The Shadow Mirror

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Italy's Adamanter clearly aspires to meld melodic progressive metal à la Dream Theater with Teutonic power metal from the Helloween school. One says "aspire" because, frankly, they have a long developmental road ahead of them judging from their terribly disappointing debut effort, 2003's The Shadow Mirror. Simply put, Adamanter's deficient songwriting and elementary arranging skills come nowhere near fulfilling the lofty scope of the group's musical ambitions, resulting in a positively cringe-worthy collection of almost-songs saddled with grossly self-important names like "A Leaf in the Whirl," "Dancing Through the Clouds," and -- possibly most offensive of all -- the 12-minute, five-part non-epic "Minstrel of Pain." Even worse, the awful production values on display here make a chaotic mess of Adamanter's only saving grace: the bandmembers' evidently high-caliber technical command of their instruments. Keep rehearsing and better luck next time boys.

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