Heavy is the head that wears the crown
-- Reality Grey --
|■||Melodic death metal|
|■||Anto Addabbo||Guitars, clean vocals|
Review written by Corin Geypen.
Asher Media sent us Reality Grey’s latest album “Beneath This Crown.” This Italian melodic death metal outfit has already released two LPs, an EP and a demo. Having been on tour pretty much non-stop for quite some time pre-COVID, these gentlemen have graced the stage with some of the metal greats: Deicide, Malevolent Creation, Unearth, Sick Of It All, Municipal Waste, Hatesphere, Rotting Christ,… Reality Grey knows what they’re about. “Beneath This Crown” is self-released and distributed by Blood Blast (powered by Nuclear Blast & Believe).
“Legion” is one of those intros that grows and blossoms to then reach its pinnacle. It seems to ease the listener into the musical violence to come. “Fade In Fear” jumps right in and gets things started straightaway. Tommy’s scream-like growls play off Anto’s clean vocals in a style clearly reminiscent of In Flames and Soilwork. It’s not hard to hear Strid’s influence here. The music is low and dirty, as all good melodic death is. We’re dealing with musicians who know their instruments and who aren’t afraid to use them. The solo work is excellent and the song never puts a note out of place. The song feels very anthemic. At times, the music feels more like groove metal, which I like.
The beginning of “Kings Of Nothing” is a whirlwind you get swept up in almost immediately. I’m amazed at the range of Tommy’s screams and growls. He keeps switching and combining them in a way that I, as a budding metal vocalist, am personally jealous of. The song itself is another fine example of well-produced melodic death metal. The low groovy parts are great for headbanging and the song runs like a finely-tuned machine. I like that each Reality Grey song seems to have an influence from outside of their chosen genre. The solo at the tail end in “Kings of Nothing” takes me back to 1980s metal and is perfectly executed. While “Preachers Of Hatred” initially lulls you into thinking it’ll be a slow burn but it only takes a few seconds to change into an all-out race to the finish line. Vocals, guitars, bass, drums, they’re all moving along at high speed. I can already imagine the circling pit this song is going to create. Again, they take the time to slow things down and add what’s starting to feel like a trademark low groove part.
By the time we reach “Daybreakers” I like to think I have this band all figured out, heavy influences from Soilwork, As I Lay Dying, maybe some Unearth for good measure. And then you hear almost Randy Blythe-like growls and you discover a new dimension to Reality Grey. Anto’s clean vocals are also really excellent here. I love that clean vocal line. “Daybreakers” features some old school death, droning drums and guitars making a cool change from what came before. Despite their clear influences, this song proves that Reality Grey really is its own beast, with distinctly unique soundscapes that are all their own. “Powerblast” has this really catchy riff that carries the song. Combined with that awesome keyboard bit it’s impossible to sit still. After everything else I’ve heard, this one feels the most run-of-the-mill of the album. Despite that, this is still a quality track. “Multidimensional Hollow” features well-thought-out riffs, blasting drums and some pretty awesome screams. The Soilwork-like rhythms push this song through its 4:16 runtime.
The guitar jingle in “The Fury” turns into an earworm almost instantaneously. The song meanders its way through the finer melodic death metal tropes and delivers a solid headbanging experience. For the next song, entitled “Dreaming,” Reality Grey teamed up with Milly Florio of End Of Skyline fame. I was immediately thrown by her clean vocals. While the music is solid, I’m not sure the addition of Milly’s vocals on this track did them any favors. Milly’s voice is good, don’t get me wrong. But it seems like such a departure from the rest of this album and it feels like this song would work better on an Evanescence album than one of near metal greats. I’m sure that “Dreaming” will be a favorite of some, exactly because it is so different from the rest. But it’s not my proverbial cup of tea.
“Reascent” is a welcome return to form, with excellent riffs and drums. I fight the urge to ask Tommy for his vocal technique on this cool growling scream bit he does. It’s not one or the other and it’s fascinating. The pace is once again swift and to the point, the melodic riffs bringing the influences of Swedish melodic death to the fore. We hit title track “Beneath This Crown” and, to be honest, I’m waiting for the album to end. All these songs are rock solid and, really, I have no big complaints. But even well-produced, excellently-executed melodic death metal can overstay its welcome. Musically, Beneath This Crown takes us back to the Lamb of God style vocals combined with a fair amount of In Flames sounds. As a single, this is an excellent choice as it showcases Reality Grey’s strong points: great vocals, expert melodic riffs and solo work, and tight drums that are clearly a cut above most aspiring bands. There’s a reason these guys toured with some of the greats.
“Indelible Stains” has this interesting bit where the vocals seem to go counterpoint to the music, right before the solo. Very cool and definitely not something you hear a lot. Other than that, it’s full steam ahead with Soilwork-esque guitars and drums. The song offers some innovative ideas in terms of rhythms and vocals, with a catchy guitar riff on top. I really enjoyed the last minute or so, with the driving drums and guitars. “The Void” feels a bit more thrashy, the drums setting a fast baseline for the others to work around. Anto and Tommy work well together on this, clean and growl blending and playing off each other in a very organic way. It’s a worthy final song for “Beneath This Crown.”
At first glance, the cover for “Beneath This Crown” is simple, a solar eclipse with a bright line running left to right. However, when you look closer, you discern two globes, one in the foreground – which I think is earth – and one in the back, which could very well be our moon. The textures and color scheme give this cover some depth and a more tactile look. So what then, does this earth have to do with the crown they mention in the album title? Is the weight of the planet too much to bear? Is our planet reaching its eclipse? Considering the state of the world today, both are possible.
[SHARPEST SHREDS & BLUNTEST BLADES]
I have a hard time picking favorites on this album. There is a lot of good stuff here and each song has a section that makes it interesting. However, as I stated before, there’s too much of a great thing here. The songs blend together easily and no single song really stands out.
Reality Grey has obviously studied their craft and done it well. I can’t say there’s a single bad song on this album. But after a while, you feel you’ve heard it before and the album doesn’t surprise you after the first three or four tracks. Despite that fact you can’t keep your legs from moving or your head from nodding. Live, this band sounds like a party waiting to happen. I just wish they would have created two albums or split them onto two CDs at least, to give people time to properly savor all the different layers of greatness hidden in this album. I give “Beneath This Crown” a 7/10. Quality stuff. Make up your own mind by checking out the title track of “Beneath This Crown!"