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Leo Biollo - "From The Depths Of Hell To The Gates Of Heaven" (CD)

Leo Biollo - "From The Depths Of Hell To The Gates Of Heaven" CD cover image

"From The Depths Of Hell To The Gates Of Heaven" track listing:

1. Demonic Abduction
2. The Depths Of Hell
3. Return Of Will
4. Desire To Rise
5. The Sage
6. Killing The Demon
7. The Gates Of Heaven

Reviewed by on January 17, 2010

"Biollo's greatest strength lies in his guitar playing, which blends the speed of Kerry King with some of the technicality of guys like Dave Mustaine, Chris Poland and Kirk Hammett."

There's something to be said for an artist taking complete control of his work in the way Canadian thrasher Leo Biollo has on his debut album, "From The Depths Of Hell To The Gates Of Heaven." Every note sung or played on the entire disc comes from Biollo, who also handled the MIDI sequencing for the drumbeats and wrote the songs, taking a metaphorical approach to his own life story.

There's also a lot to be said for the influences Biollo cites, which include Megadeth, Slayer and King Diamond. You can hear those influences in the way "Return Of Will" uses Megadeth's "In My Darkest Hour" riff as a springboard, as well as the Tom Araya-esque scream Biollo lets out near the end. Biollo proudly points out in the press materials that this is "metal from the '80s," and, for a while, that's OK, but begins to get a bit dated by the end.

Biollo's greatest strength lies in his guitar playing, which blends the speed of Kerry King with some of the technicality of guys like Dave Mustaine, Chris Poland and Kirk Hammett. Tracks like "Return Of Will," "The Sage" and "The Gates Of Heaven" have some excellent extended guitar breaks that give him a chance to cut loose and show what he can do in terms of both solos and rhythm work.

I do wish that he'd brought in a "real" drummer rather than doing the sequencing himself. Though it's not always a problem, the drums on this album do seem a bit "canned" in spots.

Biollo's vocals are serviceable, ranging from fairly melodic to grunts, growls and howls — in other words, it's thrash metal. He delivers the lyrics with the conviction of a man telling his life story. I'm not so sure about the story, which covers a trip to hell and the self-realization that allows one to ascend to a heavenly existence. It sometimes seems a bit like Biollo read Bill Wiese's "23 Minutes In Hell" as an inspiration for the earliest parts of the album.

As I said earlier, there's something to be said for an artist taking control of every aspect of his work — but there's also something to be said for knowing when to let go and let others add an influence. In controlling every aspect of the production, Biollo has created an album that sometimes feels less organic than a band effort might have, especially on the more musically adventurous tracks like "Desire To Rise."

Leo Biollo's musical journey "From The Depths Of Hell To The Gates Of Heaven" offers up 41 minutes of mostly good thrash. The guitar work is superb, and mostly covers up some lyrical and percussion sins along the way.

Highs: Guitar work on "The Gates Of Heaven" and "The Sage."

Lows: Drums sometimes sound canned and the lyrics are a bit lacking in spots.

Bottom line: A mostly good thrash record with many moments of guitar greatness.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)