March 21, 2023

What is it about so many Italian bands? – they seem to share a sense of the Operatic, to effortlessly lure you into a soundscape that entrances with a natural sense of atmosphere regardless of the actual instrumentation. Walk In Darkness have that knack, in common with A Day In Venice, Witchwood and all sorts of very different others!

The mysterious gothic metallers (WID for short) are finally here with their highly anticipated fourth album, a concept album called Leaves Rolling in Time. The album features Nicoletta Rosellini (also in Kalidia) on vocals and the artwork was created by Carlos Fides (Evergrey, Almah). Walk in Darkness constantly evolve, as a band they were originally more in the “classic” goth-metal camp, but they’ve diverged, moved on to more original and unpredictable paths, exploring a different take on the marriage between emotional and psychedelic aspects of rock….and it certainly works!

The concept and setting for the album is that of humanity’s demise. A post-apocalyptic scenario where nearly everything about our world has been lost, save for the distant sounds of voices that hold the key to our awakening – a role that is played by the band itself. It’s a melancholic but creatively interesting tack, and one that is sadly pertinent to our times….

Walk in Darkness line-up:
Nicoletta Rosellini – vocals
Shaman – Leader, Guitars
Monkey Key – Bass
Arcanus – drums

WID’s songs have complex, surreal atmospheres and they drag the listener into another dimension, with an almost psychedelic take on a journey through time, a dreamlike quality undiminished by some fairly beefy metalwork at times!

The magic of WID is enhanced by the talent of the front woman and vocalist, Nicoletta Rosellini (see, she even sounds like she was born to Opera!). Her wide range of vocal tones makes her a central element of the complex arrangements and articulated compositions that WID love to explore. She swerves from warm and evocative through to darker tones, switching naturally between full-on metal and almost folky, gentle, pastoral moods. Nicoletta is new to me but comes across as a naturally true talent, shades of Evanescence’s Amy Lee and Dutch band Lesoir’s two singers – Maartje Meessen and Eleen Bartholomeus The band as a whole do definitely play up to a sense of the Dramatic – they all like to come across as mysterious, maintaining their anonymity and sporting hooded cloaks as part of their almost dark Gregorian vibe!.

Band founder and mastermind Shaman explains the concept for the new album No one knows what’s going on anymore and people walk like in peacetime, limiting ourselves to climbing the rubble but it is a journey without return. It is the inexorable loss of this civilization. Victims, executioners and small everyday heroes populate a landscape of livid ruins, from which emerge noble voices of hope that resound with melancholy, knowledge, beauty and poetry, they all Walk In Darkness.” So there you have it!

The album kicks off with Ships to Atlantis which, it has to be said, hits you as being just a teeny-weensy overblown to start with! It launches into a huge “Phantom of the Opera” style choral piece, complete with mystery guest female opera singer! This flows through to some beefily distorted guitar work, the two contrasting styles somehow encapsulating the distinctiveness of this album – it’s dramatic and melancholic, highly melodic, with a great sense of pace.

Up next is the title track Leaves Rolling in Time. This follows the same opulent ambient vibe, gently alluring, the wonderful mix and production create an absorbing hypnotic mood which seamlessly migrates into some heavy doom metal. Guest male vocalist Emiliano Pasquinelli adds his growls to complete the mood, it’s seriously good stuff!

Bent by Storms and Dreams features some great tinkly piano work, catchily sparse percussion, a big chorus. It’s again quite dark in mood but never depressing, a mature and clever composition.

Get Away is almost poppy in comparison, a sort of growly but radio-friendly track! Again, there’s that sense of operatic high drama, gorgeous vocals, some sweet guitar work, both picking and later lead solo, and a big climax, it feels like a natural contender for their next music video. Walk Close to Me continues in the same vein, it again showcases the lead singer’s wonderful vocals together with swooping melodies from the gang and that subtly distinctive band sound.

No Oxygen in the West is a bit of a mini-epic, certainly in terms of the storyline, set to a driving rhythm and attendant chordwork, still with some nice percussive touches – credit to the production team here. The Last Glow of the Day is perhaps my favourite track, a glorious bend of crisp percussion, heavyweight riffwork, soaring mult-layered vocals, all underpinning such strong melodies. This is hypontising!

And then we have the (“proper”) closing track Elizabeth. What a great piece of goth-metal, it’s beautifully composed, building from gently pastoral beginnings, fluid vocals as ever, and the chords inexorably revving up the meatiness. There’s some lovely, laid-back lead guitar here, and as always that voice shimmering above it all! Wonderful!

The album does actually finish with a reprise of No Oxygen in the West, interestingly this time with Shaman taking the helm on lead vocals.

All in all, a strangely endearing album – it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why but it spun its web and had me hooked! The combination of hypnotic metal-based arrangements, always with that voice.. it makes for deeply cinematic music videos, which seem to have had the same effect on folk, they’ve been seen more than 12 million times on YouTube!