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On disc: Vexillum

The Bivouac - Stephanie Malin - 8 stars

The Bivouac

The Bivouac
(Limb Music - 2012)

Vexillum's The Bivouac appears to be a hidden treasure - it is by no means perfect, but there are so many wonderful songs, and for the most part, the album flows incredibly well. The album opens with The Wanderer's Note, and as soon as the band start playing, it becomes obvious that the album is going to be a treat. For a band that has only really been around for a few years, they are already producing music of an astonishingly high quality. The album is all-round solid power metal with only a little room for small complaints. Dethrone The Tyrant is by no means a light song, yet it manages to be so gracefully melodic and, of course, it sounds positively outstanding. Next is Dancing Goddess, a song which goes from a beautiful waltz to a catchy chorus apt for headbanging. The Oak And Lady Flame is an exhilarating tale accompanied by the finest renaissance-style music. The Hunt also has a similar renaissance feel to it, but it is much faster and heavier, with face-shredding guitar work and ear-splitting percussion. The soft acoustic music of The Dream is almost heartbreaking with its beauty and splendor, and Vexillum seem to do acoustic incredibly well. The Marketsquare Of Dooley sees a return to typical power metal, with more amazing guitar solos provided by Michele Gasparri and Andrea Calvanico and the astounding vocals of Dario Vallesi, with an atmospheric acoustic section and a short vocal folk tune at the end of the track, the likes of which this album could have used more of; it really places you right in the heart of the market square. The song The Way Behind The Hill has a larger-than-life, epic feel to it, unmatched by most other songs on the album; both the lyrics and the music are incredibly uplifting, and the vocals on this track in particular are incomparable. Valhalla opens with a great orchestral section, followed up with some amazingly melodic guitar playing. Letter From The Earth utilizes memorable bagpipe melodies, fitting guitar harmonies and more beautiful acoustic sections in a winning combination. The next track, Megiddo, takes a new direction with distinctly Middle Eastern elements, and although a little out of place, Vexillum seem to have pulled it off well. The album finishes with The Last Inn, which was a surprisingly disappointing conclusion to the album; it is by no means a terrible song, but it is certainly anticlimactic. By the time all of the music has finished playing, however, it is easy to look back on the album and appreciate how wonderful the tracks are, and how the production creates an atmosphere which will fill you with childish glee. Although it is not the Holy Grail of power metal, The Bivouac is an album that power metal fans should definitely try out.

8 stars

Stephanie Malin


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