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Ad Maiora - Ad Maiora ! CD (album) cover


Ad Maiora


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.75 | 43 ratings

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4 stars Ad Maiora proves that the ever progressing Italian scene keeps on giving, perhaps even going through a boom stage as recent releases have undoubtedly proven, acts like Il Giardino Onirico, Aurora Lunare, Laviantica, Progenesi, Unreal City, Nodo Gordiano, Fabio Zuffanti, Mad Fellaz and many others. The Italian scene always seems to produce copious amounts in spurts that are then followed by quiet spells where nothing much happens until the next eruption! Hey between Etna and Vesuvius, the ragazzi know their volcanoes! These older Milanese gentlemen like to lather up a thick mousse of delectable sounds , showcasing genre bending styles , going from Neo, to Symphonic and then RPI with little hesitation , making the PA pigeonholing experience another game of pinging the pong from one group of collabs to another and then back! The players are all exceptional craftsmen, guitarist Flavio Carnovali carves a mean trail, as well as providing wicked solos, while keyboardist Sergio Caleca unleashes an arsenal of classic keyboards including some delightful clavinet and electric piano, amid the slippery synth work and the occasional brilliant piano and organ. The tight rhythm section bruises nicely, keeping the beat propulsive and purposeful, as both Moreno Piva and drummer Enzo Giardina show off some stellar chops.

"Diatriba" is a 5 minute+ rocking appetizer, a curtain rising instrumental antipasto full of perky sounds and rousing melodies, yet really has that 'opening statement 'feel to it, a perfect overture. Booming bass, roaming organ messaging and swirling synths permit the raging guitar to stamp its brooding grace over the main theme.

But "Sugo Dance" really shines brightly, a romping slab of shimmering masculine prog, no hint of vocals anywhere, only blasting notes, hard and well, thank you! Little Beethoven influence is elevated with some solid propulsion, as well a playful predilection for mood and atmosphere. Caleca spreads a wide variety of layers, hint of glittering harpsichord one moment, a fluttering of e-piano and explosive synth warbling the next. The fret board also provides serious input, shrieking nicely along, toying with his synth partner when needed. A wholly satisfying and highlight track.

The moody "Dream" envisions a slightly more experimental elegance, lots of technical paralleling notes between the organ, the axe and the bass, as the drums slams hard, inviting a clean guitar solo from the guitar man. Five minutes of adventure and technical prowess that will inspire the musicians out there, looking for a stormy fix.

Things veer into a more symphonic realm, with little dabs of electronica (the bubbling synth syndrome) a voracious bass and the introduction of vocalist Paolo Callioni, who has an accent that is entirely palatable. Thus, "Eclissi Orientale" has a Saharan feel, with axe man Carnevali giving a splendid account for himself on the extended solo spot, a mirage of sinuous themes reflect from the gleaming sunny arrangement.

The intense "Nulla Intenso" has some jazz-rock leanings, seasoned with some devilish piano motifs and some slight dissonance in the guitar playing, very cool and highly addictive stylings that do not hesitate to explore beyond the mundane and strive to create new adventures in progland. A double tracked guitar solo hints at a Wishbone Ash-styled dual attack that elicits immediate mental applause.

Mellower fields of interest appear on the bluesier "Strange", which has a delectable classic groove, as if a combination of Traffic, Wishbone Ash and Trion decided to invite Callioni to sing as an invited guest. Upon repeated spins, this song really took on a life of its own, a successful modern blues tune that has charm and a superb guitar solo that searches out and screams for attention. Nothing overtly technical, just very, very well done.

The nearly 11 minute RPI epic "Menate" again seeks to torture the formulaic mind into submission by constructing a mesmerizing epic that is both dark and technically aggressive a la Goblin, the snarly bass front, center, obsessive and deranged as the other instruments jump on board and hammer away at the opportunity, a glittering organ rampage escorts weird synth screeches, while the wide guitar crashes into darkness and the most somber reflections. This is the creative zenith of this debut album, a colossal slice of well-performed prog, with stratospheric imagery and volatile, risk-taking interplay. The final 3 minutes in particular have this 'wow' stamp all over it, powerful, intrepid and chivalrous.

A reworking of the classic George Gershwin "Summertime" throws the listener for a loop, such a well-known lullaby , redone with Italian bravado and a race car mentality, as Carnovali scours that fretboard with tremendous appeal , Piva bopping like some mad jazz bassist and Callioni adding the voice to the famed lyrics.

The 8 minute "Corolla" seeks out more traditional RPI design, a possessed bass searing the road ahead, synths bubbling like some volcanic lava, playful soloing from the entire crew, dabs of violin and flute (all from the keys) simply adds to the fascination.

The exhilarating finale is no shabby filler, "No More War" proposes a rebelling rhythm, scathing lyrics about the futility of man-made conflict, a musical platform for bassist Piva to really sparkle here, hints of Tony Reeves in keeping it darn simple and texturally fluid, thus giving the free reins for Caleca and Carnovali to let their hair down (err.. they are balding 50 year olds, Thomas!). This is not technical math prog, just damn effective prog of the highest caliber, devastating and notable. I can't help of thinking of Manfred Mann's "Father of Day, Father of Night", sharing a common intense bass theme that pummels the mind. Spectacular !

This is a dazzling debut album, full of master craftsmanship, thematic creativity, totally memorable melodies and backing rhythms that once again prove vividly that Italian prog is fine and healthy, unlike their plodding economy, piss-poor politics and neurotic soccer team. The art work is so-so, could have been a tad more appropriately design conscious but hey, the music reigns supreme!

4.5 Banchettos

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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