Review || Stage Of Reality - S/T

Stage Of Reality released their self-titled album on October 14th. I will be frank. I was recently sent the promotional singles but wasn’t really impressed by what I heard. When I got the invite to review the album, it was the guest appearances of Amanda Somerville and Blaze Bayley who caught my attention and I decided to give it a go. Enrobed in a classic-yet-modern-slash-progressive-slash-power-but-mainly-heavy metal, the album contains 11 tracks (ten original and a cover).

“Spectral Drum Down” kicks off with a vivid, in-your-face riff. The singing interchanges between caustic chest voice on the verse and a flowy James LaBrie-like belting in the chorus (the vibrato sounds somewhat forced and not always fully sustained in the lower register but that’s repairable). “Think Twice” has some solid headbanging potential. Halfway through, however, it fails to fully blend and incorporate the different styles elements that are introduced, somewhere in between also failing to keep the listener fully focused. When it returns to the theme, it’s too late. The third track, "Warlord" features Blaze Bayley. Although I’ve never been a fan of mid-nineties Iron Maiden (or his attempts to remain relevant over the years that followed; fight me), he is a good addition to the song, as his voice mixes really well with Damiano Borgi’s. “Not In Vein” has a groovy vibe that develops into a Helloween-esque crescendo. Me likes! “Don’t Touch The Children” is one of the heavier tracks of the album while “Back To Black” is (you guessed it) an Amy Winehouse cover. Enter Amanda Somerville. I love this woman, I really do; her vocal capacities are tremendous, and on this song I feel she’s holding back. I mean, it would be bad if a guest singer overshadowed the vocalist… That aside, the song has a delightful arrangement, breathing new life into it.
“Wake Up” and “Legitimate Rage” are more anthemic and groovy, touching on the hard rock edge of the music. "Never", one of the singles, is a power ballad that starts acoustically and builds a lovely emotional tension. “Bad Religion” is the most classic metal-influenced song while "Dignity" closes the album. Apparently, it's a remix of the song originally released as a single -and not even a better version, with those basically unnecessary electronic elements. Just go stream the original. 

It's a cute album but, overall, it doesn’t cut the mustard. It left me feeling it was makeshift, as if certain things were thrown together under the name of "experimentation" and without testing their consistency in the progress. The vocals at times sound forced but thankfully not strained, while the songs start off really promising and lose momentum as they go. Most importantly, the production is dull, not allowing the compositions to shine individually and therefore making the album sound like an amateur demo –not what one would expect from a seemingly experienced band on a label.
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