Scelerata – Light and Darkness

By Christopher J. Oatis 

You ever get in one of those moods where you have to listen to your favorite band’s entire discography. When you venture back into those early albums, the experience can be interesting. In some cases, the earlier work may echo of inexperience, but, since you already know the future, you can appreciate the seeds of what will grow into a complete and excellent sounding band.

Scelerata’s Darkness and Light rings loudly with that incomplete sound of a band that is still learning. “Potential,” is a word that is probably going to become useful during the course of this review. Their sound is interesting and at times contains some nice complex progressive elements, but more often than not the vocals sound strained and the music seems like a musical quilt sown together from the metal scene of yesteryear. It has mostly all been done.

Darkness and Light is defined by heavy guitars and heavy drums. This is a motif that is over used by the band. There a few exceptions from this formula. “Spirits Looking For” is a darker track that sounds reminiscent of earlier Kamelot. Then you have “Wings to Fly,” which charges out with a stronger galloping beat than the rest of the album, but it doesn’t exactly march to the beat of a new and different drummer. This track sounds like a blend of Walls and Jericho and Keeper of the Seven Keys era Helloween. These afore mentioned songs are some of the stronger sounds on the album, but their melody does not exactly define Scelerata’s individuality.

Song like “The Spell of Time” illustrates the bands (here comes that word) potential. During the track, we have a ballad-like-intro, some “jammy” complex guitar work, and a harmonization outro, of sorts, but the problem of that inexperienced sound remains in this song. It comes at the listener like a jig-saw puzzle with missing pieces. There are so many good ideas and sounds throughout this song, and the guitar work is great, but nothing seems to fit together especially the harmonization at the end which sounds more tacked on then anything else.

BAM BAM BAM. More heavy guitars and drums take the listener into “Ethereal Places.” While this one also has a subtext of interesting guitar work, the vocals do not match up. They sound very strained on this track, but at the last minute they throw in an epic fanfare outro that the vocalist seems more comfortable singing along with, but it is far too late to mold this one into a complete song.

“Endless” tries some instrumental experimentation to break up the monotony, but this song unfortunately is more of the same: heavy, speedy drums and guitar work that the vocals can not match up with and weaker harmonization tacked on at the end. The listener should just be glad this one does not live up to its name.

The title track begins with some promise. Its vocals are within a comfortable range for the lead man and he sings well along with the music. Unfortunately, he tries to sing higher as the music starts to run towards a refrain. Then the tempo drops back down, and the listener is lulled into a false sense of security; those high and strained vocal sounds will return. “Darkness and Light,” is probably one of the better illustrations of vocal talent on the album even though voice control is still lacking at moments.

Then we move onto that obviously longer and epic track that every metal album must have by law. Scelerata calls theirs “Adonai.” This song is essential a recap of the previous nine. Shockingly, it begins with heavy drums, has some more soaring guitars, and even adds some weird chanting for flavor. Some of the vocals are okay and it has a refrain that is almost catchy. It even dips down into that ballad sound that Scelerata loves to showcase in small doses. The singing still sounds more distracting than complimentary to the music behind it, and eventually, the song just wastes away into the same instrumental used to intro the album in “Land of The Sins.”

The album does have its strong points. One of them is “Eminence.” This song uses some similar elements, but in a more controlled fashioned. The pieces fit together and the music does not get away from the vocalist. “Holy Fire” accomplishes a similar task. It has a catchy sound and conveys basic fun metal to the listener.

While I appreciate the complex elements that the band is trying to incorporate throughout the rest of the album, I do not feel these elements are being done as well as they should and can be. What I hear in Darkness and Light are those seeds of potential that I hear when I go back and listen to all of my favorite bands’ earlier work. There is a lot of good music waiting to “click” here, but it’s still a work in progress.