SiroccoI don’t know why but I expected much more from this bands third full length which is based on the concept of the Viking invasion of Ireland. Claiming to fuse Celtic influences with metal is nothing new whatsoever and in fact I expected more from the fusion than is actually delivered. Usually albums of this sort resort to epic songs with rousing lyrics and equally rousing choruses for fans to sing along to. Instead Sirocco’s music is really rather despondent and sad on delivery not made any happier by the vocal display.

Opening the album is the first part of the title track which gently flows into the second part with a pure metal riff and at first I thought it sounded like Running Wild due to the melody and riffing backdrop. However this is short lived as the song quickly transforms to a straight heavy metal song that sits somewhere between NWOBHM and hard rock. The vocals by Ciaran are rich and quite sorrowful at times as his bass work runs a tight ribbon through the whole album with deft bass lines popping up everywhere. The vocals are cleanly delivered on this album and have a straight rock feel than a metal style, and in some places remind of a less harsh Hetfield when he sang on tunes like “Fade To Black” or “Memory Remains”

I wouldn’t say that this album has that many flaws apart from hearing a lot of it before and expecting something more upbeat though it’s not a doom album by any means. The Celtic fusion aspects are heard on “Maelsuthain” and the bass runs are highly like Lizzy in places which can only be a good thing. The harmony guitar duels are obviously Maidenequse and work nicely when implanted near the end of songs for a finale as on “Maglia”. Some of the more subtle guitar work is very like Seasons Of The Wolf from the USA with carefully executed melodies being used to accentuate each song. “Towers” has a stereotypical heavy metal riff that was used to death in the 80s. That is no problem to me but I wanted the pace to take a step up and gallop a bit instead of canter around in self absorbed melancholy. I think I’m finding fault for the sake of it as I really enjoyed this album as a straight rock and metal release that mixes Celtic touches with a metal template very successfully. Each tune is very catchy in its own right and for that I am extremely glad to have heard it. After about a dozen listens or so I suspect I will love this album so my rating reflects the fact that this is definitely a grower.

(8/10 Martin Harris)