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Friday, February 14, 2014
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Pffoooh...okay now...about 4 years ago colleague Erik did a review of the sophomore full-length release by this Bergamo (Lombardy) based Italian Power Metal act (and you can still consult it in the “Archive” section of this here website, posted 10/07/2010), but he kinda left out giving a decent history of the band...so that's now up to me, ain't it?

Well, the band was founded back in 1999 as a pure Power Metal six-piece act, but even that same year a first line-up change occurred, leaving only founding members Luca Arzuffi (lead guitar), Marco KasteCastellano (lead vocals) and Dibo (keyboards), who immediately took on new members Ivan Della Morte (rhythm guitar), Mauro (bass), and Beppe (drums). The latter two both left in 2000, and apparently only the drummer was replaced by Mattia, leaving the bass unoccupied until 2002, when the singer double-functioned for a year. Eventually, current bassist Xavier Rota entered the fold in 2003. Meanwhile, some more internal shifting occurred. As the original keyboardist left in 2001, Della Morte took over his function, also taking on backing vocals in the exchange. To fill in the void, Manuel was recruited on the rhythm guitar...but he left a year later, to be replaced by Claudio Arzuffi. 2003 also saw quite some movement on the drum stool, with Mattia departing to be temporarily replaced by Diego, and shortly after by Alberto Baldi. So...it's with a line-up including Castellano, the two Azuffi's, Della Morte, Rota and Baldi, that the band recorded its 2004 5-track demo Ray Of Time.

The release was followed with several gigs, among which notable support slot shows with Stormlord and an appearance at UK's Bloodstock 06. The latter however, was already with new singer Jonathan Spagnuolo (formerly of Vigdis, now with Drivhell), whom made his recorded debut on the February 2007 released debut album Horns Of Silence (issued through Metal Crusade Records). Oddly enough, even prior to that debut album was released, a split album with Aleph, Fuoriuso and ProgressiveXperience (which was apparently distributed by famed AOR label Frontiers Records) came on the streets, with three songs also on the demo, on which drums were performed by session drummer Edoardo Sala (whom was to join the band officially in 2008). Some more confusion, anyone? On their own site (www.) spellblast.com, the band states that their debut album (on which Elvenking's Damnagoras did a guest vocal performance) was originally self-released at the end of 2006 (oh wait...I'm beginning to see through the apparent mists!), and then the band was picked up by Fear Records (and the album was subsequently distributed by Self in Italy, and by Frontiers Records on the international market). The album's sound, which is still mainly Power Metal based, starts to show some Folk music infusions at this time.

On the side, it should be mentioned that in 2008, Luca Arzuffi also starts playing in Folk Metal act Folkstone (a side-venture which would last until 2010). Della Morte apparently found an exit of the Spellblast venture, and so to record the band's 2010 album Battlecry, Luca invited the Folkstone bagpipe players to enrich the album with their sounds! As guest singer, the band this time called on Fabio Lioni (of Rhapsody Of Fire and Vision Divine fame), and they even did a couple of shows with him added to the line-up. But, sadly enough, more line-up changes were to follow during the writing process of the current album. It's all a bit jumbled-up, depending on which source one consults. The band itself speaks of replacing its drummer and rhythm guitarist, recording a video for their track “Ragnarok (Dream Of The End)”, and having some dates planned for a short Finland tour toward the end of May of last, prior to goin' into the studio to record their third album. We find that Sala is indeed replaced by one Luca Cortese, whom himself is replaced by current drummer Michele Olmi (also active in Chronosfear) in early 2013. Around that same time, the band exchanges its frontman for new singer Daniele ScavoScavoni...and we now find that the rhythm guitarist has also decamped. Making the actual line-up for the new album a foursome!

About the album itself...it's a concept thing, loosely based around Stephen King's The Dark Tower. No idea what the latter's actually about, but there you have it: a concept album...with lyrics written by one Daniele GenoCaravini...and with an amazing amount of keyboard-generated strings and orchestrated sounds, for a band not even sporting a member to execute those sounds on a stage, if need be! Of course, in the studio the band could rely on co-producer Remo Baldi (hum...family to Alberto, by any chance?) to work out all orchestral arrangements, but how would the band manage on stage, I wonder? Then, there's also a couple of songs on which trumpet (courtesy of one Alberto Condina) and some”church” bell percussion is used (with as effect some Ennio Moricone-like music – check the instrumental “Highway To Lud”, parts of “The Reaping”, the opening section of “Until The End”, and the second part of album closing track “The Calling”), as well some acoustic guitar (played by Stefano Colleoni). Also, there's quite a lot of guitars on the album, with occasionally two lead guitar parts on top of a rhythm guitar! The singer has a really powerful voice, and his English is relatively without accent (except in the way sentences are occasionally ended, you'd think he – and his aiding backing singer – never spoke any Italian at all).

As per usual, I've looked around on Internet to find some sites on which you can find some music y the band, and I have to say that all of the band's previous material (including the demo) can be found in the “Music Store” section at (www.) facebook.com/spellbound, and in the “Music Player” section you can link to the band's official store, where you get a possibility to listen to samples of all of the new album's 13 tracks & songs. For an official video of the new album's “Eyes In The Void” (which is regrettably without any of those Western music influences), surf to (www.) reverbnation.com/spellblast.