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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pipedream - Only Dreaming

Holy Crap! Is it something new? Combining the sounds of Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Pearl Jam, Black Sabbath, and Hawkwind rolled up into one, this powerhouse quintet bring the sounds of Psychedelic, Space, and Alternative Rock rolled up into one and make it touch of the three genres to give it a giant group hug to show how much they really love the music.

The band was called Pipedream and their debut album, Only Dreaming, which was done in about six days and the songs were recorded as demo sessions between 1992 and 1993, is a laid-back, exhilarating, mind-boggling debut they’ve unleashed. They had been around since 1991 before they called it a day in 1994. 

It's a shame that the quartet weren't going anywhere, but this album of the sessions, shows they were ahead of their time. The band consisted of Rob Ryan on Bass, Martyn Wimbury on Drums, Ade Emsley (1992) and David Yates (1993) on Guitar, and David Leverno on Lead Vocals. While there are 11 tracks on here, the shifts, keeps the flow going to keep you ready for six centerpieces.

Big Tall Man ushers heavy doom metallic guitar riffs, calming drum beats as Yates does his homage to Tony Iommi’s driven lines to have the Sabbath sound while Rob comes up with some cool bass work while Leverno shouts and mellows on the vocals on the doom-waltz groove that is out of this world. Opener, My Last Day is a blistering Space Rock adventure that starts the album off with a bang into the outer limits.

Begins with this Eloy-like guitar lines that Ade does as an homage to Frank Bornemann before the full-driven rocking out explosion kicks into full gear as David goes through his Jim Morrison and Eddie Vedder voice to get you ready for the journey as the guitar players help him out. You can imagine a shrieking nightmarish ‘70s punch that is completely unexpected to make you jump.

The heavy acid rock comes in handy that is a knockout on Feel. It’s a trip visiting the late ‘60s but with a heavy metallic twist as Ade goes into a thrilling yet haunting riffs on his guitar to give it a sinister feel before he goes into this wonderful homage to May Blitz’s For Madmen Only at the very end to make it a thrashing and speeding sound to close the track up with a big bang!

The heavy jazz-funk rock wah-wah roar, gives Pipedream a chance to lay back and get into a mellowing groove on Concept.  Rob comes up with this cool bass line and the Hendrix-like style guitar sounds is a tribute to the master as David sings and speaks at the same time about how life is messed up as Yates, Martyn and Rob help him out to get the funky vibes that is beautiful while David helps them get the vibes flowing for the three of them.

Crazy Way’s blues and at times gothic punky vibe are Rob and Martyn’s time to shine as Rob begins this Devo-sque bass line while Martyn chills on the drums and more of the guitars heavy rocking workout exercise done by Ade while Flow Free goes into the Prog structures to close the album off. It starts off with an acoustic guitar flowing up into the clouds as it adds a cosmic voyage back into the heavier moments that makes it the perfect trip to head back home to earth thanks to Ade's guitar lines to knock it out of the ball park.

Only Dreaming is almost a lost and hidden treasure and feels as if it was recorded back in the late '70s/early '80s and recorded by an obscure band that were a hit-and-miss, but Pipedream could have been the real thing in England. This is a must listen to album and it will give the band the recognition they really deserve.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

La Coscienza Di Zeno - La Coscienza Di Zeno

Since then, one of the groups I’ve championed is a group called La Coscienza Di Zeno, who have brought the RPI (Rock Progressivo Italiano) scene back with a vengeance after hearing their second album, Sensitivita released this year from the Fading Records label which is a part of the AltrOck family and it’s a mesmerizing yet astonishing listenable album from start to finish. However, their first sole self-titled debut album released in 2011 from their previous label, Mellow Records, is one of the most hypnotic and electrifying albums they released to give the Prog sound the full and mighty force like no other.

And they have a lot of power and energy in their music and it shows a lot of true passion and a lot tension in their debut release. There are touches of Yes, Le Orme, ELP, PFM, Genesis, Banco, and Murple combined in their music. The seven compositions including a 13-minute track, shows a lot of the orchestral, dark, haunting, and sinister touches in their music.

At times, you can feel some uplifting tempos and pastoral movements that just come out of nowhere that gives a journey on a world into the unknown that is unexpected. There are times where you are at the sessions for these six guys who are about to unleash something that is going to take the listener and the audience by surprise from the moment they get their hands on this mind-boggling album.  A good idea comes for another to show where they would go next, whether it’s fast, slow, driven, and at times difficult time changes that comes around, it’s almost as if they were paying tribute to Fabio Frizzi and his scores for his work with the late great Lucio Fulci.

They go through the voyages of Prog, Funk, Classical, and Jazz Fusion to get you into the groove and at times its catchy thanks to the organ, piano, guitar, accordion, and bass.  As I’ve mentioned, Davide Serpico has the mind and spirit of Steve Hackett and Robert Fripp rolled into one and Andrea Lotti along with Stefano Agnini are almost dueling one another to see who can come up with the most powerful keyboard and piano fingering they would come up with.

And of course Alessio Calandriello’s vocals are spiritual and touching as he can go through various moments in his vocals as if he could have been a member in Locanda Delle Fate. And he can sing very well. Their debut album is for me, is a traveling fantasy experience that will make you understand how they are going to hit the Prog Festivals one day in the States and they have received word-of-mouth and hopefully a following they are going for to give the Italian Prog scene a jolt.

This is my third time listening to La Coscienza Di Zeno’s debut and they have not disappointed me and it’s a highly recommended album for the Progressive Rock and Italian Prog fans to sink their teeth into. They can take you to different places and the music is dramatic and thunderous. They are already a huge favorite of mine and they are already in my book of the most amazing new Progressive Rock bands to come out of the 21st century. 

And in the words of Uncle Ben who gave his last words to Peter Parker before becoming Spider-Man, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

Monday, July 22, 2013

Subject To Thoughts - The Culmination

Combinations of Anekdoten, Rush, Pink Floyd, Katatonia and Tangerine Dream floating in around the musical duo, Subject to Thoughts are one of those bands that take the essence of Prog Metal and Atmospheric music combined into one and making it an adventurous voyage into unbelievable worlds you haven’t seen before. The band considers Brandon Strader and Mark Mendleta and they have been around for fourteen years and they wanted to create a sound and provoking compositions into the voyages of time.

And they have done with their concept album, The Culmination. Released in 2010, the story behind the concept piece is about finding closure in life and there’s a lot of melodic, calmness, and well-structured on the arranging and composition they have brought on here. Although it has 11 tracks on the album, it works almost like a film score to either a drama, horror or a science-fiction movie in which it goes through various motions in heavy, ambient, alternative, lukewarm beauty, and frightening touches to go through each of the pieces that both Strader and Mendleta take the listener inside the mind and in the person’s heart.

Mark plays the instruments while Brian sings and plays both rhythm and lead guitar. What Mark does on the drums and keyboards, he takes it a level of hypnotic surroundings of multidimensional locations that is beyond the beyond. And then on the drums, it’s very laid-back and relaxed and he isn’t going wild and crazy, but laying down the patterns step by step as if he’s Nick Mason during the Dark Side of the Moon sessions.

Brian’s vocals are gentle, soft, and strong and can come at you to give goosebumps wherever he goes into a different door, he will go into that world and sing his heart out. And his guitar playing at times is a resemblance of Robert Fripp, Tool’s Adam Jones, and Brian May rolled up into one. His virtuosity is completely mesmerizing as he along with Mark, go into the deeper realms on the various measures that is hair-raising and chilling.

Both the ideas and visuals of film come in handy as I’ve mentioned before showing a futuristic world gone horribly wrong as it evokes Ridley Scott’s 1982 cult classic, Blade Runner at times as if to answer the question if Deckard is really a replicant or not. The Culmination is a mysterious yet breathtaking and a mind-blowing album they have brought to the table. With a beautiful cover showing the sun going down in the forest it is a journey that is both strange and striking. And both Mark and Brandon will always expect the unexpected like no other. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

La Coscienza Di Zeno - Sensitivita

For a band that captures the essence of RPI (Rock Progresivo Italiano) and English Prog, the sound of La Coscienza Di Zeno (which is named after the book by Italo Svevo) is right up in your alley. Formed in 2007 in their hometown in Genoa, the band has been around for six years and they have shown a lot of encouragement and are receiving word-of-mouth in the Prog community. Following in the footsteps of; Genesis, PFM, Le Orme, King Crimson, and early Yes rolled up in their sleeves, their next album which is a follow up to their sole self-titled debut album is soon going to be one of the most astonishing and exhilarating albums to come out this year in 2013.

Sensitivita, released under the Fading Records label which is a part of AltrOck, is a breathtaking experience from start to finish and they have come full circle with this album. And since this is my introduction to the band’s music, I’m soon going to become a huge fan of their music in the Italian Prog resurrection and giving it a huge jolt like no other. Opener, La Citta Di Dite begins with a piano concerto done by Luca Scherani who does this Rick Wakeman-like style for an introduction before the band goes into high gear.

The instruments go through a swirling excitement before singer Alessio Calandriello comes in with his vocal arrangements and Davide Serpico’s mind-boggling guitar work representing the sounds of David Gilmour and Robert Fripp. Then, everything relaxes so that the band could go into a classical mode that is gentle and soft as they pay homage to PFM’s Storia Di Un Minuto-era and everything fits at the right time at the right place.

The 12-minute title track gets even better.  Starting with a Synth-like Brass with a haunting call-like sound then the piano and Alessio’s voice comes in and it goes through classical and symphonic structures with variations of a ballad-waltz movement as it goes into The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway-era as if it was 1974 all over again that is hypnotic and adventurous thanks to Stefano Agnini’s whirling keyboard work in the realm of Tony Banks before it becomes a dramatic finale that is a thunderstorm for the last three minutes.

Tenue, is a lukewarm track that goes through a jazzy sinister dystopian paradise while Chiusa 1915 feels as if it was a sequel to Genesis’ Firth of Fifth as it pays homage to the Selling England by the Pound-era. You could tell that Davide is doing his Hackett-sque resemblance on the guitar and captures the spirit of the Peter Gabriel-era during their heyday and they pay tribute to the original five piece and show how much they were influenced by them.

The dooming yet soothing and moving experience on Tensegrita is both Luca Scherani and Stefano Agnini’s chance to shine as they both go into town with the keyboards and piano creating both some heartfelt, experimental, and established magnificent sounds to make it a stirring emotional composition. Pauvre Misere lets Davide goes through the movements through his guitar to make it virtuosity and make it adventurous to go through various and soaring time changes.

The closing 10-minute epic, La Temperanza, has this wonderful vibe and dynamic structures that is an electrifying way to close the album off. At times, it’s dramatic, atmospheric, metallic, Zappa homage, Jazzy, Folky, and again to the heart of Orchestral Rock that is completely a spiritual vibe and almost as if they could have done the score for Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast. Along with the second track, this is soon going to become a live favorite for La Coscienza Di Zeno to challenge and take heart with their music to go inside.

I have listened to Sensitivita 18 times already. And I’m completely hooked. This is a well-made and well-recorded album they have done to give it a wonderful structured beauty. With a lot of time signatures and difficult movements, La Coscienza Di Zeno is the real deal. So if you fancy the ‘70s Italian Prog bands, I highly recommend Sensitivita. You won’t be disappointed. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

The 10 albums of 2013...So Far

Well, since Summer is almost coming to an end and Fall coming soon, its time to take a look at some of the best albums to come out of 2013. So far, there had been some amazing bands and artists I have checked out and releasing some good albums. So here are the top 10 albums of 2013 so far. And again, criticism is welcome.

1. Purson – The Circle and the Blue Door [Rise Above Records]
2. La Maschera Di Cera – Le Porte Del Domani [BTF/AMS]
3. Blood Ceremony – The Eldritch Dark [Rise Above Records]
4. La Coscienza Di Zeno – Sensitivita [AltrOck/Fading]
5. Marbin – Last Chapter of Dreaming [Moonjune]
6. The Wrong Object – After the Exhibition [Moonjune]
7. Blackmore’s Night – Dancer and the Moon [Frontiers]
8. Unreal City – La Crudelta Di Aprile [Mirror Records/BTF]
9. Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused to Sing [KScope]
10. Soft Machine Legacy – Burden of Proof [Moonjune/Esoteric Antenna]

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Blood Ceremony - The Eldritch Dark

Blood Ceremony has really been receiving word of mouth and an underground following since their formation back seven years ago in their hometown in Toronto, Canada. The quartet take a lot of inspirations from the realms of Doom Metal, Acid Folk, and Prog/Psych Rock rolled up into their sleeves with the sounds of Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath, early Pink Floyd, and Comus. That and their follow up to Living with the Ancients, The Eldritch Dark, is one of the most heart-stopping yet explosive albums to get you ready for the next big step in Blood Ceremony’s career.

It is a knock-out from their first two albums and they capture the essence of the story-telling fairy tales in a gothic setting and black magic atmosphere as well to show that they have never given up on that and they have not reach a stop sign for it. Alia O’Brien is still mesmerizing with her vocals and can sing very well and adds the haunting touches with her flute and spooky surroundings on the organ while guitarist Sean Kennedy, brings the acoustic and electric vibes of the late ‘60s and the golden-era of the 1970s.

Songs like Goodbye Gemini, which begins with a flute/jazzy bass intro before it segues into heavy riff and rumbling chord lines as it reminisces the Pretty Things S.F. Sorrow-era and they really pay homage to the band to pay tribute while Lord Summerisle has this doomy acid folk duo between Lucas Gadke and O’Brien as the guitar goes through an echo chamber before going into a lukewarm crisp rhythm and the flute goes into a spiritual guidance. Opener, Witchwood has this rising to Organ-driven roar and a laid-back stoner bluesy rock feel to get the seat belts buckled up for an exhilarating roller-coaster ride as they go into town to start their engines up.

Ballad of the Weird Sisters sees them back into their folk-rock doom surroundings as the violin comes in as a tribute to Graham Smith of String Driven Thing a-la The Machine That Cried-era before the flute solo and then the laid-back grooves come kicking in to get you into the mood. The title track shows the band in their nightmarish psych powers with the metallic phrases in there as O’Brien’s vocals become Ozzy during his Sabbath Bloody Sabbath period and she can nail the high harmonies well as it goes straight into a Militant Rock format before getting back into the catchy climatic flute/guitar line finale.

The relaxation comes kicking in on Drawing Down the Moon. Beginning with a Bass/Organ intro then Kennedy’s guitar structures of Martin Barre and Tony Iommi and Alia comes back in shining with her vocals and taking her organ in the realms of the late Jon Lord and Keith Emerson lines that makes it an excellent combination to have the band a grand old time. Faunus is a stunning instrumental done by booming guitar and flute solo and drum patterns along with thumping laid-back bass lines before the 8-minute epic, The Magician.

Its based on the book by W. Somerset Maugham and the character Oliver Haddo (Alister Crowley’s alias name), in which he appeared in the previous album, Living with the Ancients, sees the band go into the Mini Rock Opera format.  And it’s a powerful storytelling to understand who the real Alister Crowley really was in his day as an occult and a poet. The music goes through various forms into a heavy rock format into a Prog-Organ finale as if they had done the score for Tim Burton’s Batman and the dystopian world of Gotham City.

This is one hell of an album from start to finish and it proves that Blood Ceremony show that they have come a long way. So if you fancy the Occult Rock sound, and Prog-Doom Metal structures, this is the right album at the right time. Rise Above Records/Metal Blade have scored a knock-out and they really got a band that are going to bring more to the table in the future!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Indicative - Indicative

A layered, laid-back, nightmarish, avant-garde, and a post-rock adventure has made it so strong and powerful, welcome Italian’s four piece group, Indicative whose sole self-titled debut album goes through various improvisations into uncharted territories without knowing where the pieces of the puzzles fit in exactly at the right moment, at the right time. Following in the footsteps of Tool, King Crimson, Mogwai, and bits of Norway’s own Elephant9 flowing here and there, this instrumental album is loud, crazy, and out of this world from beginning, middle, and end.

The tension dualistic between guitarist Salvatore Gabrieli and bassist Matteo Cogo is a shattering tour de force while drummer Luca Cometti comes up with these wonderful drum improvisations that sound like rapid gunfire coming out of nowhere as he pays homage to Bill Bruford and Martin Bulloch as they go through various homages to King Crimson’s Red and Mogwai’s The Hawk is Howling combined into one by making it a knock-out like no other.

It’s this type of genre that is as I’ve mentioned before, nightmarish and terrifying of imagining it as if could have been used for a David Lynch film or series in the realms of Lost Highway, Inland Empire, or the cult classic short-lived series, Twin Peaks, set with a dramatic score to set the tension and atmosphere on what will happen next to the character.  But, the great thing about this, they go into different direction with different time signatures and not to mention some waltzy movements that can give you the surprise doom treatment.

There are at times, Droning and Musique-Concrete experimentation's which is evidential on the 20-minute piece, St. Anthony’s Fire that the band go through a metallic piece for the first nine minutes of the piece with some wildly beauty before the looping of backward tapes, alarming-like keyboard sounds that shows they can take it up a notch as if they had recorded this in the subway tunnels and made this as if it was a dystopian universe in the realms of George Orwell’s 1984 and the Beatles Revolution 9.  I have listened to Indicative’s debut about three times already and it’s an exhilarating debut for the band to bring out to the table.

Is it easy to listen to? No. But with a cosmic and extremely alarming value, to come at you out of nowhere, they really are something. And again, it well worth use for Lynch’s film work to set the tone on how they are worth the band to explore if you’re a fan of: Prog Metal, Ambient Music, and the Post-Rock genre. A must listen to album from start to finish.

Monday, July 8, 2013

La Colpa - Mutuo Perpetuo

So, what do we have here? The sound on this EP has this twisted combination of Thrash Metal mixed in with Alternative Rock and Hardcore Punk rolled up into one. And let me just say that the three ingredients of the genres, work well together and the Italian group, La Colpa, are one of the most explosive yet exhilarating bands to come out of the Italian Rock scene of the 21st century. And while this is their debut EP, they have a long way to go.

With five compositions and a cover of a blood-red background featuring a dog getting ready to attack his tail, you know something adventurous is about to happen the moment you put your headphones on for a loud and roller-coaster ride you are about to embark on. The band considers Marco Muscara on Lead Vocals, Salvatore Gabrieli on Guitar, Matteo Cogo on Bass, and Luca Cometti on Drums. With a high voltage rumbling bolts coming out of the walls, you have to understand how they really pull it off and would the crowd go into a mosh pit with sweat all over them for an exciting moment in their lives.

The fuzz harder bass lines, guitar riffs, and pummeling drum work and vocals on the tracks that is the sound and concept of La Colpa’s music, shows how they can go into various rocking movements to get you going. The opening title track which starts off as a soundtrack to the El Mariachi trilogy with a guitar riff, machine gun drum exercise, and metallic bass lines. Not to mention Marco’s soft and shouting vocalization with a measure from Matteo and Luca creating tension between their instruments that is like a flaming fire getting ready to explode is electrifying!

La Dittatura Degli Anestesisti (The Dictator of Anaesthetists) opens with Salvatore’s guitar going into a haywire mode as Matteo and Luca go into some punk-like improve, and then goes into an accelerating mode as it deals with what has gone wrong with the world with war, violence, and the dictators taking over to prevent Peace happening. It’s a strong political subject, but they nailed it to show how disturbing and terrifying it is.

Il Nostro Passo (Our Pitch) sounds like something straight out of The Offspring’s Ixnay on the Hombre sessions, but with an attitude as it goes from soft guitar chords and then goes into a powder keg to burst into stirring results. Piano Biblico Di Salvezza (Biblical Plan of Salvation) is thrash punk like no other as they mixed in the Garage Rock vibe in the midsection by paying homage to Count Five’s Psychotic Reaction intro with a heavier reaction.

Then the closer, L’Impero (The Empire) goes into chaotic mode. As the instruments go into town as they sound like a speeding train to get into a full chugging sound for a fast-driven finale that is ready for action to get you pumped up and not to mention a thunderous Guitar roaring closer before Marco screams his vocals to close it off with a bang. There are some amazing music to come out of Europe whether its Rock, Punk, Metal, or Thrash, Mutuo Perpetuo (Mortgage Perpetual) is a thrilling and explosive debut to come out.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Unreal City - La Crudelta Di Aprile

Coming out of the sounds of ‘70s Italian and English Prog-Rock and almost as if they could have done the score for the 1974 sci-fi cult classic, Zardoz, Unreal City are an up-and-coming band from Parma that show you can take the genre into darker territories. Following into the footsteps of King Crimson, PFM, Le Orme, Genesis, and Banco, they are completely beyond your wildest imagination and their debut album, La Crudelta Di Aprile (The Cruelty of April), the band have shown that they can the genre up a notch.

Filled with beautiful atmospheric keyboard work in the sounds of the Mellotron, Moog, Harpsichord, and Organ along with Guitar work which makes you take a trip down memory lane, it’s a mesmerizing and exhilarating roller-coaster ride from the moment you put the album for a spin to enjoy an amazing journey, you’ll never forget. The band considers Emanuele Tarasconi on Lead Vocals and Keyboards, Francesca Zanetta on Electric Guitar, Francesco Orefice on Bass, and Federico Bedostri on Drums and they have been around since 2008 and they are going to hit the Prog Festivals one of these days to show that the genre is not dead, but a resurrection to give it a huge volt.

There are six breathtaking and mind-boggling compositions that which will take a few notes for the listener to get a real jaw-dropping surprise. The eight minute epic, Catabasi (Descensio Ad Inferos), begins with a dooming church organ introduction, percussion, and tubular bells setting the gothic atmosphere before Emanuele comes in with his vocals in the style of Peter Hammill and the vibes of Edgar Allen Poe as if he had wrote a mini rock opera of The Raven. And then, it goes into a catchy rhythm section featuring a dazzling Violin work done by Fabio Biale as he pays homage to Darryl Way of Curved Air as it becomes a terrifying nightmare before it mellows down to give it a calming relaxation.

Atlantis (Conferendis Pecuniis) is very spooky. Mellotrons and Moogs along with a Piano Concerto coming out of nowhere as Francesca just nails it with her Robert Fripp and David Gilmour-sque guitar work to give it a goosebumping starter and then goes into an alarming beauty which has this wonderful element, that is mellowing, swirling, and hypnotic phrase that is straight out of the sessions King Crimson’s Lizard and Pink Floyd’s A Saucerful of Secrets.

Meanwhile, Dove La Luce E’ Piu Intensa, which they have done a Promo Video of, has this ‘70s Symphonic Jazz Rock vibe thanks to the funky Clavinet done by Emanuele as he challenges George Duke and Rick Wakeman’s keyboard work before Francesco does his Jaco bass line as he and Federico go into Fusion town with a Funky twist as almost as if they were a trio with a lot of Thunderous momentum. The opener, Dell’Innocenza Perduta, goes into a beautiful dance surrounding. Acoustic Folk and Heavy Guitar lines along with the keyboards and Federico’s calming drum patterns, there is a lot of wonderful beauty from these four members very well.

The catchy and circus-like reggae touches on Ecate (Walpurgisnacht) give Francesca a moment to shine with her guitar. As I’ve mentioned before, she has the touches of David Gilmour and Robert Fripp, but with a bluesy funk psych wah-wah feel in the solo, it’s very waltzy as well with a humoristic quirkiness in there as the band have a grand old time. And then it’s the dramatic closing 17-minute epic, Horror Vacui that finishes the album off with a climatic finale.

It’s an excellent combination of sinister nightmarish difficult time changes filled with the voyages of the Keyboards going into the scores of a Horror Film, Francesco’s snapping bass work, ‘60s psych sounds that Francesca does on her guitar to give it a wailing and emotional cry and not to mention the crescendo with the roaring Mellotron to give it a big bang to close the curtains with roaring applauses.

I have listened to La Crudelta Di Aprile about 13 times already and I’m completely hooked into the band’s work. And I have to give Fabio Zuffanti, whose work includes: Aries, Finisterre, Hostsonaten, La Maschera Di Cera, and the story of Merlin: The Rock Opera, a huge amount of credit to work with an incredible up-and-coming band that really know the score very well. He, like Steven Wilson, has been a very busy man working on projects in the Prog community. So I might check out some of Fabio’s material later on this year. That said, this is an explosive debut that is a mind-blowing experience, you’ll never forget.