The Italians love their high camp metal. With one of the daftest back stories of any band, Deathless Legacy‘s fourth full length record and their second album release in 12 months sees their gothic circus spread its rubbery wings over skeletons, summoning and, appropriately, Rituals Of Black Magic.

Tinkling piano and a backwards voice bring opener The Grimoire to life. Choral samples that sound like ‘Santa’ chant in the background. It’s a dramatic intro, and leads into the albums’ title track, where I was stunned to be confronted by the needlessly pronounced, am-dram vocals. A dash through the band’s back catalogue confirmed that this was normal so I shrugged my shoulders and ran with it.

It makes total sense for an Italian horror metal band to be over the top. They’d be ridiculous if they weren’t, but as I waded through the endless key changes and average lyricism I became increasingly irritated; this band refuses, to their own detriment, to sit still. There’s a line between musical adventurousness and jarring dischord of which Deathless Legacy are apparently unaware, and while the whole point of music is to be free and to do your own thing, songs like I Summon The Spirits and Bloodbath are like trying to force Lego and RoBlox together because they’re both building materials.

This is the most frustrating thing about Rituals Of Black Magic. This band can write a kicking tune with plenty of pomp and ingenuity – Hex is ace – but seem fully committed to scuttling ideas as they’re sorting themselves out. Homunculus is the most painful example, a song with plenty going for it that feels like everyone got to pick a key and no-one got told ‘no’.

There’s plenty of highlights, but they’re sections rather than songs. The chorus of Vigor Mortis sounds magnificently grand, the opening of Litch reminds me of Ch’Tonic and almost resists the urge to over-reach itself – even the aforementioned …Spirits has flashes of excellence, like a teenager in a French speaking exam. There’s also no shortage of ability on tap and the guitar/keyboard solos – some of which are absurdly rude (the good rude) – are sensibly brief, putting the emphasis back onto the music.

The biggest complaint by a mile is that despite pulling from multiple directions and clearly not taking itself too seriously, this album feels very long. Most of the 13 tracks push the 5 minute marker, and the extremely dramatic content contained within makes it feel like a musical soundtrack without enough creative control. By Read The Bones I felt like I’d been sitting through a mates’ play, which isn’t a compliment. Closer Dominus Inferi has a decent, solid feel to it, and in forcing their vocalist to sing – which I could gladly listen to – makes for an extravagant, almost majestic finish.

Man this was tough, but not because it’s a bad record. Replacing the spoken word parts with the powerful, emotive singing strewn across the album as a whole and you’ve got a slightly confused but very competently played gothic metal album. A lot of it reminded me of Evil Scarecrow, but that band are deliberately silly; Deathless Legacy are not tongue-in-cheek enough to be cabaret or self-aware enough to edge into fantasy metal, and while they’ve definitely got a really good record in them, this isn’t it.

Get your hands on Rituals Of Black Magic HERE!