Sound — 8
It's interesting how just a drop of creativity or substance can reanimate the stalest of genres; nothing is really beyond salvation, even if it is from a single gem amidst all the mediocrity in the world. With this in mind, along come Raintime to push this hypothesis to its limits, to try and make something out of the most detestable style of all: glossy, synth-drenched Eurometal. Previously an energetic, albeit fairly ordinary, melodic death/power metal band, these Italians have really gone in at the deep end with a big vision and the drive to try and fulfil it. Their means of realising the ambitious concept, based on expressing various colours through music, will not please everyone. The harsh vocals from the last two albums are pretty much gone, and only the most stubborn of PR's could really call Psychromatic' melodic death metal, even compared to the already borderline acts, Children Of Bodom and the like. Hundreds of these bland groups come out of mainland Europe every year, and Raintime do indeed have their ties, but somehow they manage to make the style quite entertaining. The secret is in the way their initial ideas are nurtured and developed into full songs; there are plenty of generic bits, riffs that could be tacked on to any old band and you wouldn't know the difference, but give em thirty seconds or so and, lo and behold, they all blossom. There's a charm in the way that predictable moments are almost always forgotten once things get into full swing, and that swing' relies on an impressive chemistry that doesn't see guitarists Matteo and Daniele wantonly flailing their skills about. In fact, everyone has their job to do and each member is rewarded with his deserved moment in the sun Logan Mader (yes, that one) must be given credit for his mix, which, in a worldwide first, actually gives the electronics the right balance between inaudible and overpowering. It's difficult to describe the experimentation that's going on here (bar the inevitably divisive disco beat of Turned Up And Down') as every element can be identified as belonging to a different area of metal discipline; it's simply the way that they're put together that makes this album that little bit different.
Lyrics — 8
It must be said, the concept of the album is not really a crucial part of its success. While the vision may have inspired the stylistic shift, I personally would have never noticed that Buried In You' sounded like yellow, or One Day' sounded like black, as I presume was the intention. The lyrics don't seem to carry the concept either, but no matter, they are perfectly enjoyable and they fit the music, colourless or otherwise. There's every chance that there's something I'm missing though, as the sneaky Morse code on the cover (translating to I am you) does suggest there's another layer or two to this puzzle. All will be explained in the coming press tour, I'm sure. The LaBrie-esque Claudio Coassin constructs many a good melody and fights through the fairly dense EQ to lay down plenty of big hooks, particularly on the heavier tracks. While some fans may miss his harsh vocals, there are some brief appearances, mostly towards the end of the album, and they're sounding just as good as ever.
Overall Impression — 8
Good first impressions can't be guaranteed, particularly for big fans of Tales From Sadness' and Flies & Lies', but if you feel that underlying appeal on the first listen, then it can be brought to the fore with ease. Either way, it's always interesting to see a band take a gamble with their artistic license, and if it works out well for them, as it has in this case, then great. Whether Psychromatic' is a sign of things to come, an ambitious one-off or just another step along the path Raintime have had laid out from the start is yet to be seen, but so long as tunes as good as Fire Ants' and Shift' keep coming, it's not worth worrying about.