Having formed in 1988, White Skull could easily be viewed as stalwarts of the Italian power metal scene. “Will Of The Strong” is their tenth release and finds the band still blasting away with vocalist Federica Sister Boni leading from the front with her husky, call to arms sermons.

From the outset, this is stock standard power metal by the book. “Endless Rage” would be suitable as the soundtrack to a super hero film and comes across as a little cheesy. With capes fluttering in the breeze, and a steely gaze toward the sky, they launch into “Holy Warrior” and the inevitable clattering, blast beat smash around the chops which really is the dominating factor. Federica Sister Boni’s vocals are strong, seasoned and there’s no denying the emotiveness of her delivery which is very much in the spirit of Doro and Huntress’ Jill Janus. A few songs in though, there’s a sneaking suspicion that there won’t be any deviances from this path with each track sounding like a well used battle cry. Fans of fretboard pyrotechnics will delight in the skills of lead guitarist Danilo Bar which are attention grabbing and impressive at times.

Moments of symphonic progression do creep in and there’s a certain Iron Maiden “Powerslave” era feel on “I Am Your Queen”. Each track has a very fists-in-the-air anthemic quality and there’s a strong story telling theme that comes through on the likes of “Metal Indian” even with its clichéd tribal beat. Sadly, these ears are aching for some variation or a twist on the genre which only comes in the semi acoustic power ballad “Sacrifice”. The album overstays its’ welcome by a few tracks that perhaps removes some of the power of the better songs.

Fans of White Skull will probably delight as will purveyors of all things power metal. A band that has lasted the course this long deserves full praise but it’s disappointing to have such an air of formulaic predictability. The production values are solid with the vocals and lead guitar work enough to recommend a listen but only the diehards will likely find any real inspiration.

(5/10 Johnny Zed)