Italy is famous for its 3 P’s – the leaning tower of Pisa (actually a structural defect), pizza (actually invented in the US) and Pirlo (actually god). The metal/rock scene in Italy is not as famous as its Scandinavian counterparts but The Shell collector recently released their first LP titled Medusa on 26 May through their own label TUNA Records to try and change that.
To be fair to The Shell Collectors, their music is not metal but can be classified as a mix of post vintage, intelligent dance music, avant garde and progressive with transient ambient elements. The band was started by vocalist and guitarist Enrico Tiberi in 2012 and he has written the bulk of the music. As soon as you play the LP, you realize that their music is different. The first song is The Mean and it is one of the best songs on the album. It is a midtempo song which showcases The Shell Collectors’ skills and is an excellent way to start the album with its mix of odd time signatures, ambient parts, tempo changes and a crazy outro which ends in an unexpected yet thoroughly cool manner.
The second song, Amber, showcases a different side of The Shell Collectors as they slow it down (mostly) and add more electronic elements. The song is good although it feels a bit disjointed. The song contains one of my favourite moments of the album as guitarist Alessandro Infusini comes in with a brilliant bluesy solo about 3 mins 24 seconds into the song.
Vocalist Enrico Tiberi sounds a bit like Patrick Stump (Fall Out Boy, don’t ask how I know that) and his vocals suit the sound of the band. His vocal range is good although the vocal melodies sound a bit similar during the choruses. The lyrics are well writtten but there seems to be no central theme to them in the album. The bass parts, when they can be heard, are well written although I would have liked them to be slightly louder in the mix and more prominent, like in the Common Superstar system where bassist Manuel Coccia plays a melodious bass solo. The guitars, on the other hand, steal the show. The 2 guitarists work well together and both the rhythms and solos are interesting. The solos are very interesting and the album could have benefited by having more of them. The guitar parts stand out, especially in the heavier sections of the songs and are not overshadowed during the electronic parts. The melodies and riffs are well written and the guitars are mixed just perfectly so that they can be heard clearly and distinctly.
To show how diverse they are, the band has varied songs on the album from the uptempo prog of the album opener to the acoustic Silent Winds That Blow and the post vintage rock of Mirror Me and A Sailor. That they are influenced by Porcupine tree and Pink Floyd can be clearly heard in The Filter, a melancholy song containing psychedelic and electronic elements, and Le Ombre. This diversity is both a positive and negative for them as even though it showcases their range and ability, the songs feel isolated without any link between them. The drums are well done although, like the bass, the album could have benefited by highlighting them more. The Shell Collectors make good use of electronic elements in the percussive department. The heavier parts are enjoyable to listen to, are used effectively and were the best parts of the album to listen to for me.
One of the shortcomings of the album is the production and mixing. The vocals are mixed louder than required and the overdubs detract from the music due to their loudness. Also, some of the tempo changes and transitions are a bit awkward and could have been executed better.I enjoyed the rock portion of the album more then the electronic one and was left wanting for more of it, although this could be due to the fact that I do not listen to a lot of modern electronica.
All in all, this is an admirable first effort from The Shell Collectors and is a very well written album. Their intentions are right and with time they will be able to correct the few flaws that are present in the album. They have a fresh sound and different perspective of music and fuse vintage rock and modern electronica seamlessly to create a very good album.They have made me a fan with their unique sound and I will definitely be waiting in anticipation for the release of their next album.