Kalidia - Lies' Device (2014)

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With the site now back to a regular schedule, and moving forward the newest and perhaps best metal releases, it makes sense that we should look back in order to look ahead. Kalidia, as you may remember, is a growing female fronted band from Italy, led by the talented Nicoletta Rosellini. It wasn't long ago that their debut EP, Dance Of The Four Winds made its way to our desks and our ears. And though not much has changed in the Kalidia world, with only drummer Alessandro leaving the fold since then, there has been a tremendous amount of growth and maturity gained in that time. With the release of the debut full length album, Rosellini and company have taken a great stride from up and comers to here and now. Lies' Device is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor.

What stands out early is the expansion of the symphonic elements beyond what had been done before. The Lost Mariner is a complete track to kick off the album, with Rosellini and keyboardist Nicola Azzola leading the way. For a lead off hitter, it delivers on all fronts, even with a stripped down and easily misconstrued "simplistic" guitar riff. You have a great deal of melodic prowess to latch on to, with Rosellini's voice bringing everything together. The same could be said for Hiding From The Sun, but in a distinctly different way. Here, the drums and guitars are the focus, with Gabriele Basile hammering down a solid backing, and Federico Paolini delivering some deft and clean guitar work in the bridge. Perhaps the track that many will pull from the album is Dollhouse (Labyrinth of Thoughts), whether or not it is the strongest. Yes, there is an incredible depth to the instrumental here, with every member adding another layer or flourish to the mix. It's victory is in the heaviness it uncovers throughout, from bridge to chorus to solo.

Rosellini proves to be a force, with a track like Reign of Kalidia going into her personal highlight reel. Her voice shines thanks in part, at least, to the strong rhythm section presence that is a constant here. It puts the spotlight on a harmony that takes the vocal track to a new level. Together with Basile, bassist Roberto Donati makes a huge leap on this record, giving adding strength to each and every track, from the low end gallop of Harbinger of Serenity which features a show stealing vocal assist from Opening Scenery and Etherna frontman  Andrea Racco, to the smoother and somehow mystical Black Magic. Whether it be the pulsing drum beats or Donati's strong plucking, it all provides a vibrant backdrop for the leads. The closest thing to a misstep is the down tempo ballad, Shadow Will Be Gone , but not for lack of quality. It simply doesn't live up to the standard set by the rest of the album on the whole. Your foot will tap, undoubtedly, but you'll wait patiently for the surge.

To say your patience is rewarded would be an understatement, as the title track adds a great deal of fuel to the fire very early. Lies' Device is a striking mix of rumbling bass lines, darting keyboard melodies matched by guitars every step of the way, and Rosellini at her sultry best. The mix holds up well here, another major victory in this sophomore effort. Your instrumental break, just beyond the halfway mark, is as good as any on the album. perhaps the sleeper pick of the album comes very close to its end, with Winged Lords occupying a rarefied space between ballad and anti-ballad. There is a hint of the former in the vocals of the chorus, something that makes you want to wave a lighter or cell phone back and forth. But the rest of the track, from instrumental to vocal, fills a separate need. After nine well rounded and thoroughly successful tracks, there is no room for error at the end. In Black and White fits the bill, restating everything about Kalidia that you've found yourself attracted to; strong female leads, delicately placed keyboards, a guitar player unbound, and a rhythm section to keep the peace.

It feels slightly wrong to say a band has improved so greatly between albums. You don't want to discredit what they've accomplished before, nor downplay the inherent talent they all possess on their own. But Kalidia is a band possessed now, whereas before, they were merely a band. They've improved their sound in every possible way, fine tuning and solidifying themselves individually and together. It isn't that Lies' Device is just better than Dance of The Four Winds; it sounds like a completely different caliber of effort. The giant leap forward they've taken in the span of two years is not only incredible, but bodes well for the next two years, and the two years after that. A decade from now, this will be seen as the turning point in what should be a long and successful career.

8.5/10

Bandcamp - http://kalidia.bandcamp.com/

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/KalidiaBand