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White Skull: The Dark Age

When a label responsible for some of the world's finest melodic hard rock (Giant, Hardline, Harem Scarem, Honeymoon Suite and Ten, to name just five in the past year) releases an album whose artwork features an Iron Maiden-type monster looming over a naked woman bound in chains and crying in agony, somehow you know you're not in for a bunch of na-na-nas and whoa-ooh-oohs.

White Skull's The Dark Age is the latest in a slew of recent releases from Now & Then/Frontiers Records that embrace rock's heavier side. In fact, the fifth album by this Italian traditional metal quintet is easily the heaviest band on the label's roster. It's also the first White Skull album to feature a male singer. Gustavo "Gus" Adrian Gabano rips his throat out on songs like the title track, "Torture" and "Sentence of Death," but his heavily accented, sandpaper voice takes some getting used to.

A concept album based on the crimes of the Inquisition, The Dark Age revels in old-school metal but dabbles with the symphonic and progressive elements of the genre (the Stratovarius-like "New Crusade" and the Rhapsody-ish "Devil's Woman"). Other highlights include the Scorpions-inspired "Maid of Orleans" and "The Edict," which recalls Iron Maiden. The Scorps and Maiden, these guys are not. But with the acquisition of Gabano, White Skull could give the likes of Helloween and Gamma Ray a run for their money. Now & Then/Frontiers has made a bold and impressive move…

Added: September 10th 2002
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Now & Then/Frontiers Records
Hits: 2397
Language: english

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