|5 (1 votes):|
Ascending from Italy, Circle of Witches deliver their third full-length album, Natural Born Sinners. Clocking in at around 48 minutes, this album is chocked full of heavy metal with some Latin chanting influences sprinkled throughout. And while I may have been captivated by this album’s presentation at first, I, unfortunately, found the latter parts more interesting. Why is this unfortunate you may ask? Well, this album’s sound can only carry it so far, so when I find more enjoyment in the non-metal, shorter tracks, I can only ask myself “Is this album worth my time?” The answer, in short, is a resounding “meh, why not?”
To begin with and as mentioned before, I must concede that this album has a great sound, most notably the vocals. While I’m not a fan of Mario “Hell’s” voice, the reverb coupled with the more melodic riffs add a level of imposing stature. His vocals easily carry the album and provide a more atmospheric and grand presence to the songs. However, this only gets Natural Born Sinners so far, as while the vocals and the rest of the instruments sound solid, they never stand out. Hearing a sample or the first song will certainly captivate the weary listener, but they will then be drag along by a selection of songs that range from good to repetitive and bland. It’s good heavy metal no doubt, but why should I care when there’s many greater heavy metal bands other than this?
Well to give the album credit where it’s due (again), I must say that the solos are superb. Every solo adds this level of rocking harmony and builds an epic image of spirituality. The vocal patterns are entertaining enough, and as I said before this already builds upon the foundation that the sound laid down. The writing really intermingles with the sound, and there’s solid chemistry with both. Nothing ever sounds out of place whether it be a simple riff or yet another ballistic solo of vivid proportions. The problem is that they never sound like they go the extra mile to make their good songs, great. I’d chalk it up to the substandard lyrics, but that would feel like an honest cop-out on my part. If I had to put my finger on it, I’d say that the band is trying too hard.
There is certainly raw effort, energy, talent, sound and songwriting chops here and that is appreciated immensely, but the album teeters on the line of having their own distinct style and not. Like I briefly mentioned before, the non-metal here is great. Tracks Deus Vult and Cult Of Baphomet, are exclusively tracks consisting of powerful chants backed by the almost religious zeal of intensity and ambiance. These bits of musical ideas aren’t exclusive, however, as the vocals go to show, not only with their mighty reverb but their patterns as well with the hooks of most of the songs. The best track to exemplify this would probably be Spartacus (Prophecy Of Riot). It’s got everything, the vocals, the wailing solo, the crawling and slowly rising chants, it’s a standout track! While it’s not my favorite, it certainly has the powerful personality the album almost has a grip on. If there was more of the church like ambiance and chants mixed with the traditional heavy metal on display, I’d be more predisposed to be blown away by it.
This album plays it safe but rides the line of having a distinct style that makes it worth revisiting. The heavy metal songs are good and all, but it’s the other great aspects of the album that give me hope. For fans of heavy metal this is a band that delivers on that front alone. Even I must admit that I was nodding along with some songs, entranced by the catchy melodies they ever so generously provide, but for the most part I was more interested with the Latin musical choice they decided to incorporate so underwhelmingly. Natural Born Sinners is blessed with having one of the best sounds I’ve heard all year as well as some riveting Latin elements and borders on being something extraordinary, so for that alone I must give its just due. Give it a listen, because I’ll be damned if they didn’t give it their all.
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