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Three Monks - Neogothic Progressive Toccatas CD (album) cover


Three Monks


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.90 | 42 ratings

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4 stars I caught myself mesmerized by the church-organ band concept that has completely beguiled me with Resonaxis' Hymnarium , so it was obvious that turning on those damned search engines and keying in "pipe-organ" would yield some new found , hitherto unknown jewel. Three Monks from Italy offer up a more neo-classical version of ELP, with no pianos, synthesizers, celeste or harmonium, just plain old massive church organ. Add some booming bass, glorious bass pedals and some thumping drums, ba-boom! It is absolutely crucial to listen to this at the loudest volume possible, in order to parallel the friary feel. "Neo-gothic Progressive Toccatas" is right, my dear hooded friends! This is one of the most hard-core albums I have heard, as the breathing pipe monster simply engulfs the proceedings with its whirring bombast, providing a soundtrack for eternal damnation or at the very least, a spooky James Bond meets Dan Brown thriller. Everything about this album is eerie, from the otherworldly sound, to the echoed production, the bleak artwork and the look of these screwed up monk/musicians is enough to release a deep sense of malaise. I put this on the car stereo and cranked it up, smiling stupidly at others drivers waiting for the Calgary traffic lights to turn green -with envy. It was funny seeing all those cowboy jaws drop! I just love being a sonic terrorist!

Opening salvo is the 8 minute + "Progressive Magdeburg", a thoroughly Teutonic onslaught that would have made Odin and Thor proud, a no-holds-barred organ rampage of the highest order (Opus Dei?) that kicks royal ass. The Magdeburg pipe-organ has a massive echoing and metallic tinge that, combined with a driving bass and thrashing drum attack, really gives Emerson and company a lesson in colossal power.

Thankfully, the mellower but epic "Toccata 1" offers a brief respite from the 'sturm und drang', incorporating more romantic Italian-style operatics that somehow soothe more than devastate. Eleven minutes of searing organ aesthetics remindful of the ecclesiastic impression given by Wakeman on "Anne Boleyn" for example. This symphonic exercise has more classic overtones were it not for the rhythm section bashing away with frenzied abandon (the rolling bass in particular is quite stupendous here and throughout the album). Now of course, the entire purpose of the powerful magnificence of the sound is to engulf the listener/believer into abject acceptance and numbed humility. The final section is spectrally ambient, as if in complete repentance, showing off melodic tendencies and not just power! The finale therefore incorporates terrific rifling drum fills and incessant bass themes that coalesce with the heavenly glory.

The absolute highlight piece here by far for prog addicts is the insane brilliance of "Neogothic Pedal solo" which starts off with ethereal choir work as if recorded in some faraway abbey or hidden monastery. Then liquid bass kicks in, preparing the platform for a bass pedal solo that will blow your spires and then the organ takes over with its sonic incandescence,! A thunderous slice of incredible prog-rock, both playful and overpowering.

"Herr Jann" is more keyboard thunder and rhythmic lightning, a fast paced, bruising piece that has a distinct Rick Van der Linden flavour (He of Ekseption and Trace fame). Paolo Lazzeri plays with obvious endowment and devotion, quickly engaging the powerful instrument on its own terms, a full frontal sonic assault on the senses. Bassist extraordinaire Maurizio Cozzi carves some serious ruts within the torrents of wind-blown notes.

I bet you readers out there in Progland were wondering when the Goblin influences would ever show up, well "Profondo Rosso" is here and as with the Goblin crew, the music has all the cinematographic qualities one would expect and as such, the delivered music is plain terrific. Impressions of 'deep red' are evident, the bass work in particular manages to grab the Goblin spirit perfectly (Their bassman Fabio Pignatelli is a monster). Three Monks offer up a heavier version which is not surprising, as everything they do is lacerated with burden! "Profondo Gotico" serves as a brilliant companion piece, the arrangement fitting nicely into the previous mood, though with only a slight 'lightness' that is still very Gothic. A coalescence of styles, Italian and Germanic under one cathedral dome.

"Toccata 7" is in honour of Anton Bruckner, famed Austrian composer known for his masses, motets and symphonies and of course a master organist himself. Bruckner favored all kinds of radical innovations such as dissonance, impromptu modulations and rambling harmonies and Lazzeri expresses these characteristics with dedicated reverence.

This is definitely not everyday progressive rock unless you want to be the next Silas, the suffering and self-mutilating soldier of God, desperate to protect the last remnants of the greatest power on earth. When the disc ends and silence appears, you really get the gist of this intoxicating music, its numbing effect and incredible impact on your ears.

4 trio of hermits

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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