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Massacre (2014)
Rating: 7/10

The name of Matteo Lehmann rang a bell when I was offered to review his debut offering, and then I realised that the Italian has worked with ex-Iron Maiden and Wolfsbane frontman Blaze Bayley.

Lehmanized is the rather grotesque title of his debut offering and it’s one I’ve come to enjoy after a few listens. This is crunchy metal with a thrashy slant; no real surprise as Matteo Lehmann also features for thrash band Neurasthenia, but it’s also very much a refreshing and catchy slab of modern metal big on grooves and dominated by Matteo’s bellowing vocal.

Matteo Lehmann is accompanied by four talented musicians for this outing; bassist Andy Bigi, drummer Rick Perugini (Hellraiser) and guitarists Neil Grotti (Neurasthenia) and Ivan Demichev (Оратория).

Musically, it is not as progressive as I thought it might be, but when it does opt for a thrashier approach it contains some killer material. The first track to really grab me by the balls is ‘The Secret’, which has a contemporary gothic edge but also features an all too brief raging thrash segment before resorting back to an anthemic flow of infectious orchestration and hardy riffage.

I can’t knock Matteo for his will to get into the bloodstream, although there are times when the gothic instrumentation becomes a touch too predictable. ‘Like A Rock’ is a tad dull, but the title track offers a sort of late 90s groove-based progression and consists of a sturdy bass line and the fact that Matteo seems to get off on hearing his own tones, but fair play to him for constructing a clunky debut offering.

The album runs for some 40 minutes, but it’s a multi-layered lump of simmering effects, chunky guitar work and infectious choruses. ‘Let Me Pray’ is quite a slab; the riffs roll, the percussion churns and the backdrop symphony is something I can imagine that would go down well at European festivals. As a track, ‘Let Me Pray’ is the album’s most subtle passage featuring a really clever, complex bass, but for sheer cheesy dominance one cannot argue with the pacey ‘Gemini’ or the ascending drama of ‘Laid So Low’ with its bewildering tinkering. The latter also features guest vocals from Blaze Bayley.

Matteo Lehmann has clearly attempted to inject a touch of drama into his formula and most of the time it works, but even during its lulls Lehmanized is still an engaging rocker of a record bolstered by those inimitable vocals which have an 80s sort of smokiness about them, especially with the aforementioned ‘Laid So Low’. However, one cannot help feel that if Matteo hadn’t spent so much time fiddling with the dynamics, that this could have been a far more accomplished record, especially if delivered in a looser, more simplistic fashion. Still, this debut album from Lehmann contains several very good tracks to please the hard rock fan.

Neil Arnold

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