I've always been a fan of one-off musical homages to famous literary stories. Iron Maiden did "Murders in the Rue Morgue" and Crimson Glory did "Masque of the Red Death." Both fabulous metal classics that both entertained and educated the listening public. But on paper I would be skeptical of an entire album dedicated to a horror writer's (Stephen King) multi-book series (The Dark Tower) and now major motion picture.
The additional challenge to this type of project is Mindfar is practically a one-man gig with Amando De Angelis writing the songs and playing guitar and Walter Bosello doing the vocals and keyboards with a female singer backing him up. I strongly would have preferred a full band taking on the incredible scope of a seven-book series.
With that said Amando manages to be impressive with lyrical interpretations that allow the vocalist to stay engaged and interesting in a most dramatic way. He bills this approach as a rock opera but I disagree and hear a multi-level concept album attempting to cover seven stories in ten songs. The opening track "The Gunslinger" strikes the perfect charisma to open the album and introduce the story to the audience.
"The Drawing of the Three" and "The Wasteland" are moody but melodic bridge songs that showcase fine guitar work and strong vocals but are diminished by a drum machine that doesn't always sound like it was mixed correctly in the final production. Never has a living breathing drummer been more needed. In "Wizard and Glass" the female vocals though beautiful take something away from the story telling. I am unsure why it was necessary to slow down the tempo this soon into the album concept unless its creator is really taking the rock opera definition to the logical end.
"The Story of the Clergyman pt. 1" and The Story of the Clergyman pt. 2" are shorter pieces that lack the clarity or heft of stronger tracks like "The Wolves" and "Her Song" and force you to consider if Amando's influence or taste lie in the longer compositions. "The Wolves" is by far the most interesting and musically accomplished song I have heard in quite some time. It speaks volumes to what one creative and determined man can do with limited resources. And it points to a promising future for I believe this is someone whom is bound to strike gold in the years ahead.
The title track "The Dark Tower" is the final track and often such length (15.08) is obligatory in the concept album universe – they all do this to a form and a fault. But I find it absolutely essential on this album for it ties up loose ends and displays flashes of brilliance and balance that are missing from parts of the album. As with a long-distance race sometimes folks only remember how you finish. I look forward to Amando's next inspired effort.
01. The Gunslinger 4:29
02. The Drawing Of The Three 6:05
03. The Waste Land 5:07
04. Wizard And Glass 4:16
05. Little Sisters 1:52
06. The Story Of The Clergyman pt1 2:13
07. The Wolves 4:45
08. The Story Of The Clergyman pt2 1:53
09. Her Song 8:10
10. The Dark Tower 15:08