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

IN HOC SIGNO

Ingranaggi della Valle

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.03 | 170 ratings

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coasterzombie
5 stars Believe the hype - In Hoc Signo is among the best RPI albums this year and one of the most solid contemporary prog releases I've heard in ages. Ingranaggi Della Valle are a Roman quintet of ridiculously talented young musicians, whose influences seem to range from Arti e Mestieri and Quella Vecchia Locanda to King Crimson and Mahavishnu Orchestra. Their sound is firmly steeped in the RPI mold, and never deviates too far from the subgenre to question its classification. What sets Ingranaggi Della Valle apart from its peers is an astoundingly high level of composition and instrumental skill, paired with youthful exuberance and raw, passionate performances. The relatively dry production of In Hoc Signo straddles the murky sound of vintage prog and modern technology, never relying on studio wizardry for novelty or unnecessary polish. The final product is a conceptual affair which hearkens back to Campo di Marte and Alusa Fallax while never succumbing to impersonation; though In Hoc Signo wears influences on its sleeve, the album flows with an energy and pace unmatched by those classic archetypes, and dare I say even improves upon them. Ingranaggi Della Valle has renewed my faith in the genre and encourages me to share in the near universal praise of their debut.

"Introduzione" sets up the bombastic "Cavalcata" which immediately previews the album proceedings. Guitarist Flavio Gonnollini alternates between volume swells and thunderous riffs, clearly paying homage to Locanda Delle Fate. The song wastes no time getting to the verse and showcasing the expressive voice of singer Igor Leone. The virtuosic keyboard work of Mattia Liberatti is sprinkled throughout, while the rhythm section is comprised of Shanti Colluci on drums and a committee of bass players. Colluci practically steals the show, providing one head-spinning beat after another with a flurry of fills in between. Time changes stop on a dime and polyrhythm/odd-meter exercises do not seem to challenge the impressive drummer. As a case in point, check out the sextuple hi-hat at the 4:30 mark of "Cavalcata." Colluci makes the impossible possible, and not since Marco Minneman has such a capable performer impressed me so. His playing shifts to a more tasteful and less eye-popping achievement on "Mare in tempesta," allowing violinist Marco Gennarini room to solo and double the melody when needed. After only ten minutes, the band is just getting warmed up and some of the best is yet to come. "Via Egnatia" slows things down momentarily before exploding in a schizophrenic tirade. A fade to "L'Assedio di Antiochia" slowly builds to heavy prog dirge, finally erupting in tech prog metal, stopping abruptly and converting into a funky fusion jam out of nowhere! Then the song really finds its legs as the breakneck middle section evokes the frantic quality of early Arti e Mestieri. The theme is reprised again at the end and concludes the first half.

"Kairuv'an" shifts gears a bit and starts off with a Tunisian jazz before a gorgeous acoustic guitar transition gets us to the verse. The band begins to incorporate some more modern rock elements toward the latter half of the song, and conclude by recapitulating the jazzy introduction. "Musqat" sounds quite unlike anything else on the album, yet the instrumental seems to fit and is a welcome addition to the group's already stunning catalog. The psychedelic "Jangala Mem" will have you looking over your shoulder as the chilling melody and sound effects set an eerie atmosphere. "Il Vento del Tempo" continues the horrific feel initially, but then transforms into a dazzling symphonic wonder. This is the moment In Hoc Signo earns masterpiece status in my opinion, and "Finale" only solidifies that conclusion. The nine-plus minute opus drifts from romantic flair to jazz rock and from wild fusion to neo- prog, doing so seamlessly and with such taste that I can rate it nothing short of essential. To quote prog guru Greg Walker: "...simply put, this is one of the best Italian Prog albums to come along in a while..."

coasterzombie | 5/5 |

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