The magnificent vocal performance of Italy’s Alessandro Conti in Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody has brought much more attention to the singer’s other project: Trick or Treat. This band predates the new version of Rhapsody that Conti sings in, but has been largely silent (from a studio perspective) since he joined that band. Fortunately, however, Trick or Treat has returned in 2016 with a new studio album: “Rabbits’ Hill Pt. 2”. This release is an excellent, diverse offering of power metal that differs significantly from Conti’s other band. If the band’s name didn’t give it away, Helloween appears to be a primary influence on this record, particularly on songs like “Inle’ (The Black Rabbit of Death)” and “The Showdown”, where Conti’s voice takes after some of the classic vocal lines that Kiske unleashed in the 1980s. The band’s guitarists similarly offer up shredding licks and leads that rival the Weikath/Hansen combo at its best.
Despite that, however, there is much more to “Rabbits’ Hill Pt. 2” than just Helloween worship. One of the strangest tracks, “Together Again”, comes early on in the record. It isn’t quite an interlude, but it is a short, acoustic song. The track never truly gets heavy, and it does seem a tad strange to be the second song on the album due to how inanely happy it is, but somehow it works. Following this, there are plenty of prototypical power metal tracks (“Cloudrider”, “Efrafa”, and “The Great Escape”, which is a major speedster), each of which have their own unique identifying marks on them. The key reason why these songs are so effective is because of how compelling the vocal lines are. It doesn’t matter if Conti sings his heart out when the melodies are unmemorable (as was often a problem on the latest Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody record), but these songs are immensely catchy. “Cloudrider” in particular is a major highlight for power metal in 2016.
Before hearing this album for the first time, one of the primary selling points was the fact that there were 3 guest stars on the record. Unsurprisingly, the best of these 3 is Tony Kakko’s song, “United”. Put simply, this man is a vocal master, and he puts on a clinic on this track. His voice melds perfectly with Conti’s, and this makes you long for the days when Sonata Arctica was a more pure power metal band. The other two guest spots were disappointing. After listening to immense amounts of Primal Fear, I can’t help but feel that Ripper Owens is a poor man’s Ralf Scheepers. He has the same Rob Halford “scream your lungs out” sound, but he lacks the control and even the power of Scheepers. For that reason, “They Must Die” would be much improved with Conti doing all of the vocals. “Never Say Goodbye”, featuring Sara Squadrani, is essentially a pop song. Her performance is definitely better than Ripper’s, but again, Conti is so good that it would be better to either bring in someone that could rival him (like Kakko), or let him handle everything. With an hour-long album, this record would have been superior with these two tracks removed, or at least replaced by more typical Trick or Treat songs.
Though this record does have a lengthy run time, it is a surprisingly quick hour. Whether it is the harsh vocals that invade the opening song, or the short, quirky instrumental “Beware The Train”, there is always something interesting happening on this record. Even the more traditional power metal songs have melodies that are distinctive. While there are a couple of flaws on this record, it stands out as being different in the power metal scene, and that is definitely a good thing. On the whole, “Rabbits’ Hill Pt. 2” is an impressive offering of power metal, and one that makes excellent use of the band’s talents, particularly Conti’s!
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4.3/5 or 86%.
Written by Scott