The new EP from Italian progressive metallers Virtual Symmetry, X-Gate is quite simply a theatre of sound, craft, and creative storytelling which keeps ears and imagination greedily engaged from start to finish. Simplicity though is not a feature of the release with every song a kaleidoscope of flavours and styles, each encounter a lure into surreal realms and adventures woven with individual and united craft which alone grabs attention.
Founded by guitarist/ multi-instrumentalist Valerio Æsir Villa, Lugano hailing Virtual Symmetry potently build on the creative landscape and progression of their well-received debut album Message from Eternity of 2016 with X-Gate, creating a web of enterprise and imagination which ensures fascination is an equally lively reaction. There are moments when things settle into a calm temptation, a low key seduction and other times when the EP ignites a real zeal for its dramatic body of sound and invention but always attention is firmly hooked.
X-Gate opens up its exploration of man and its evolutionary possibility, which starts with its artwork, with Eyes of Salvation. Instantly guitars coax the listener with a fiery glaze to their lures before a portentous calm is accompanied by poetic strains of piano from Mark Bravi. Swiftly his additional keys flame up as the rest of the band unites their essences in a rising tide of sound and suggestion. Vocalist Marco Pastorino walks alongside the piano in another mellow passage, his potent voice matched by others within the outfit, before that fire erupts once again with the rhythmic rapacity of bassist Alessandro Poppale and drummer Davide Perpignano driving things. From its first breath, the track is a web of enterprise and thought, a myriad of textures and layers explored better over subsequent listens though its infection loaded chorus is a swift recruitment of ears and involvement. Across its seven plus minutes, the song continues to tease and tempt whilst weaving a fluid collage of styles and theatrical imagination.
It is a great start which has ears and appetite hooked for that to follow starting with the epic flight of Alchymera. For almost a quarter of an hour, the song is a magnet for the senses and thoughts; its celestial and emotional journey especially blessed with keys carrying a definite Bill Nelson vibe whilst the guitars give Steve Vai like scents to their endeavour. An eighties new wave/synth pop essence also simmers within the track, seductively caressing its more irritable traits while Villa alone brings an emotional drama and moodiness to the track which is absorbed and emulated in the atmospheric climate spreading across the mercurially alluring and skilfully woven landscape.
Elevate completes the release, the track notable alone for the union of Pastorino with the radiant voice of Diane Lee from Swiss melodic progressive metallers Lost Journey. The pair is surrounded by a serenade of sound with volatility in its nature as potent as the emotional drama and invention loaded imagination baring their qualities. The song almost swarms the senses with its charms and fiery heart, breaking into more tempestuous moments throughout to only increase its pull.
It is fair to say that though its strong first showing, X-Gate simply escalates in depth and persuasion over time. Virtual Symmetry is a richly intriguing and tempting proposition from the outskirts of the progressive metal landscape but a prospect increasingly coming to the fore with each offering they make and though the EP might not end up on the year’s best lists come the New Year, but could for many, as one of the most enjoyably fascinating propositions X-Gate is right up there.
The X-Gate EP is out now.
Pete RingMaster 25/07/2017
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