Public Glory, Secret Agony
Man, call me an idiot, but I could've sworn that was a dude singing on White Skull's domestic debut, last year's Tales From the North. Granted, Grave Digger frontman Chris Boltendahl guested on a bulk of the album's tracks, his Gargamel-throated attempts at carrying a melody pretty much segueing into any other semi-valid attempt at clearing one's throat, so call me unawares if White Skull's real vocalist, the YY-chromosomed Frederica "Sister" De Boni, actually got a turn at the mic. Then again, such a statement might call more into question the flamboyant masculinity of Hammerfall and their peers than De Boni's supposed lack of "femininity."
Well, lo and behold, De Boni carries her troops of Italian pomp-weights unassisted on White Skull's fourth album, Public Glory, Secret Agony, proving (?) that power metal isn't necessarily a sausage party. Okay, take that back: Power metal is totally a sausage party, for Public Glory, Secret Agony is a concept album based on the ancient history of Rome (read: I don't care), a pedigree that, when set to a strapping n' galloping Euro-metal beat, is wholly incapable of crossing gender lines (i.e., no Fiona-esque soul-searching anywhere in sight). The thing is, the album is more rollicking than its predecessor, yet it's decidedly more polite, more salad fork before the dinner one, perhaps suffering from the lack of that utterly bombastic spark Boltendahl brought over from his Grave Diggin' duties. Still, there's a few advancements in employment here, most notably on select moments of the ragin'-for-order "Anubis The Jackal," where the quintet intermittently dips down to a mid-tempo throb Queensrÿche could've capped off with half the brain cells in the mid- to late-'80s. Any way you cut it, though, Public Glory, Secret Agony is hardly the feast it promises, White Skull showing up late or even not at all, in either case being equally bland both as cooks and as hosts. Time to redefine "sausage party," I guess.
Nuclear Blast America, P.O. Box 1074, Canal Street Station, New York, NY 10003; http://www.nuclearblast-usa.com
Nathan T. Birk