One listen to The Metamorfosi’s second album and you’ll be surprised that they are a trio. The eight songs on their English language debut, Chrysalis, are remarkably immense sonic works considering the band’s relatively modest numbers. There’s definitely a whiff of the epic surrounding the album’s songs, but it never descends into pomposity and melodrama. The Metamorfosi couple that quality with a keen sense for guitar-driven pop and rock theatrics. Significant swaths of the album are decidedly art-rock, but it always remains accessible thanks to solid songwriting fundamentals, strong melodies, and clear production.
The band’s primary singer, Sarah D’Arienzo, will command your immediate attention. Few singers, regardless of genre, possess such a pure, crystalline voice. One can toss around clichés like “angelic”, “ethereal”, and so on, but “Essence” opens the album with something much more than that. This is an excellent opener that lays out the album’s thesis, for lack of a better word, attempting to embody the band’s yearning for transformation in a sweeping, otherworldly track. The title track eschews the first song’s quasi-classical pretensions in favor of a singer/songwriter approach. The song’s melodies are much more succinct than on the first track and there’s an ambling, easy-going confidence here that the opening number lacks. “Gregor Samsa” is a brief instrumental interlude segueing into the strange rhythms of “Levity”. The song restlessly shifts from rolling percussion and acoustic sensibilities into moments of hard-hitting guitar rock and thunderous flourishes. “Keep the Pain” is a breezy pop vocal duet, but the tasteful guitar work creates unexpected textures thanks to its precision. “Packed Smiles” brings the band back into far more experimental territory and has an almost orchestreral sense thanks to its steady build. The Metamorfosi clearly grasp the deceptively simple lesson that building musical tension requires you pay off the listener’s patience in meaningful ways and “Packed Smiles” is, arguably, the album’s best example of that technique in action.
“Light” has pounding drums, a brisk pace, and a bright guitar sheen, but its D’Arienzo who makes the song truly indispensible. Her full-on vocals sounds like she’s singing into the face of an oncoming storm, but she imbues every line with attentive phrasing. The album’s closer “The Moon Is Kiddin’ Me” opens in a practically ambient swirl that soon shifts color and direction, but the track is Chrysalis’ boldest musical moment. The band stretches out for the first time and serves up a nearly eight minute exclamation point that never tests the listeners’ patience. Chrysalis will garner countless new fans for the band and added critical respect – this is appealing and challenging music that seeks to engage the listener at all times. The Metamorfosi have the potential to leave a worldwide mark with their unique confluence of musical influences and unquestionable talent. Chrysalis is the first step towards posterity.