Sailing to Nowhere is yet another number in the never-lauded abyss of Italian power metal bands. There is a smidge of potential brewing within "To the Unknown," however, that would have otherwise been lost in the quagmire of mediocrity that is sadly a familiar Italian woe. The ship sailing on endless stormy seas gracing the cover represents perfectly what Sailing to Nowhere accomplishes. The style of melodic power metal with two vocalists and a hazy, forlorn atmosphere is more than a gimmick, and there are obvious signs of brilliance flashing in the mist. The overall impression of the record, though, feels like a shortfall. Visualize a completed puzzle despite ten percent of its pieces missing-the final product may be realized, but the fact remains a portion of the whole picture is absent.
One has to admire what Sailing to Nowhere attempts. They take the melodic power metal themes of Stratovarius, Kamelot, and Sonata Arctica and create this peculiar semblance of feeling despondent with notable rock hooks throughout. That's as deep as the style goes, because the group doesn't capitalize on intensifying things barring the occasional excellent solo or above-average chorus. The vocalist situation is also something unique-both a male and a female lead handle microphone duty-but again, there isn't much to exploit the unearthed potential of having this two-pronged approach. It's disappointing, because the duo sounds fine independently, but stellar when they collide. Sailing to Nowhere can't reach higher despite having the arms, and "To the Unknown" in the end feels not wholly conceptualized.
Nothing shakes the collective underperformance that is everywhere. The production, for instance, isn't terrible, but it sounds typical for another record rushed out of an overpopulated niche (see: Italy's power metal scene). The guitar tone is underdone, the snare sounds flat, and the trading vocalists come off as wooly when both meet on the same notes. Bridges that give the impression that the well-timed escalation of the music will lead to an erupting chorus or smoothly change the pace often drop off in anticlimactic fashion when the group just has to do something, anything to take advantage. The situations Sailing to Nowhere reaches because of its semi-unique style are left out to sea, and the failure to capitalize on themes that are begging to be fleshed out hits harder than any blow "To the Unknown" could have dealt.
The benefit of letting this one slide with a recommendation is thrown out the window as Sailing to Nowhere makes the pants-on-head stupid decision to end the record with an awful cover of a pop song, Anastacia's "Left Outside Alone." The reason for making such a boneheaded decision is an example of what I call the Children of Bodom Equation: Cover a song that is destined to suck because no one wants to hear it, and then deride the criticism by pretending to be 'self-aware' when it completely backfires. It is, amazingly, the only song here that bites the big one, though others come close for unrelated reasons. "To the Unknown" is a flawed record, but has glimmers of potential shining through the stormy skies like a lighthouse's beam on an unseen island. Addressing the issues firsthand may find Sailing to Nowhere reaching somewhere.