Sound Storm - "Vertigo" (CD)
"Vertigo" track listing:
2. The Dragonfly
5. Original Sin
6. The Ocean
10. The Last Breath
Reviewed by CROMCarl on February 6, 2017
The impact of “Immortalia” still resonates four years since Sound Storm released that album. It was both quintessential defining moment and the anti-sophomore jinx all rolled up into one. Listening to that again when the band finally broke a four year silence to announce the impending release of “Vertigo,” the bar and my expectations were set exceedingly high. Perhaps it was too high, since “Vertigo” is the quintessential “grower.” It took many more listens than usual to understand the type of masterpiece that this is. What you have is a forward looking, very deep and multi-layered progressive album that draws a just bit on past works. It truly doesn’t matter how “Vertigo” compares to “Immortalia,” for it stands as work of art in and of itself, but from a different direction than expected.
Just over halfway through 15 full passes of “Vertigo,” I was reminded of that scene from Shrek when the main character tries to explain to a talking donkey that “Ogres are like onions.” Peeling back those layers to get to the root of what composer/guitarist Valerio Sbriglione was trying to convey was incredibly challenging at first. I found myself looking for “Call Me Devil” or “Blood of Maiden,” and ended lost in a sea of droning choirs and progression. Make no mistake about it - “Vertigo” is a highly orchestrated and has much more progressive multi-layered sound than its predecessor. It will catch you a bit off guard, but if you peel back those layers it will all come into focus.
The interesting choice of “Vertigo” as the title is intriguing since it captures the essence of an album that carries you on a dizzying journey that approaches dangles the listener over its steep cliffs. If played in full, the album becomes one long 52 minute merged track akin to Insomnium’s “Winter’s Gate” masterpiece. However, if you skip through the tracks they all have a defined start and stop point. Some of the songs act more like intros/bridges connecting more “important” tracks, especially “Vertigo,” “Sprial,” and “Alice.”
“The Dragonfly” really sets the tone of this highly progressive direction and Fabio Privitera brings a whole different dimension to the band’s sound. One thing that takes a very long time to get used to is the choirs, which from the onset were especially distracting. The main riff gallop harkens to earlier material. On songs like “Metamorphosis,” “Original Sin” and closer “The Last Breath,” Privitera really shines in a different light than the Bejelit days. He comes across a bit like Tony Kakko, especially in the stellar “Original Sin.” If you want a full on “Immortalia” feel then “Gemini” is where you’ll want to skip to every spin. Another incredibly rich song is “The Ocean,” which is highlighted by Alessandro Bissa’s percussion.
The success of “Vertigo” is directly affected by the various lineup changes since “Immortalia,” which saw the departure of key members Phillipe D’Orange (vocalist), Federico Brignolo (drums) and keyboardists Alessandro Musico and Davide Cristofoli. Once again, Sound Storm is a completely different band… for the third time in three full length studio albums. Very few groups can withstand this kind of turnover and still put out a respectable record. Then again, few bands are Sound Storm. Honestly, for fans of the band, “Vertigo” will take some nurturing and repeat listens. Stick with it… I promise it will all come into focus and the dizziness will wear off.
Highs: Coming from different angle, Sound Storm goes a bit more progressive but still pulls of another great release.
Lows: This album is a grower and some people might not have the patience.
Bottom line: After so many repeated listens, I finally understand "Vertigo," but man am I dizzy.
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