Sunday, 28 September 2014


Ad Maiora began life in Milan in 2009 on the initiative of a bunch of experienced musicians with a different background but with the common goal of playing their own original compositions influenced by bands such as Genesis, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Yes, Pink Floyd, Premiata Forneria Marconi or Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, just to name but a few. After some line up changes and some live experiences on the local scene, in 2014 they self-released an interesting debut album, Ad Maiora!, with a line up featuring Enzo Giardina (drums), Flavio Carnovali (electric guitar), Moreno Piva (bass, classical guitar), Paolo Callioni (vocals) and Sergio Caleca (keyboards). The name of the band comes from a Latin expression that means to greater things and in some way describes the band's attitude and their wish to find a new way by combining vintage and modern sounds. The result of their efforts is very good and their first album is absolutely worth listening to.

art cover

The opener "Diatriba" (Argument) is a tantalizing instrumental piece filled with dark energy. Every now and again I'm reminded of Goblin and in my opinion this track might be a perfect score for a thriller movie. Then comes another charming instrumental, "Sugo Dance", a lively track with a strong Mediterranean flavour and a joyful pace.

The darker "Dream" is the third instrumental in a row and features some aggressive electric guitar riffs and sparse exotic touches that take you on a musical journey under the stars for one thousand and one Arabian Nights, along the Silk Road. It leads to "Eclissi Orientale" (Oriental Eclipse) where the music and lyrics depict the atmosphere and the colours of the bazaar in the city of Aqaba, a sunrise by the Red Sea and a sunset in the desert. Then you get lost in your dreams when the moon meets the sun and lies like a bride on him... By the way, despite the Italian title the track is sung in English and it's a real pity that the band didn't exploit more their native language.

Goblin's influence looms large also over the following "Nulla intenso" (Intense naught), another thrilling instrumental track that evokes nightmarish atmospheres and restless nights. It leads to the apparent calm of "Strange", a reflective, melancholic ballad where the music and lyrics depict a man haunted by crazy dreams and ghosts from his past that make difficult, even painful to him decide to change his way of life.

Next comes the long, complex instrumental "Menate" (the title could be approximately translated as little, silly problems), a nice mix of different moods and atmospheres that leads to the jazzy "Summertime", inspired by George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess and featuring heartfelt vocals and a good electric guitar solo.

Ad Maiora on stage

"Corolla" is another excellent instrumental track blending rock and classical influences. Together, all of the petals of a flower are called a corolla... Well, in my opinion this piece evokes a joyful, colourful Celebration of springtime and makes me think of light birds with red feathers dancing a playful tarantella in the sky.

The conclusive "No More War" brings back Middle-Eastern atmospheres. Here the music and lyrics depict a sunny winter morning on the Cheekha Dar and a hot sunny afternoon by the Lake Hammar with children playing and nice green parrots flying. Then comes a quiet, starry night on the desert and you can see the children sleeping and forget for a moment the threatening shadows of the never ending war that still ravages the enchanted Iraqi landscapes...

Ad Maiora 2014

On the whole, I think that this is a very interesting work. Anyway, have a try and judge by yourselves: you can listen to the complete album HERE

Ad Maiora: Ad Maiora! (2014). Other opinions:
Michael "Aussie-Byrd-Brother": One of the most varied and unpredictable progressive albums to emerge from Italy in quite some time... Ad Maiora work in everything from symphonic prog, jazz, heavy rock, blues, the romantic prog styling of Camel, and even some of the classical sophistication of the proper RPI/Italian prog bands... `Ad Maiora!' gets the band off to a great start, already setting the bar very high for their future works... (read the complete review HERE)
Thomas Szirmay: This is a dazzling debut album, full of master craftsmanship, thematic creativity, totally memorable melodies and backing rhythms that once again prove vividly that Italian prog is fine and healthy, unlike their plodding economy, piss-poor politics and neurotic soccer team... (read the complete review HERE)

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Saturday, 27 September 2014


L'enigma della vita (The enigma of Life) is the third album by Logos, an Italian prog band from Verona that was formed in 1996. It was released in 2014 on the independent label Andromeda Relix with a renewed line up featuring Luca Zerman (organ, Mellotron, synthesizer, vocals), Fabio Gaspari (drums, bass), Claudio Antolini (piano, keyboards, synthesizer) and Massimo Maoli (guitar) plus some special guests as Alessandro Perbellini (drums), Simone Bistaffa (guitar), Simone Chiampan (drums) and Gianbattista Bodei (narrative vocals). A long time has passed from their previous work Asrava, from 2001, but during all these years the band never stopped and kept on working on the new compositions, refining them, recording them without pressure nor hurry, with care, determination and love. The result is an excellent concept album conceived as a long suite about the life, nature and time passing by, a mature work where the band showcase great musicianship and personality blending vintage sounds, poetry and new ideas. Well, the beautiful artwork by Luca Zerman and all the images that you can find in the booklet perfectly fit the poetical strength of the lyrics and the evocative power of the music: probably they can help you to understand the concept better than all my words... 

The dreamy opener “Antifona” is a short instrumental track that sets the atmosphere and fades in the following “Venivo da un lungo sonno” (I was awakening from a long sleep) where a pulsing rhythm conjures up the image of a night train running through dark shadows and ethereal, lunar landscapes. In a wagon a passenger wakes up at the noise provoked by a drought against the curtains. He emerges from a long sleep and can hear some people nearby speaking in a foreign, unknown language. It's still dark, the mysterious passenger has forgotten his destination and now he's on his way leading to nowhere, lost in the mist...

Logos 2014

Next comes the disquieting “In fuga” (Running away) where the music and lyrics draw the image of some soldiers in the snow. They're running away from the battlefield seeking for freedom. Their life is hanging on a thin rope while around them the storm is raging... The following “Alla fine dell'ultimo capitolo” (At the end of the last chapter) is filled with tension and dark visions and depicts an empty town where a fugitive man looks for a shelter from the storm. He walks alone among ruins and crumbling walls but he can feel something in the air, the streets seem haunted by strange presences. Suddenly he sees a dim light glimmering through the dust, a pale flame of life and hope. A ghost gets close to him and tells him to keep that flame burning...

N.A.S.” is a charming instrumental track that every now and again reminds me of Le Orme and Banco del Mutuo Soccorso and makes me think of a glider taking off towards distant planets where there are rivers of lava and creatures generated by earth and electricity. It leads to the ethereal, reflective title track, “L'enigma della vita” (The enigma of life), where the music and lyrics raise questions about the origin of life: was it just the result of vibrating atoms clashing against each other at random or rather the mathematical product of a superior maker? The answer is hidden inside every man but we can't catch it, we keep on running after forces that we can't understand and we are always left in doubt, wandering in the dark and trying to learn how to overcome our ignorance, in vain...

In principio” (In the beginning) is a long, complex track about the mystery of creation and the relativity of time. It starts softly by an acoustic guitar arpeggio, then goes through many changes in mood and rhythm taking you on a mystical trip across the universe. Stars and planets come to life and die as the men who claim to be the masters of the universe. The wisdom of a superior hand carved and shaped indescribable forms and painted the deserts with infinite colours, gave life to rivers and human beings... In the beginning there was nothing, from nothing we came and we're bound to return to nought...

Completamente estranei” (Completely aliens) takes us back to Earth. This track starts by painting haunting notes in deep red colours and conveying a strong sense of tension... Here the music and lyrics depict a little tunnel that opens on a side-walk corner. It's the entrance to the hidden part of the city where live the homeless and the poor. The people who pass every day by that place never notice it, they can see distant stars and planets but not the unfortunate men and children in rags who live underground. For them they're nothing but transparent aliens coming from another world...

In quale luogo si ferma il mio tempo” (Where my time stops) is a melancholic, classically inspired instrumental track for piano solo that leads to the epic “Pioggia in campagna” (Rain in the country), a complex track that depicts in a very curious way the relationship between man and nature. The lyrics draw a parallelism between a man and a feather floating in the air that the first gust of wind will sweep away. He can hear what the leaves on the trees have to tell, he can see how the nature takes his revenge on the wrecks of old cars and trucks that are collapsing in a field, covered by grass and already half-swallowed by the marshy ground... No one can save men and their work from the imperceptible fury of time! The following “Il rumore dell'aria” (The noise of air) closes the circle. It's a short track featuring narrative vocals that takes you back to the starting point, to a man emerging from a long sleep. We can't say how long he had been sleeping, maybe centuries or millennia. We don't know where he fell asleep, maybe under an oak in springtime or on the bank of a river in winter. We can't say when time stopped, all we know is that it was the noise of the air to wake him up and that perhaps he had not been sleeping more than a minute...

You can listen in streaming to the complete album HERE

Logos: L'enigma della vita (2014). Other opinions:
Michael "Aussie-Byrd-Brother": To have the musical skill and confidence to successfully pull of a perfect mix of both vintage influences and modern styles is utterly inspiring, and those who want to experience everything they cherish about Italian progressive music now know one of the best bands that carries on that proud tradition... (read the complete review HERE)

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Saturday, 20 September 2014


Røsenkreütz is mainly the brainchild of an experienced multi-instrumentalist and producer from Verona, Fabio Serra. In 2006 he gathered around him a bunch of talented musicians to refine some of his old demos and work on new compositions. In 2014, after a long, hard work, Røsenkreütz's debut album, Back To The Stars, was finally completed and released on the independent label Andromeda Relix with a line up featuring Fabio Serra (guitars, keyboards, vocals), Gianni Brunelli (drums, percussions), Gianni Sabbioni (bass) and Massimo Piubelli (vocals). In the studio they were helped by some guests musicians such as Angela Merlin (vocals), Carlo Soliman (grand-piano), Luca Nardon (percussion), Gabriele Amadei (violin) and Cristiano Roversi (from Moongarden, Submarine Silence and Mangala Vallis - Chapman stick) who contributed to enrich the sound and the final result is an excellent crossover formula that, without being too derivative, I'm sure will appeal to fans of Toto, Kansas or The Spock's Beard.

The dark, nervous opener “Signals In The Water” is a disquieting reflection about life and afterlife where time stops for a moment while a man dives into the water from a high cliff with suicidal intentions. It's like a riddle where sneaky shadows blot out reality and you get lost in a nightmare where you are drowning in your old lies...

Then comes “Sitting On The Edge Of Heaven”, a wonderful track full of spirituality and positive feelings where you can find a perfect blending between powerful rock energy and delicate, classical inspired passages. The music and lyrics are about the need to take your time and choose your own way to heaven, a way you'll never regret. The short passage a cappella is a real treat!

Conditioning” features synthetic sounds and melodic vocals warning you about the risks of the virtual reality you live on your computer, hiding your face behind a screen, loosing your innocence, feeding the appetite of an evil, technological idol. It leads to the romantic “Nothing More In You” where the music and lyrics tell of a relationship between a man and a woman that is going through a period of deep crises, a love that is fading away between empty shadows and misplaced feelings.

Next comes the jumping “Childish Reaction” that reminds me of Van Halen and is overflowing with good feelings and positive energy, then it's the turn of a tribute to The Beatles, a nice cover of “I Am The Walrus”.

The title track, “Back To The Stars”, closes the album. It's a long suite divided into seven parts, an over 17 minute epic that starts by a charming piano solo pattern and then grows going through many changes in mood and rhythm. The music and lyrics depict the feelings of an astronaut floating in a crimson dusk, suspended between heaven and hell, tore apart by the contrast between the wish to go back home and the fear to loose his celestial peace... Well, in my opinion this is by far the best track of the album and a perfect conclusion for this interesting work.

Røsenkreütz: Back To The Stars (2014). Other opinions:
Michael “Aussie-Byrd-Brother”: Some may find the lack of a clear sound or direction a little confusing, but it's really a band trying to appeal to as wide an audience as possible and tick a number of boxes. The album is full of strong compositions, slick playing and skillful vocals with a modern polished production, and the band is proudly unashamed of aiming to catch the ear of more accessible music listeners. Røsenkreütz are a very promising band to watch in the future, and `Back to the Stars' is a near-perfect example of how good crossover bands can be when they get that balance of progressive technicality with melodic commercial appeal just right - no easy feat!... (read the complete review HERE)
Jason Spencer: This album is flashy, somewhat cheesy, but rich musically and serious where it counts. It explores both the deep and shallow end of the prog pool, but I think it comes out a winner in the end... (read the complet review HERE)

Friday, 19 September 2014


The Legend Of The Holy Circle is the second album by Three Monks, an instrumental project from Arezzo led by composer and organist Paolo “Julius” Lazzari and bassist Maurizio “Bozorius” Bozzi. As on the previous album, during the recording sessions they were helped by Claudio “Ursinius” Cuseri and Roberto “Placidus” Bichi who, in turns, took charge of drums. In my opinion, this work, released in 2013 on Black Widow Records, confirms all the good qualities of its predecessor and goes even further with the musicians trying elaborate a real storyline through their music: in fact, according to an interview with the band, this is a concept album, a kind of score for a film that you have to build up. Anyway, there are no liner notes to explain the plot and there's nothing but the music, the art cover by Margherita Zanotti, some pictures and the titles of the tracks to suggest how the story unfurls. All the rest is left to the sensibility and imagination of the listener...

The opener “The Holy Circle” sets the atmosphere with dark pipe organ rides and frenzied bass lines. Traditionally, circles were believed by ritual magicians to form a protective barrier between themselves and what they summoned and the Holy Circle is supposed to be the main line of defence against the forces of the Outside. On the art cover you can see three mysterious characters with their hands stretched out on a strange sphere where shines the light of a dangerous, powerful force while here the music evokes esoteric practices and infernal dances...

The following “Into Mystery” begins by threatening, obsessive bass lines and a hypnotic marching beat, then solemn church-like organ notes soar taking you across dark places where strange rituals are celebrated. It could be the perfect background for the reading of the works of H. P. Lovecraft or Gustav Meyrink...

The Battle Of Marduk” is even tenser. It seems to describe a raging battle against the devils summoned from the other-world. What kind of devils? Well, Marduk is the Babylonian name of a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia associated with water, vegetation, judgement, and magic... Scenes from films like The Mummy or The Scorpion King could come to mind while listening to the different passages of this complex track full of dark energy.

The Rest Of The Sacred Swarm” comes like the calm after the storm. It's a beautiful adagio for pipe organ solo that draws you between the desert aisles of a Gothic cathedral. It leads to “Rieger” where you can experience a breathtaking mystical experience surrounded by strong smells of incense. Th title of this track refers to the Austrian master organ-builder from the XIX century Franz Rieger and in the inner sleeve you can admire a picture of a sumptuous pipe organ in Prague Cathedral...

Next comes the long, complex epic “The Strife Of Souls”, a magnificent track that every now and again reminds me of Emerson, Lake & Palmer and drives you through the many different moods and situations of a terrible conflict between Good and Evil, with angels and demons fighting all around. The brilliant “Toccata Neogotica #5 (Epilogue)” closes the circle evoking the immense force of destiny and waking you up from your uneasy dreams... On the whole a great album that everyone is free to interpret as he likes but that is absolutely worth listening to!

Three Monks: The Legend Of The Holy Circle (2013). Other opinions:
Kev Rowland: This is very much a band, all pulling together in the same direction, showing just how powerful a pipe organ can be in the hands of someone who really knows what he is doing... This is an incredible example of keyboard based progressive rock, and fans of this style definitely need to seek this out... (read the complete review HERE)
Mark Johnson: Sit back and revel in this unique opportunity to emerse yourself in prophetic church organ symphonies without vocals. After all, words would only detract from the music. Thankfully there are still musicians inspired by this form of music still creating... If you like the keyboards playing a primary role in the music you enjoy, then this album is definitely not to be missed... (read the complete review HERE)

Monday, 15 September 2014


Locus Amoenus began life in 2010 in San Michele di Serino, a small town in the province of Avellino, in an area called Irpinia. The name of the band comes from a literary quote that refers to an ideal place where you can reflect about life and reality: an imaginary, beautiful spot and a real source of inspiration for the mind. After a hard work and a good live activity on the local scene, in 2013 the band self-released an excellent debut album, “Clessidra” (Hourglass), with a line up featuring Alessio Vito (vocals, guitar, flute), Raffaele Purgante (electric guitar), Antonio Di Filippo (sax), Alessandro Ragano (bass) and Mauro Cefalo (drums). The overall sound draws on many sources of inspiration ranging from classical music to jazz, from folk to metal, but the members of the band managed to add a good deal of original ideas, personality and freshness. The result is pretty good and even if on the album you can hear echoes from the seventies you can feel that this is not a clone act at all and, in my opinion, the music is really worth listening to from start to finish with an open mind.

art cover

The opener “Tra la mente e gli infiniti inverni dell'anima (Preludio)” (Between the mind and he infinite winters of the soul) sets the atmosphere of this work. It's a beautiful instrumental piece that starts at the sound of a bell and features many changes in mood and rhythm. The title is in some way related to the art cover by Davide Panarella that, according to an interview with the band, tries to capture the spirit of the whole album representing a glance through the soul's eye over an arid, cold reality.

Then comes the long, complex “Inverno” (Winter) that every now and again recalls bands such as Osanna, Van der Graaf Generator and Jethro Tull, with a good interaction between sax and flute. The music and lyrics depict an eye in the sky observing the bitter destiny of the earth: it looks at the earth's defeat from above while a tear wets its hermitage, sweeping away its malignity. Cold winds blow shaking the dry branches of a tree, then the tree drops its fruits and disquieting instrumental passages evoke a never ending winter. Clouds of smoke cover the sky and the light gets lost into the darkness while the tired eye keeps on looking at the gloomy landscape below, crying...

The following “Il suono di Lei” (Her sound) is another long, complex track. The mood is lighter, here the music and lyrics try to conjure up a mystical character, a goddess who can breath a new life into a bleak reality, waking up the senses with her singing. It's almost a parable about the cathartic power of music: there's no hope without the charming sounds coming out from some mysterious, enchanted woods... Only those sounds can break the chains of the daily grind!

Lettera di un folle” (Letter from a madman) begins by the sound of a quill writing frantically on paper and a delicate acoustic guitar arpeggio, then the rhythm rises. There are many changes in rhythm and mood, some soft passages remind me of Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, some others are wilder and remind me of Area and Il Balletto di Bronzo. The music and lyrics depict a man halfway between lucidity and folly who's drawing some images taken from a blurred reality that Time is blotting out. The words are moving on the paper like leafs falling from a tree: tired, they get lost along the way, in an eternal quest for a Love that whips the heart...

Locus Amoenus on stage

At over six minutes in length, “Amleto” (Hamlet) is the shortest track on the whole album but it's not not an easy listening one. In fact, this is an experimental piece featuring a free jazzy approach and confused voices in the background declaiming some verses from Shakespeare's Hamlet. The atmosphere is dark, suspended between dream and nightmare...

Next comes the melancholic “Anima” (Soul), a bitter-sweet reflection about life and afterlife where for a moment your soul breaks through and your mind begins to fly across a crying sky, over dreams and illusions, over hopes and disappointments, towards a fairy land where there's no room for pain. The come back to reality is hard when the parallel world you were dreaming of suddenly clashes with the usual routine of a life where everything is normal and boring.

The dreamy “I segni del Mio tempo” (The signs of My time) closes the album with a touching reflection about the effects of consumerism. In a world where materialism and money rule without mercy there's no room for real beauty and feelings. Music dies and poetry fades away while freedom fails... Well, after a silent pause there's still time for a sudden, hidden burst of rage and indignation!

On the whole, I think that this is a very good album where the poetical lyrics perfectly fit the music drawing melancholic, beautiful wintry landscapes suspended between dream and reality. Anyway, have a try and judge by yourselves!

You can listen in streaming to the complete album HERE

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Wednesday, 3 September 2014


Mad Fellaz are a young band from from Bassano del Grappa, a town in the province of Vicenza, that began life in 2010 on the initiative of Paolo Busatto, Marco Busatto and Emanuele Pasin with the aim of playing original music inspired by the prog masters from the seventies but also by more recent bands such as Porcupine Tree. After a first demo in 2012, in 2013 Mad Fellaz released an excellent eponymous debut album on the independent label Lizard Records with a line up featuring Paolo Busatto (guitar), Marco Busatto (drums), Emanuele Pasin (guitar), Carlo Passuello (bass), Enrico Brunelli (keyboards) and Rudy Zilio (flute, clarinet). The album is completely instrumental and the band showcase great musicianship and excellent song-writing skills. The musical fabric is extremely rich and combines vintage sounds and modern influences with surprising freshness and brilliant results: in my opinion there's enough originality thrown into the mix to keep all the compositions and arrangements forward looking and interesting from the first minute to the last.

album cover

The album begins by a long, complex suite divided into two parts, “Il colpevole” (The guilty), that could be the perfect score for an Italian crime film from the seventies. There are no liner notes, so the plot is completely left up to your imagination while the music flows away without weak passages for more than thirty minutes, going through many changes in rhythm and mood, from delicate, nocturnal piano passages to fiery, nervous collective chases...

Next comes the lively “Banda Scavejoni”, the shortest track on the album that with its funky grooves recalls bands such as Calibro 35 and evokes more action and criminal deeds with a typical poliziottesco atmosphere.

The following “White Widow” starts with a drum roll, then a bluesy pace takes over while Jethro Tull's shadow looms large over the horizon. Who is the White Widow here? Is she a wicked, dangerous woman or just a powerful cannabis strain? The band give no clues and it's up to you to decide what the music is about...

The album ends with the nearly fifteen minute epic “La giungla” (The jungle) where you can experience exotic flavours and a strong sense of adventure. You can find here a broad palette of musical colours, from oriental mysticism to flamenco sketches, from dark tribal rhythms to joyful Latin rock à la Santana and while listening to this track I'm reminded of the adventures of fictional characters such as Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor Challenger or Henry Rider Haggard's Allan Quatermain... A wonderful conclusion for a very interesting work!

Mad Fellaz 2014

In 2014, soon after the album was released, the band went through some line-up changes: guitarist Emanuele Pasin left while Lorenzo Todesco (percussion) and Jason Nealy (guitars) stepped in. At the moment Mad Fellaz are working on new material and I'm looking forward to listen to it!

Mad Fellaz: Mad Fellaz (2013). Other opinions:
Michael “Aussie-Byrd-Brother”: Combining everything from guitar fusion workouts, metal, ambient, electronica, avant-garde experimentation, jazz, ethnic flavours and plenty of Italian classical sophistication, their atmospheric self titled album constantly showcases a band that greatly enjoys experimenting with different genres, yet they never over-reach or attempt anything they're not comfortable with. Even more impressive is that they succeed in performing these different styles effortlessly in a truly proficient manner, making for an album that is daring, unpredictable and endlessly thrilling... Certainly one of the most sublime, varied and exquisite instrumental albums of recent years... A hugely exciting and talented band with a very promising future, already playing with a grand skill well beyond their young years... (read the complete review HERE)

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