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Vexillum - Unum

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - by Limb Music

Pisa is primarily known for its leaning tower and less for great heavy metal. But the town has produced a band whose last album, "The Bivouac", shook the metal world awake and established their very own style. However, to describe their style simply as "Heavy Metal" is inappropriate, for the Italians have created a niche of their own. Dashing Euro-Power Metal interwoven with Celtic-/ Nordic-/Folk ingredients is not exactly a description one comes across often in the worldwide metal press.

On their albums, VEXILLUM, named after the individual legionary banner-standards used by legions of the Roman army on the march, realize their vision of hymnic Heavy Metal with an unmistakable stamp of their own. This vision and the uniqueness of this quintet is continued on their newest, epic long-player "Unum". Staying true to their style, they have succeeded in focusing it and bringing out yet more of its strengths. The concentrated work on their own identity has already borne fruit and their fans are looking forward to the new album. There are no unpleasant surprises - VEXILLUM is delivering what is expected of them - and more.

Founded in Pisa in 2004 by Michael Gasparri under the name of "SHADOW VEXILLUM", the formation was followed by several line-up changes before they became a stable group at the end of 2005. In that year the band recorded their first demo CD entitled "Tales" which already showed a musical uniqueness: the combination of Celtic-Nordic-Folk influences with fast, melodic Power Metal elements. The band underlined the sound optically at live shows by appearing on stage in Scottish kilts - and still do so today.

In 2006 Dario Vallesi joined SHADOW VEXILLUM as its new singer and still puts his own unique stamp of style and sound on the band. In the same year they began work on their first EP, "Neverending Quest". Parallel to the recordings, the Italians changed the band's name from SHADOW VEXILLUM to VEXILLUM, once again changing some band members in order to form the best possible conditions for the planned EP.

Musical support was gained by the two VISION DIVINE musicians Alessio Lucatti and Federico Puleri, who made guest appearances on "Rising From The Ruins". The EP was released in 2007 and received very positive reviews from all over the world. Their first important shows were played with bands such as ELDRITCH. In 2010 the band began work on their first album, which kept them busy all through the summer, in order to have it finished before the end of the year. "The Wandering Notes" on the Italian label My Graveyard Productions at the beginning of 2011. The lads' style had made enormous progress and the international press pricked up their ears in interest. Positive reviews confirmed that VEXILLUM had done everything right. The album gave the band the chance to work with friends from other bands, such as Fabio Lione (VISION DIVINE, RHAPSODY OF FIRE) and Alessio Lucatti (VISION DIVINE). The excellent reaction of the press led to VEXILLUM going on tour through Europe with RHAPSODY OF FIRE in February 2011. After the tour, they needed to find a new drummer at short notice and it was in the new formation that the quintet sat down to write the songs for the successor to "The Wandering Notes". From May until July 2012 the highly motivated Italians worked on "The Bivouac", which appeared in the stores on the Limb Music label in September of that year. The band stayed on track musically and thematically and so one once again met up with many of the familiar figures in the stories. They fixed their style in concrete and refined it in order to avoid being mistaken for any other band. "The Bivouac" was also welcomed into the metal scene.

Their style can be compared to bands such as RHAPSODY OF FIRE, LABYRINTH and HEIMDALL, whose influences can be heard, without, however, being simply copied. The album, recorded in the "Wanna Rock" studios, is melodic but has an edgy sound and Darrio Vallesi's voice impresses the listener more and more with his unmistakeable style.

An extensive tour comprising 26 shows with LUCA TURILLI'S RHAPSODY, FREEDOM CALL and ORDEN OGAN at the end of 2012 won VEXILLUM many new fans. In May 2013 they went on tour again, this time with FREEDOM CALL on the "Ages Of Light" Tour, which was also extremely successful. Hardly catching their breath, they immediately began work on "Unum", their third album. The band set their sights a lot higher for this work. "Unum" is a concept album, on which singer Dario Vallesi holds the sceptre as main character. He is supported in his singing role by internationally known vocalists Hansi Kürsch of BLIND GUARDIAN, Chris Bay (FREEDOM CALL), Maxi Nil (JADED STAR, ex-VISIONS OF ATLANTIS) as well as Mark Boals (MALMSTEEN, IRON MASK, RING OF FIRE), who sing the parts of other characters in the story. "Unum" is sure to establish VEXILLUM firmly on the heavy metal map of Europe.

"Unum" stands for a strong mixture of Power and Folk, marked by superfast guitars, great choruses, bagpipes and lots of small finesses, which the listener will notice and register. The cleverly thought-out concept is carried by the impressive vocals of Dario Vallesi and the wall of the dual guitars. The primarily up-tempo tracks often start of with fragments of sounds which convey the mood for the story and which take the listener along on a classical journey. The international guests mentioned above, such as Hansi Kürsch (BLIND GUARDIAN) or Mark Boals (MALMSTEEN, IRON MASK, RING OF FIRE), superbly fill out the songs without forcing themselves into the foreground. The songs, all highly melodic, do not sound overly polished, but the punchy sound blows your socks off. The furiously driving riff attacks harmonize perfectly with the hymnic melodies, which form the axis of the album. This is best heard on "The Sentenced-Fire And Blood", on which Hansi Kürsch places the stamp of his unmistakeable voice. Some of the tracks remind one of HAMMERFALL and ALESTORM without them being shameless copies. Rather, they mix together various influences in order to create songs of their own style. "The Way Back - The Clash Within” is one such power hymn, with a very unique, unforgettable chorus, whilst their own interpretation of the SLADE Hit, "Run Run Away" is sure to cause discussions although this great, intensive version will finally win through. "Unum" has loads of highlights thanks to the many well played musical finesses which manifest themselves in the overall sound, as the listener will realize. All this makes VEXILLUM to the top band of the Italian scene, with an unmistakeable style of great power metal and folk elements.

Line Up
  • Francesco Caprina - guitar
  • Efisio Pregio - drums
  • Dario Vallesi - vocals
  • Francesco Saverio Ferraro -
  • bass
  • Michele Gasparri - guitar
  • 01. The Departure: Blow Away The Ashes 6:46
  • 02. The Jester: Over The Clouds (Chris Bay from Freedom Call as The Jester) 4:57
  • 03. The Sentenced: Fire And Blood (Hansi Kürsch from Blind Guardian as The Sentenced) 5:39
  • 04. Lady Thief: What We Are (Maxi Nil from Jaded Star as Lady Thief) 4:47
  • 05. The Hermit: Through The Mirror (Mark Boals from Ring of Fire as The Hermit) 5:26
  • 06. The Way Back: The Clash Within 5:01
  • 07. The True Beginning: Standing As One 5:54
  • 08. Spunta La Luna Dal Monte (Tazenda) 4:53
  • 09. Run Runaway (Slade) 3:08

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