Seeing a familiar name attached to a new project is often the best way to break the musical ice. Seeing Santo Clemenzi resurface after his work in Deimos, From The Depth and 5th Element was all we needed to find interest in Outerburst. Joined by former Deimos bandmate Massimo Goletti on drums, California's 'Viking guitarist' Erik Peabody, and German singer Michael Gildner, the line-up has the pedigree and experience to make something transcendent. Scattered over four tracks is a band trying to find their own distinct sound, trying to turn four parts into one whole. The debut EP, Phase A: Kaishi, is less about extending boundaries and more about establishing them. And while it's only the first taste of what is to come, it remains just enough to make Outerburst a band to follow over time.
The resulting EP is a return to the early days of power metal, a more traditional approach to modern melodies. Release The Brake, the opening track on the album, is as much a statement of intent as it is a lyrical theme. Driving bass lines, matched with the snap of a snare drum, are the foundation of the entire effort, a constant presence throughout that solidifies the mix at every turn. With the structure now secured, Nightmare, the first single to be released from the record, takes over. It stands as the prototype of what this band can be; über melodic, striking vocal and instrumental harmonies, and operating at a pace that only bolsters those relationships. It's selection as the first song to be released makes even more sense in the scope of the album.
While the lyrical quality might not match that intensity, often relying on cliches and catchphrases, it serves its general purpose. Their shortcomings are masked by Gildner's vocal performance which, while not redefining the genre, will always be a strong presence in the mix. Even in the weakest track, The Crows, there is plenty to hang your proverbial hat on. In particular, the guitar riffs may be the most memorable on the album, furnishing a healthy stomp on top of the already strong rhythm section. The one curious decision, the use of Reborn as the closing track, is easy enough to forgive. The EP's lone ballad, it creates a momentum issue if placed anywhere but the end. And while it features some special apppearances - Roberto Tiranti in a guest vocal spot, Raffaele "Raffo" Albanese contributing a guitar solo, and some deft piano and keyboard work from Paolo Fosso - it does little for the overall arch of the effort.
Phase A: Kaishi, for its part, is a great introductory look at a band and a line-up capable of becoming a fixture in the international metal scene. It's like reading dust jacket on a new book; you'll have a good idea of what's to come, even if you never crack open the first page. But for Outerburst, this summary effort will hopefully lead to a greater exploration of their talents. A full fledged, well rounded LP is the next step to finding a home in the bigger picture. And, if all plays out according to plan, by the end of their run, they'll have a novel's worth of records to their name. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. This is the start they needed to move forward. They've released the brake, and now the journey is ahead.