Cristiano Filippini’s Flames of Heaven – “The Force Within” (Limb Music)
Battle Helm Rating
While definitely identifiable as power metal, this astonishing debut does a lot more than capturing genre stereotypes, reflecting the encompassing force of the personality known as Cristiano Filippini! Born in the Italian town of Pesaro, which is also the birthplace of Gioachino Rossini, it’s no surprise that Filippini’s career, and indeed life have been influenced by this famous composer. After learning guitar and piano, Filippini began composing aged 16, developing his brand Cristiano Filippini Music Productions, releasing 3 instrumental albums, “The First Crusade” (2010), “Flames of Passion” (2011) and “The Best of Swords and Flames” (2015), which can be attributed to the genre of Epic Symphonic Opera. After performing concerts in Italian opera houses and churches with a symphonic orchestra, he re-ignited his childhood dreams, and drawing upon all his skills and achievements to date, created Flames of Heaven, dedicated to the sound of epic symphonic power metal! From his contacts built through his career, Filippini has, in addition to his own guitar and keyboard skills, assembled near enough a super group made up of singer Marco Pastorino (Temperance), guitarist Michele Vioni (Vivaldi Metal Project), drummer Paolo Caridi (Geoff Tate’s Sweet Oblivion, David Ellefson, Reb Beach, Michele Luppi, Hollow Haze) and bassist Giorgio Terenziani (Arthemis). Recorded across three studios in Italy and then taken to Finland to be mixed by Matias Kupiainen (Stratovarius) and engineered by Mika Jussila (Nightwish, Stratovarius), “The Force Within” raises the bar in the power metal genre. Opening to the sound of a delicate piano and serene strings on’Always With You’, the passionate tones of Pastorino immediately capture your heart and when the music adds in its heaviness, the effect is nothing short of an emotional overload – and that’s before Vioni’s wailing guitar sends you running for the tissue box! Pumping in the majestic keys to Vioni’s dancing guitar work on ‘Dying For Love’, the deep melodies hook you in as Terenziani’s basslines make the sound even more moving along with bountiful harmonies adding their own irresistible heart felt touch – superb. Adding the speed and symphonic bombast of Caridi’s massive drums to ‘Lightning In The Night’, the guitars power the excitement as the keyboards sound beautiful melodies in leading up to the rapturous chorus topped off exquisitely by Pastorino’s highs resonating soul in every breath – and that’s just the first half as the second part is a mini concerto of fiery neo classical work of racing pianos and guitars dancing towards a climatic ending – wow! Thankfully calming the heart down but reaching deep into the soul, the moving emotions from the strings, piano and Pastorino’s touching tones on ‘Missing You’ is undeniable throughout this incredible song that lifts the spirit ever upward as each instrument adds in its own positivity to the point that you just don’t want this song, and indeed unmissable album to stop. Probably one of the best releases ever by Limb Music, Flames of Heaven does indeed break the boundaries but more importantly, bridges the gap between AOR, symphonic and (power) metal with impeccable style and armour unbound!