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Submarine Silence - There's Something Very Strange In Her Little Room CD (album) cover


Submarine Silence


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.15 | 41 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Hmmm...`There's Something Very Strange...about what's gone a little wrong here' might have been a better title for this one. It was easy to buy the CD of `There's Something Very Strange In Her Little Room' simply on the strength of Submarine Silence's previous self titled album back in 2001, and anyone who has heard that one may remember it was a lush and sophisticated instrumental album in the tradition of classic period Genesis. It's a work that has endured, so the promise and anticipation of a long- awaited follow-up after 12 years was very high. What a shame it is to discover that the band themselves seem to have somewhat lost focus of what made them special and endearing in the first place, despite many moments of greatness scattered sporadically throughout the disc.

Things look fine on the surface. The album has lovely evocative cover art with a lavish CD booklet, even if the colours are a little dark and ominous. The album is essentially one continuous 38 minute 14 part title track with three additional numbers at the end, and like the previous album, much of the music is grandly symphonic and full of numerous instrumental movements. There's an endless overload of majestic Mellotron, dazzling Minimoog, stirring electric guitar solos and delicate acoustic atmospheres, as well as some brief orchestral flourishes. This Italian band works closer to the Neo and symphonic genres than proper RPI, though there are still glimpses of that every now and then. The previous album showcased what a talented band of musicians they are, especially main composer Cristiano Roversi, and from an instrumental point of view, that is still very much evident. Just listen to the multi Mellotron choir `Prologue' that opens the album, the exhilarating `Childs At Play', the haunting `Sleepfall' and sumptuous `Aftersong'.

However, where the album badly falters is the use of vocals this time around. The addition alone wouldn't necessarily be cause for alarm, but in this particular case it has quite damaging results. Lead vocalist Ricky Tonco employs a forced gothic slur, a kind of pained David Bowie by way of Marilyn Manson-esque croon that pushes the wondrous music so far to the background. It sounds like the band were kind of hoping for an IQ/Arena dramatic and theatrical sound here, but despite much of the album having extended instrumental sections, everything crashes to the ground because of the endless use of the drab vocals, and it gives the music a colourless, mundane quality overall. Just compare how much the album picks up the second the vocals stop and you suddenly start paying attention again. Challenge yourself to make it through the eighth track `Passing Strange' and not give up on the album altogether, absolutely excruciating. Oddly, one of the extra tracks at the end features a different vocalist, Mirko Ravenoldi (of fellow Italian prog band Catafalchi Del Cyber), and even his delivery is quite shrill and harsh! Can't win either way here.

A serious rethink concerning the vocals is in order with this band. Artists trying new things should be supported, and we likely all have prog albums in our collection with poorer or average vocals that we still grow to love, but for now they are a serious liability for Submarine Silence. It's a shame they cover so much of the music (probably about 80% of the album), because the actual compositions and performance here are so promising. If you are willing to be patient, to take the time to focus on the playing and can overlook the vocals, you may really end up liking this. It's quite sad to be so critical of this point, and probably Tonco would sound fine under different circumstances, but hopefully other listeners can enjoy the album more and can see past this factor.

So a bit of a frustrating missed opportunity, but let's not write write the band off just yet, as there's too much talent to dismiss them quite so easily. Let's also hope we don't have to wait another 12 years for their next work.

Two and a half stars...rounded up to three for the actual playing and compositions.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |


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