Bastian is a hard rock band out of Italy, who have been around since 2003. Their first album, Among My Giants, was poorly regarded, even though they hired some bigger names (like Vinnie Appice) to guest star, and they are still a band in search of a global following. They give it a valiant effort with this, their second album.
Rock of Daedalus opens with a rocker, “Strange Thoughts”. A long intro with a powerful staccato riff, guitarist Sebastiano Conti plays the lead role and this song quickly became one of my favorites. He also shows off smoking solos on tracks such as “Man in Black” and “Steel Heart”. Conti does a nice job varying his guitar style from one song to the next – sometimes soulful, sometimes shredding, he shows off his abilities well. Another of my favorites, “Vlad”, begins with a Sabbath-like heavy riff to match the topic, a story of the “black underworld.” Meanwhile the opener and “Steel Heart” have a faster pace with a lot of notes. It’s quite a wide spectrum, and it makes for a good variety in the music.
The lyrics are definitely going to be a take it or leave it proposition for many people. Similar to the first album, Lead singer Michael Vescera sings stories set to music – “Vlad” (the Impaler?), “Terminators” (Ahnuld!), “The Pide Piper” [sic], “Smokin’ Joe” (Frazier) and so on. His voice is pretty unique to me – somewhat high pitched, but with good power. Sometimes, though, the lyrics get in the way of good songs. There are some great riffs here. And the bass lines set down by Corrado Giardina really add to the heaviness of the music. I don’t think Vescera’s voice is always ideal for the gloomy environment, but he definitely belts it out with as much character as he can give it.
Bastian certainly shows off their influences, and to good effect. The sounds of the Scorpions and Dio can be heard, along with the aforementioned Sabbath. Another one of my favorites, “Man in Black”, has a more progressive sound, like Queensryche. The intro and riff in “Smokin’ Joe” evince Hendrix. But it doesn’t always work. What starts out like Zeppelin’s “Over the Hills” turns more into GnR “Patience” on the final tune, “Wind Song”.
Still, there some really good songs here. My favorite is definitely “Steel Heart”, where drummer John Macaluso finally gets to show off. Maybe I’ve been influenced too much by my surroundings in Japan, but the breakdown at the end into a drum and guitar fracas will win you over. The production is very smooth, without a lot of extra noise – just instruments and voices. I would like to think these songs will play very well – and loud – live in concert. Maybe there will still be more stories told in the future.