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Ingranaggi della Valle - In Hoc Signo CD (album) cover

IN HOC SIGNO

Ingranaggi della Valle

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.94 | 189 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars Despite all living in different locations, the sound of the Prog Archives RPI team members jaws dropping could be heard echoing around the world when this little beauty came to our attention! The debut release `In Hoc Signo' from Ingranaggi Della Valle had us thinking `Hmmm, this is promising', moving through to `Wow, this is really good' to more or less `what a bloody classic!'. Those who bemoan the fact that too many modern Italian progressive releases are a little too `pretty', polished and safe need look no further for their next purchase to put their minds at ease. This one is positively schizophrenic and reckless with a hint of danger, with a nice restrained production that doesn't smooth over some rougher surfaces, instead making that just part of it's charm. It's overloaded with expert playing, winning arrangements with a charismatic vocalist, and the talent and confidence on display is even more shocking, coming from a debut release.

I was initially very intimidated attempting to review this album. Where to begin discussing an album that bridges the classic vintage defining releases from Italy with a modern sound so perfectly? This album kind of reminded me of Marsupilami's deranged `Arena' album, and although they were not an Italian band, that one headed in every direction at once with a spastic `take no prisoners, grab them by the throat' approach yet somehow still managed to hold together as a strong cohesive work. Maybe this opinion of mine is also swayed as I look at the battle scene depicted here on the front cover like that one too! Anyway, there's a focused confidence and a keen ear for sublime melodies weaving through the reckless, thrashing and fiery instrumental passages. Take the triumphant fanfares of P.F.M, the jazz/fusion precision of Arti e Mestieri in a more symphonic style (they get several mentions in this review!) and the traces of darkness and edge of Biglietto Per L'Inferno and you might get an idea where to begin.

The boisterous and confident opener `Cavalcata' instantly kicks listeners from behind with Marco Gennarini's searing manic violin, the dazzling pomp and stomp organ of 70's Genesis, somber Radiohead-like group vocals and manic twisty electric guitar soloing. `Mare In Tempesta' is jazzy and light-footed to begin with but soon offers just a brief glimpse of 70's fusion that will really take off later in the album. You also start to quickly realise what an accomplished vocalist Igor Leone is, crooning and romantic one second, wild the next! `Via Egnatia' moves through the lethargic drowsy guitar atmosphere of early Pink Floyd, majestic and violent Mellotron bursts, Biglietto Per L'Inferno- like snarling darkness and unpredictable danger. Guitarist Flavio Gonnellini really gets to show off in this one too with his maddening rapid-fire electric runs, while guest performer Fabrizio Proietti provides some stirring acoustic guitar atmosphere in the second half. Igor really unleashes on this one too, totally unhinged and rabid like the most memorable Italian 70's vocalists.

Now the album really starts to hit it's stride, `L'Assedio Di Antiochia' being a total stunner from beginning to end, heading in so many unexpected directions with endless tempo changes back and forth - There's a plodding heaviness and snarling anger to the guitars and drummer Shanti Colucci works up a ferocious pounding storm. You get jazzy funk diversions, terrific and varied use of group vocals (some of them becoming very horrific and ranting), nimble Arti e Mestieri-like violin fusion and Hammond/electric piano keyboard goodness. The quality carries on into wondrous slow- burning instrumental `Fuga Da Amman', where the jazz/rock-fusion talents of the band really shine. The violin has that edgy roughness of the first Quella Vecchia Locanda album, insanely busy drumming and Santana-like burning electric guitar soloing. Keyboard player Mattia Liberati gets to show off his talent with his army of classic prog keyboard equipment, whether it's the sprightly jazzy electric piano or colourful synth soloing in the finale. Again, Arti e Mestieri lovers and fusion fans will really dig this one!

Listen to the combination of Mattia's Le Orme-styled organ and spiraling jazzy piano over Simone Massimi's gorgeous murmuring bass taking flight in the opening minutes of `Kairuvan'. We even get a brief acoustic passage with Igor purring over the top, and it's nice to hear the band ease up for some low-key passages like this, even if only briefly, before a Genesis-like triumphant fanfare finale and reprise of the opening. `Masqat' and `Jangala Mem' are mostly instrumental AeM- flavoured jams. The first has very quick-fire time changes, dirty strutting guitar funk, punchy bass, hot Hammond runs, and a brief ethereal floating treated vocal passage. The latter has an unnerving electronic menace, bashing percussion and improvised violent violin/electric guitar interplay, truly suffocating in its clawing intensity.

Droning middle eastern chanting ambience, loopy scat vocals and break-neck speed snapping violin/guitar/drum violence cuts through `Il Vento Del Tempo', but it's the almost ten minute `Finale' that will get a lot of attention due to the involvement of Van der Graaf Generator's David Jackson on sax and flute. Just like in that band, he brings a dark, sinister and unnerving tension, here it even reminds of fellow Italian band Delirium. Rounded out with icy Mellotron blasts, groovy uptempo pumping bass and rattling drums, mind-shattering ranted group vocals that spit at the listener and a frantic maniacal and noisy final run, the piece closes the album in a hypnotic, sophisticated and stirring manner.

2013 has been a banner year for outstanding progressive music emerging from Italy, whether it's the classical instrumental professionalism of Progenesi, the youthful merging of the old vintage sounds with the new contemporary appeal of Unreal City, or the return of darker tinged RPI sounds such as L'Albero del Veleno and Il Babau e i Maledetti Cretini. But it's Ingranaggi Della Valle's perfect debut album that successfully takes exactly what made the classic 70's Italian works so defining, and delivers them to a modern audience with exactly the same unpredictable wild abandon, produced with talent, sophistication and a real understanding of the genre while standing perfectly on their own merits. `In Hoc Signo' may just be one of the best RPI albums since the 70's period, and is simply an essential purchase for anyone with an interest in the genre.

Five stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 5/5 |

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