a metal-opera, for instance, but as a collection of tracks, it’s highly impressive, with some of the best performances, you may hear, this year! If you like you’re metal trad(itional) and dry, go ahead and give it a try, chances are you might like (it).