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

IN HOC SIGNO

Ingranaggi Della Valle

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.03 | 263 ratings

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MELNIBONÉ
3 stars Young band from Rome Ingranaggi Della Valle is part of the New Wave of Italian progressive rockers? although some might dispute labelling them RPI, since their debut album veers quite often to Fusion and flirts with Metal and Funk. On the other hand, it doesn't mean that IDV ignore altogether what they owe to their symphonic forebears from the previous century. As a matter of fact, it would almost be impossible to do so, given the number of musicians featured on "In Hoc Signo". First, there's the band itself : I. Leone (vocals) M. Liberati (keys). F. Gonnellini (guitars & vocals), M. Gennarini (violin & vocals) S, Colucci (drums & percussion). Then come the guests appearing on certain pieces : M. Bruno (bass), E. Arrigo (vocals & bass), S. Massimi (various types of bass), L. Colucci (speech), F. Projetti (classical guitar) and B. Miglietta (vocals). And then, we have the "special" guests : M. Olsson from Anglagard (drums, percussion, synth & noises), D. Jackson from VdGG (sax & flute) and pop singer A. S. Scutti (vocals). By any standards, when there are so many musicians and/or vocalists on an album, it usually means that we're in for a treat, in that the music on display will most surely feature a rich and wide palette.

That said, before getting into the musical core of the album, I must say that the concept explored in "In Hoc Signo" is not necessarily one that I would've expected on a new band's first release. The album refers to historical facts surrounding the launching of the first Crusade (1096-1099) ; "In Hoc Signo" is Latin meaning "By this sign (the Cross, you shall win)", even though the Norman knights of the times would have said it in low Latin: "Deus lo vult" ("God Wills It"). From the notes (the only ones that are written in English) within the booklet, we learn that the songs are not about the mustering of armies, the long journey from Italian shores to the Holy Land and the walls of Jerusalem, but they are rather focused on "the development of a modern social conscience in a period dominated by a savage and intolerant individualism. A time where a "Deus Lo Vult" hid more than a heroic action of defense or a sacrifice in the sign of the Cross. A time that's not so far away." All of which make for quite an intriguing and challenging lyrical endeavour? but one that you won't access to unless you understand Italian (which I do not, at least not enough to get a clear picture of the exact content of each song).

The album offers a bit more than an hour (63:55) of music. Apart from the "Introduzione" (0:15) and "Fuga da Amman" (5:56), the nine other pieces are songs. That said, the lyrics within some of them are relatively short as is the case with "Mare in Tempesta" (3:17), "Kairuv'an" (6:09), "Masqat" (5:16) and "Jangala Mem" (6:47), leaving therefore ample space for the music to expand. The other songs range from 5:49 ("Cavalcata") to 9:34 ("Finale"), with "Via Ignatia" clocking at 5:41, "L'Assedio di Antiochia" at 8:11 and "Il vento del tempo" at 7:00. So, all in all, despite the serious and dramatic "concept" (we might even say "context" in this case) underlining the album, IDV have given themselves plenty of elbow room to create, develop and offer us a meaningful opus, where words have their rightful place, but not to the expense of music.

Since other reviewers have been through each songs thoroughly enough, it would be a waste of time and space to go through that all over again. So I'll move right away to my conclusions. "In Hoc Signo" is modern RPI, in that it's edgy, often heavy, with frequent jazz frenzy, so dense dense at times that you might be wondering where it will lead to. Tempo changes abound, in par with a wide range of atmospheres from delicate to frantic, from almost metal to eerie, and melodically romantic to power funk. Here and there, there are echoes of iconic Italian bands of the '70s (even those that were short-lived), but IDV are no copy cats. There's a feel throughout that connects these young musicians to their forebears, but it's more a matter of attitude and a desire to push the envelope than producing (or re-producing) the readily identifiable sound of a bygone era.

"In Hoc Signo" is good from start to finish, and very good at times. But, overall, Ingranaggi Della Valle has still some work to do in order to achieve a distinctive, original sound they can call their own, whatever means or direction this may imply. Granted, their debut album is more than promising, but still the band's musical identity must be refined. We'll see how it will all turn out on their next album. And I really hope there will be a follow-up to that brilliant start.

3 well oiled cogs

MELNIBONÉ | 3/5 |

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