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Civico 23 - Siero progressivo CD (album) cover

SIERO PROGRESSIVO

Civico 23

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.76 | 9 ratings

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seventhsojourn
Special Collaborator
RPI
4 stars When Civico 23 celebrated their third birthday in October last year they might well have had a dual celebration because their debut album had just cleared the way for their addition to the PA database. And if any champagne was quaffed during a wee celebratory swally it might have been accompanied by the crashing of a case of the heavy stuff, 'cos on the evidence of 'Siero Progressivo' these guys offer an unusual coincidence of hard rock and metal influences that includes Joe Cocker alongside Dream Theater, System of a Down, Pink Floyd and Deep Purple. However they also shake the RPI tree hard enough. The above-named influences are tempered with echoes of their Italian brethren and, without wishing to overcook the praise, 'Siero Progressivo' proposes a work of occasional wow-factor Italian progressive rock albeit with an emphasis on the R O C K part of the equation.

Okay, so this is no tiptoe through the tulips of Italian pastoral prog. Centred around lead singer Joe Galatone's forty-a-day vocals, Civico 23's inventions are messy raw and riffsome. It's like the guys in the band are bollock-naked 'cept for sporting the multiple hats of heavy prog, metal and hard rock. From the rain-bearing wind that introduces the opening track, right through to the sound of waves at the fag end of the album, the whole thing is lashed by a tidal wave of rumbustious organs and spiralling guitars. It reaches its peak of heaviness midway though the album on the gratuitous metal hornpipe of 'Paura Infinita', a track that's fuelled by dogwatch hallucinatory images of ghost pirates and fire ships. Similarly, 'Urano' blasts off with the power of a salvo from an atomic seven-barrelled volley- gun and hurtles across space on a post-armagideon visionary voyage to Uranus. And back on the vocals front, your man Galatone comes across here like a rapacious Ouranos, initially creamin' his jeans but eventually sounding frantic (He's frantic, one-one-eight!) when a sickle-packin' Kronos blooters his knackers to the four winds. He's a wee toe-rag, that Kronos.

In the absence of an overarching concept the album kind of sounds like a collection of songs to read 'Orlando Furioso' by. It offers a litany of diverse subject material - Jungian philosophy, humanism, the seamy realm of pimps and druggies, space travel, depopulation and so on. With such a catholic appropriation of the Italian storytelling tradition, these young Romans have clearly learned to say more than their prayers. Fortunately for non-speakers of Italian the music really tells its own stories. For example 'Il Cavaliere Illuso' presents an allegory on Western foreign policy through the improbable tale of a knight whose act of vanquishing a dragon has unintended consequences for the good sir. The monster in this here story protects a town by absorbing the negative emotions of the townsfolk, and as soon as the dragon is toast the knight himself becomes the object of all the community's scuttlebutt. He's less of a gallant knight and more of a feckless fud, trippin' over his own armour in the shambling drum intro. The dragon then appears to a ponderous Iommi-style riff and along the way the band kicks up an almighty stooshie with the ensuing battle and the rousing of the village rabble to a punky Cossack battle-cry. Finally, a swelling organ refrain heralds the knight's melancholy as it all ends in tears for him and he's forced to shag off to hide in the forest.

The album takes a new direction with 'L'Ultimo Grido Di Galeria', the band's poignant witness to the village of Galeria Antica near Rome which was abandoned in the early 19th Century after being zapped by a malaria epidemic. According to legend a phantom minstrel by the name of Senz'affini returns every year on his white charger, and the sound of horse's hooves is echoed in a gallop rhythm during this track. A scene of picturesque desolation slowly emerges with jangling guitars, while impressionistic sound effects and distant cries convey the shadowy interpretation of unburied corpses in the zone of pestilence. This is grim stuff for sure, but appropriate enough subject matter for around the time of La Notte Nera when the album was released. In addition to the band's birthday falling in October this is also the month when the clocks go back and listening to Civico 23 is like turning the hands of time back to the halcyon days of prog rock circa nineteen-canteen. For all its untidiness and messiness this music is surely guaranteed to ring the chimes of heavy RPI- followers.

seventhsojourn | 4/5 |

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