Italian power metal has always had a fairly unique sound to it. Unlike many other countries in the world, there aren’t a lot of Helloween worship or tribute bands. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but let’s be realistic here: Helloween is the reason we all listen to this style of music. Fortunately, there is SkeleToon, and they pay homage to the gods with their newest record “Ticking Clock”. After the channel surfing sounds that open the album (which may remind one of Helloween’s “Occasion Avenue”), there is a flurry of double bass and harmonized leads that eventually make way for insanely high-pitched vocals (possibly too high-pitched?). Sound familiar?
The claims in this opening paragraph are somewhat exaggerated. “Dreamland” absolutely is undeniable Pumpkin worship, but the entire album is a more eclectic mix of sounds and styles, falling back on dual guitars when not choosing to experiment. The record does not resemble the orchestra overload of Rhapsody, nor the brilliantly romantic sounds of Labyrinth and Secret Sphere. Instead, SkeleToon simply opts for a more basic power metal sound, at times channeling bands like Edguy or HammerFall, or any other number of groups. This is partially due to the number of guests that appear on the album (including members of Edguy, Iron Savior, Trick or Treat, and Korpiklaani). Each of these artists lends their unique touch to the music, making “Ticking Clock” struggle to find an identity. This isn’t inherently problematic, however. All of the aforementioned bands are great at what they do, and SkeleToon, despite moving around a little too much, is successful at replicating these styles.
One slight exception to that is “The Awakening”. For the majority of its nearly 11-minute runtime, the song gets the job done as a serviceable power metal epic, but there is a moment where it goes completely off the rails shortly after the two-minute mark, perhaps in an attempt to replicate the silliness of several German power metal groups. Aside from this, it’s hard to file a complaint. The ballads, “Watch Over Me” and “Falling Into Darkness”, might not be the most inspired efforts, but certainly aren’t as heinous as some of the creations power metal has unleashed. The flaw of this album, if any, is really just that the songwriting doesn’t reach the heights of any of the competition. SkeleToon is unquestionably a breath of fresh air in the Italian power metal scene (perhaps only competing with Trick or Treat), but in a global landscape, may struggle to earn repeat plays against similar and more focused bands with stronger execution.
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“Night Ain’t Over”
3.8/5 or 76%.