Italic metallers Hesperia from Macerata, Marche are back with their latest full-length album entitled “Metallum Italicum – Aeneidos Metalli Apotheosis pars IV“. With this album the band closes its tetralogy “Aeneidos Metalli Apotheosis” that started back in 2003, based on the Roman poem “Eneide” written by Virgilio. Hesperia is the personal project of Hesperus since 1997 and he has released 5 full-length albums so far. “Metallum Italicum” was out on January 24th 2015 via the Greek label Sleaszy Rider Records, who also released Hesperia’s previous album.
Since the previous album “Spiritvs Italicvs“, Hesperia seemed willing to experiment more with their sound, adding many new elements in their songs. The band has changed a lot since the raw black metal sound of the early years. They have a unique sound that it’s really hard to describe. Based on old school epic metal with a ‘70s-‘80s hard ‘n’ heavy sound aesthetic, they enrich their music with elements from pagan black metal, Italian music and ancient Italic-Roman folk, patriotic classical music and soundtrack-like instrumental parts. In this album Hesperus even dares to add opera passage sang by a solo tenor! Despite the co-existence of so many different genres and the huge musical difference with the band’s previous albums, in a magical way the music still sounds 100% Hesperia, something that proves the strength and honesty of the “main idea” behind this project.
“Spiritvs Italicvs“ includes 10 songs totally, with a duration of 43 minutes. The album is divided in 3 parts (each one including an intro and 2 tracks) plus an outro. So there are actually 6 main songs, “De Bello Italico I & II“, “Metallum Italicum I & II” and “Hesperia” & “Hesperia’s Triumphator“. Their guitars, which are dominating their sound, are now clearly closer to classic heavy metal, still remaining epic and raw, while their orchestrations are enriched by epic keyboards and several acoustic instruments. Their compositions often change speed and “mood”, moving from epic heavy metal and rock to extreme black metal outbreaks (clearly reduced, but still existing) and everything in-between. The overall song structures and sound aesthetic has a somehow retro nostalgic mood and this is one of the band’s trademarks. And while the compositions are complex with many changes, at the same time there are many super-repetitive parts, like some of the refrains. Hesperus however manages to balance all the contrasts in his song in a very interesting and personal way.
One of the basic ingredients of this album is of course the huge variety in the vocals that give an almost theatrical approach to the whole work. Besides the lead vocals of Hesperus, this album is full of guest singers from many Italian bands, including Imago Mortis, Morkal, Legion of Darkness, The True Endless, Skoll, Ecnephias, Centvrion, The Black, Requiem, Namter, Malnàtt, Ibridoma and Antagonism. C. Malvestiti participates for the soprano choirs and C. Bartolacci as the Tenor voice. There is also a non-Italian guest, Knjaz Varggoth of Nokturnal Mortum from Ukraine! Of course it is still Hesperus vocals that have the protagonistic role in the album. He sings with his characteristic style, changing between narrations, whispers and epic metal vocals, neither too melodic or too brutal. There are still some black metal screams, but much more rare than the past. The lyrics, like in all Hesperia albums, are in their native language. The concept of this album focuses on the last 3 chapters of ”Eneide”, that includes 12 chapters totally. Once again the album is recorded in unusual places, open places. Half of the album was recorded at the Roman Theater ruins of the ancient Roman town of Helvia Recina and the other half was recorded at DPF Studio over an ambient track (apparent silence) taken by Hesperus near the lake of Sibilla on the Sibillini Mountains.
Summing up, I believe this is the most complete, ambitious and “digestible” album of Hesperia. The new elements are working perfectly and especially the few operatic vocals fit in very well. “Metallum Italicum – Aeneidos Metalli Apotheosis pars IV” is released via Sleaszy Rider Records in a limited to 1000 copies jewel-case CD edition with slipcase, including bonus multimedia stuff plus a 23x23cm poster with the cover artwork. The CD also includes a 16-page booklet with all the lyrics, recording facts and analytical explanations of the concept. There is a remarkable and detailed work for the visual presentation of this album, which is an extra motivation to get a physical copy in your hands. You can visit this unique band’s official pages for more details and samples of their music. You can also watch the 2nd official video of the album “Metallum Italicum I” bellow, or the previous video for “De Bello Italico I” here.