Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pleonexia-Break All Chains

Pure Underground Records

Pleonexia, who hail from Turin, Italy and take their name from an ancient Greek term*, was formed in 2012 by Michele Da Pila (vocals, guitars and keyboards). Initially a one man band, and self-described by front-man Michele Da Pila as "Philosophic metal", Pleonexia eventually grew into a full-fledged project with Federico Fondrini (guitars/backing vocals), Leonardo Manoiero (guitars/backing vocals), Davide Arneri (bass/ backing vocals), Lorenzo Luca (keyboards) and Stefano Clara (drums/ backing vocals) filling out the ranks. This Italian six-piece, which (musically) revolves around Michele Da Pila's wide vocal-range and the skilled-use of twin guitar solos**, make their professional debut with "Break All Chains". While it's almost impossible to make any sort of assumption about this being a "Philosophic metal" act (as Pure Steel Promotion never seems to include lyrics with their promo releases) one can certainly remark on the actual music that makes up "Break All Chains". The album's promo material makes the claim that Pleonexia "play a mix of 1980s hard rock and heavy metal with strong epic influences and with lyrics that encompass philosophical subjects". OK, so we've already discussed how it would be hard to make any kind of guess about the lyrical approach of "Break All Chains" let's break down the other claims one at a time. It's true that this Italian six-piece draws upon a "mix of 1980's hard rock and heavy metal". But, it's an odd mix. Yes, there is a lot of eighties hard rock influences here (LeMans perhaps? Highway Chile?) although it's more like eighties MELODIC hard rock. And sure, there are plenty of leftover eighties metal movements (Manilla Road), but they mostly come in the form of Manowar-like epic metal or Liege Lord without the speed (or respectability). Translated that means that anyone who were to go into this one looking straight-up, kick ass eighties metal would be sorely disappointed. And here's the thing. Along with these elements of 80's (melodic) hard rock and (epic) heavy metal you have more then a little N.W.O.B.H.M.-influences (Phoenix Rising and maybe Praying Mantis?) creeping into the mix. Normally that would be a good thing, but here it all comes across as more of a mess as if these different genres were evolved in a horrific head-on collision! Add to that a so-so production, which is nothing terribly tragic, but it definitely ends up lacking any sort of punch, and what you end up with is an odd albums that tries really hard but never manages to take off. You would dare to hope that by album number two this band might be able to work out some of the kinks (frankly a lot of this is rather flat) and produce something a tad more "refreshing". For now though I'd tag this as a "hand's off band to watch".

*Directly from Wikipedia:  Pleonexia, sometimes called pleonexy, originating from the Greek πλεονεξια, is a philosophical concept in writings by Plato and Aristotle, employed also in the New Testament. It roughly corresponds to greed, covetousness, or avarice, and is strictly defined as "the insatiable desire to have what rightfully belongs to others", suggesting what Ritenbaugh describes as "ruthless self-seeking and an arrogant assumption that others and things exist for one's own benefit".

**While there are post-Judas Priest/Iron Maiden twin guitar solos they are not as potent as one would hope for.

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