Artist: Fallen Sanctuary
Album Title: Terranova
Label: AFM Records
Date of Release: 24 June 2022
On paper, this album should be a home run. I’m a massive fan of Austrian melodic metal band Serenity, in particular the vocal stylings of Georg Neuhauser which are always out of the top drawer. I also found ‘Viridian’, the 2020-released fifth full-length from Temperance to be a strong record within broadly the same genre. Therefore, putting Neuhauser and Temperance guitarist Marco Pastorino together should be a great idea.
As we all know though, these kind of bands or projects don’t always succeed and I’m afraid that I can only conclude that this is also the case here with Fallen Sanctuary’s debut release, ‘Terranova’. I had high hopes for it, but despite giving it a more than fair crack of the whip, I am very disappointed by it. I hate coming to conclusions like this; it pains me to write reviews that are less than positive. But you’re entitled to read honest reviews, so here we are.
I fully expect that there will be a large number of metalheads that will fundamentally disagree with my opinion here, so I expect ‘Terranova’, which features bassist Gabriele Gozzi, and drummer Alfonso Mocerino, will achieve a certain amount of success regardless. But if you’re on the fence, or just mildly interested in this record, hopefully this will be a helpful exercise for you.
‘Terranova’ contains just about everything you want and expect from a European melodic metal record; it is packed full of saccharine-drenched ear candy, and there’s nothing wrong with big choruses, sing-along lyrics, and hooks aplenty. There’s even a place for a few large slices of cheese too. But, here’s the problem for me: I have listened to the eleven tracks on ‘Terranova’ several times through, and nothing really sticks in my mind. I even took it out on my bicycle ride this evening and listened to it twice through. Just me, the road, my bike, and the music. But it was the same story. A couple of the songs hinted at good things and something to remember, but overall, I found the experience depressingly bland. The music is undeniably melodic, there are choruses aplenty, solos litter the album, the pace is often quick and energetic, and Neuhauser is as proficient a you’d expect with mic in hand. There’s even a foray into melodic hard rock and even acoustic territory. But…
…as far as I’m concerned, the melodies are not catchy enough, the hooks aren’t strong enough, and the whole thing feels a little run-of-the-mill. It’s perfectly decent as far as it goes, but that’s not what I want. I want to be fully entertained, my attention grabbed and not allowed to wander. But wander my mind does, and it’s so frustrating. I’d never suggest that artists of the calibre of Pastorino or Neuhauser are going through the motions here, but that’s how it feels because the album lacks the ‘wow’ factor.
Tracks like the acoustic-led ‘I Can’t Say’ show some semblance of an X-Factor, but it’s all down to the performance of Neuhauser as far as I can tell, rather than a top band performance altogether. The lead solo within ‘Trail Of Destruction’ is also noteworthy within a song that’s perhaps a little more interesting than others but beyond that, I’m struggling.
I mentioned the cheese quota earlier, and the prime example it the opening title track. The press release talks of Fallen Sanctuary’s debut being ‘socio-critical’ and that’s a great thing if done properly, and definitely a change of pace from Neuhauser’s normal historical lyrical content. Admittedly, the song sets a blistering pace with fast riffing and intense drumming, but the closing stages are ruined by a spoken word section about drug abuse. ‘Who is there to help them? Are You?’ It doesn’t sound too bad when written like this, but when it appears in the song, it’s just a little more toe-curling than I’m prepared to accept.
For once, I’m going to shut up and end the review here, rather than ramble on for another 300 words just for the sake of it. I’m fully prepared to lose a few readers as a result of this review, but it’s my honest opinion. ‘Terranova’, the debut album from Fallen Sanctuary was a good idea on paper, but the reality has delivered one of the biggest disappointments for me in 2022 so far. One for devotees of European melodic power metal only.
The Score of Much Metal: 56%
Check out my other 2022 reviews here:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: