• Gabriels - Prophecy (2013) - This conceptual release comes a decade too late - 61% (26/05/14)

    Gabriels - Prophecy (2013)

    Gabriels is a quite obscure progressive metal band from Messina, Sicily. It’s quite hard to find any information about the band unless you speak Italian because they don’t really try hard to spread their name around the world. The band is in fact named after keyboardist and singer Gabriele “Gabriels” Crisafulli who had been active in another obscure Italian heavy metal band called Denied for a year. Formed back in 2006, Gabriels released its first full length effort The Legend Of A Prince in 2007 and after a few single releases the band is now back with a second record entitled Prophecy. The new release is a conceptual record about the horrible September 11 attacks. Recently, Italian power metal band Holy Knights already did a song about this topic and now Gabriels follow with a whole record. While the idea is honorable, the topic is pretty much worn out. The band comes a few years too late to be the first to have thought of such a conceptual release.

    The music itself has its highs and lows. The opening keyboard driven instrumental “September 11” (what an original song title!) is just overlong and uninspired. That’s a quite bad way to open an album as the first impression is always what counts and in this case it's quite bad. If you ignore this filler, you might though discover a pretty decent release after that. I have some issues with the fact that the keyboards are heavily dominating this record which might get on your nerves if you consider that this release has a painful running time of almost seventy minutes. The production is a little bit mellow and especially the drums and guitars lack power which doesn’t help. The record includes a few weird vocal effects in the beginning and the end of the record that made me chuggle a little bit. There are a few guest musicians on this release and most of them add some inspiration but a few vocalists just sound plain awful. The worst is probably the female Colombian vocalist Ana Maria Barajas. She has already been a member of the decent Colombian all female heavy metal band Highway and is the current singer of the symphonic gothic metal band Nova Orbis but her aqualung guest vocals in “Shadows” or “Things Of The World” sound as if they were out of breath and absolutely lackluster. These songs would be so much better with an adequate guest vocalist but as they are here these tracks are almost unlistenable to me.

    There are some positive things to mention though. The guitar and keyboard solos are filled with epic majesty, convince with hypnotizing melodies and are technically appealing. Some of them are a little bit overlong in my opinion but that doesn’t take off from their quality. The music itself should appeal to fans of Italian power metal in the style of the aforementioned Holy Knights and those who care for soft progressive metal in the vein of Dream Theater ballads. “Pray To End All Wars” is a great song for example even though it copies maybe a little bit too much from several famous progressive rock and metal bands. The epic and well elaborated “Go To Fight” is another great song inspired by the big names of the genre. The closing piano ballad “I Can’t Live Forever” has a very cinematic, symphonic and maybe even slightly world music inspired feeling. Even the female vocals sound good in here because it’s a calmer and less challenging track. Only the weird vocal effects for the narrative passages kill the track’s great atmosphere towards the end.

    After all, there is a lot of lights and shades on this release. Musically, this band is quite promising. A few tracks are atmospheric, harmonious and intellectually appealing. On the other side, Gabriels has to improve its directionless song writing. The band should invite a few more famous and talented guest musicians that can push them and help them get some attention. The musicians should especially get rid of the stupid narrative passages in their songs. Finally, the band should maybe try to get more active on the internet and write a biography in proper English if they want to aim a more international market. Even though Prophecy has quite some flaws, I actually enjoyed listening to this release as it has a very coherent, enchanting and relaxing flow. If you care for progressive metal, you can give this release a few spins on the band’s Bandcamp site under the following link: http://gabrielsshiro.bandcamp.com/album/prophecy

    Originally written for The Metal Observer

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