Review: SONGS FROM BLACK SPIRIT “I Am Who I Am” [Sliptrick records]

Review: SONGS FROM BLACK SPIRIT “I Am Who I Am” [Sliptrick records]

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This year the label Sliptrick Records has released the solo album of Lithuanian heavy metal singer Don Vito (Vitalis Kairiūkštis), 19 songs within 90 minutes and a bunch of notorious guest musicians! The album’s title “I Am Who I am” speaks for itself and perfectly reflects the controversial and fighting spirit of this talented musician, who sings in various Lithuanian heavy metal bands since the early 1980s (the most notorious among them is Spicy Bits of Scandals).

The album is full of energy and drive, and great credit for it lies on guest musicians, they have contributed to the variability and unique vision of this album, making the music of Don Vito far more interesting. There are lots of them – Mark Cross (Helloween), Thomas Vikström (Therion), Dino Fiorenza, Bob Katsionis (Firewind), Salvatore Giordano (Derdian) are among them, as well as many others, local and foreign. And with such a strong support, so pure and classic heavy metal release with all the familiar clichés turned out to be incredibly dynamic and lively.

On the one hand “I Am Who I am” would ideally fit into the golden times of heavy metal of 80s with its traditional way of composing, but on the other hand it is soaked in the spirit of modernity, as if balanced between old school and contemporary music. But nonetheless all the heavy metal traditions here are fully respected – middle or increasing tempo, high voice, pompous and fighting spirit, important role of solo-guitar, loud drums. But there are plenty of surprises as well – uncommon musical instruments (horn-pipe, duduk, kanklės), providing with the ethnic motives, five guest singers (three of them are female), symphonic elements, synths from 1970s, and even growling. So definitely “I Am Who I am” isn’t an ordinary heavy metal release.

The guitars play the key role on this album, especially in regard to lengthy and soulful solos on every song, sometimes in a classic heavy metal way, but sometimes with distorted and modern sound (like in the song “Attack!!!”). Generally the album is performed in a middle tempo, but there are also very speedy and playful compositions (like “Avalon” or “World Is Turning”), as well as ballads (“My Devotion”, “Fire and Water” or “Chasing Starlight”). “Time” is closer to traditional doom metal of 1970s, so slow and dark. The folk elements are significant on the tracks “Avalon” and “Whore Of Babylon”, but “Paranoia” shines with a symphonic chorus. The synths here play a background role, but some songs are considerably softer due to them (like “The Wolfman” or “My Way Home”) or even add some extra pop lightness (like “My Life My Death My Destiny”). The voice of Don Vito is quite memorable, but not very pleasant, with a lot of emotions and hoarse shrillness. Alas, there are not enough guest singers to diverse this album (his duets with female singers are much mature and serious), because he doesn’t use the potential of his voice to the fullest possible extent.

This is the first solo album of Vitalis in the history of his musical career with 15 brand new songs, and it is clear, that he had prepared for it with a serious accuracy. His name is respected on a metal scene, so no wonder, that so many notorious musicians from the entire world wished to honor his first solo record.

Release date: May 26th, 2020

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