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Hero - Hero CD (album) cover

HERO

Hero

 

Heavy Prog

3.05 | 36 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Igor91
4 stars I recently came across this obscure Italian band on YouTube and became intrigued enough to purchase the AMS/Vinyl Magic CD reissue. Hero was truly an oddity in their home country, sounding nothing like the progressive bands there. Perhaps that is why they traveled to Germany to play and record their sole LP. Not to say that they sounded exactly like Krautrock, but they certainly had more in common with that scene than with the scene in Italy.

There is a notable influence of the British heavy prog bands of the period, and they are categorized as such here on PA. However, to lump Hero in with the other heavy prog bands of that era would be unjust. They were an odd heavy prog band, and I'm sure that is why they found an audience in Germany.

Their self-titled album starts off with "Merry Go Round," a good, albeit fairly standard, heavy prog tune. The lack of bass in the mix is highly noticeable on this track, and takes away some of the power that it could have had. In parts the guitar wails some nice power chords that miss that extra "oomph" of a solid baseline. The bass is more pronounced on other tracks, thankfully. There is nice balance of soft and heavy on this song, something that is a nice signature throughout the disc. "Crumbs of a Day" follows, and starts off as a free-jazz influenced guitar jam, that eventually settles into a cool, dark song. The real turning point for the album comes with the third track, "Sunday Best." While everything was good up to this point, "Sunday Best" grabs my attention with opening with a xylophone, displaying more variety than the first two songs. "Seminar" and "Children's Game" are both really stellar heavy prog tunes in compact form.

The next tune of note is "Knock," which opens with some very avant-garde styled music and vocals, that, quite honestly, come off a bit annoying. But within a minute and a half, the song changes up and actually finishes quite strong. The next two songs, "Clapping And Smiling," and "Dew Drops" are on the longer side, and both showcase some interesting moments and solid interplay between the musicians. The album closes with the acoustic "Buzzards," complete with a somber spoken word section.

As mentioned in previous reviews here on PA, the lyrics are a bit baffling, being more like dark poetry than actual song lyrics. If you are one who really likes to pay attention to lyrics, this could be problematic for you. For me, lyrics are always secondary, and there is nothing here that is so bad that it is off-putting. Another critique would be that some of the songs are oddly structured. Some end abruptly, there are few real choruses, and there are many musical left turns throughout. Some reviewers have criticized Hero as sounding "amateur." While there are no virtuosos in the band, all are solid performers, and shine at certain moments on the album. In addition, the production is rather raw, which I feel gives the music a dark, rough edge, as opposed to sounding amateurish.

When I look back at my own critique of this LP, I'm tempted to give it a mere 3 stars. But, when I listen to this I really enjoy it, warts and all. "Hero" is kind of a flawed gem, in that, despite it's faults, it actually shines quite brightly. This obscure recording deserves to be heard and appreciated, and should please fans of heavy prog looking for something a bit different. I give it an official rating of 3.5 stars, and round it up to 4 to help garner this puppy a little more positive attention.

Igor91 | 4/5 |

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