Hidden Place

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DGM thankfully buck Italy's ever-worsening trend of churning out overzealous progressive metal acts, most of whose technical skills simply can't do their ambitious songwriting justice. Even better, their impressive command of their instruments doesn't make for unbearably complicated clinical workouts, ensuring that commercially savvy examples from their fourth album like "Save Me," "Heaven," and "Age of the Flame" can achieve a delicate balance between excess and restraint. Said album, 2003's Hidden Place, offers remarkably mature, if not exactly groundbreaking, progressive metal in the Symphony X and Dream Theater mold, and to the band's credit, so tightly and expertly woven is their performance that no one player can be said to dominate proceedings in a negative fashion. No, this is truly a team effort, featuring a sturdy rhythm section, thrilling guitar/keyboard soloing duels, and topping it all off, the very powerful and expressive voice of the oddly named Titta Tani. Particularly reminiscent of Mark Boals -- the concert-challenged but nevertheless formidable studio singer heard on Yngwie Malmsteen's hit Trilogy album -- his multi-tracked vocals command special attention on quasi-power ballads like "Invisible Rain" and "Alone." His contributions even include some death metal-style screaming toward the end of monstrous closer, "Winter Breeze," which, at eight minutes, would be the only candidate for bloated excess here were it not for some unbelievably intense soloing runs. Simply put, there's hardly a stinker in sight here, qualifying Hidden Place as one of Italy's best progressive metal albums of 2003.

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