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L' Albero Del Veleno - Tale Of A Dark Fate CD (album) cover


L' Albero Del Veleno


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.06 | 81 ratings

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5 stars Italian group L'Albero del Veleno (The Poison Tree) released a well-received debut back in 2013 entitled `Le Radici del Male' (`The Roots of Evil'), a cinematic horror-influenced work of gloomy Goblin-styled pieces. It was a superb first effort from a talented bunch of young musicians, but now it almost seems like a mere practice run for what they've delivered here four years later! 2017's `Tale of a Dark Fate' is a fully instrumental rock opera told in two acts, conveying the stories of Hypnos and Thanatos, two siblings of ancient Greek mythology that reside in the underworld, and it holds all the moodiness and mystery of that legendary above-mentioned horror soundtrack group, but L'Albero del Veleno go much further. Eerie electronics have been grafted with the constant ravishing piano, sweeping classical flavours and darting flute of so many classic vintage Italian progressive acts, and that elegance and sophistication is even further enhanced by violin, viola, strings and choir.

The first act is a five part suite that conveys the story of Hypnos - the personification of sleep - and his three children Morpheus, Phobetor and Phantasos. After the opening prelude's spectral electric piano punctured by heavy staccato guitar blasts and bashing drum stop/starts, `Morpheus' (Shape) is a slinking Goblin-like theme of gurgling electronics, slithering bass and alluring violins. With snaking electric guitar soloing, infernal Mellotron choirs and elegant symphonic synth passages rising in dark majesty, there's an urgent and unexpected up-tempo sprint in the middle before a shadowy come-down in the climax. This sublime opening section sets much of the template for the rest of the disc, but there's still plenty of surprises to come.

`Phobetor' (Fear), the personification of nightmares, is a darkly reflective symphonic theme that grows in intensity and hair-tearing desperation, and `Interlude I - Momus' (a sharp-tongued spirit of unfair criticism and the embodiment of satire and mockery) is a creeping piano and viola/violin duet. The slowly unfolding spacey shimmering guitars of `Phantasos' (Imagination, Fantasy) and scratchy flute are laced with the lightest of dusty eastern flavours, but monolith-sized slab-like pounding primal drumming and grinding guitars in the second half remind of Antonio Bartoccetti's early Jacula albums (and yes, there really is a fourteen second `Interval' of silence on track 6 before the second act kicks in!).

The remaining five pieces that comprise `Act II - Thanatos' encompass the goddesses of fate and destiny, the Three Fates (or Moirai) who spin (Clotho), draw out (Lachesis) and cut (Atropos) the thread of Life. `Clotho', authority of major decisions and essentially controller of people's lives, rumbles with stalking relentless bass behind floating ambient synth washes before being thrashed with lively drums and gleefully malevolent piano stabbings, and the piece eventually reveals two ghostly swooning reprising themes and some restrained orchestration. `Lachesis', who determines destiny, is predominantly frantic, aggressive and full of momentum. `Interlude II - Ananke' opens with aching classical violin and a touch of reaching Post Rock-flavoured slivers straining in the background before lifting with pulsing bass and strangled guitars to convey the inevitability and fate that the title of the piece conjures up.

One for the older prog fans, `Atropos', who brings an end to life, is a delirious whirl of driving Hammond organ soloing, huffing flute, wild guitar tantrums and sauntering dirty grooves that call to mind so many proper RPI groups of old! The `Postlude' for `Moros', a being of impending doom who drives mortals to their ultimate fate, then closes the set on a starkly beautiful and confronting piano, violin and viola reflection that is quite a daring and sobering way to end the disc. It's perhaps a shame that the piece was emulated on an electric piano instead of using the real thing, but the unexpected off note at the very end leaves quite an unnerving unease in the air...

`Tale of a Dark Fate' runs a welcome vinyl length that makes it easy to replay, retains a strong melodicism in its instrumental themes, and proves to be exactly the kind of richly detailed and grand work that benefits from further study and reading into the inspirations and backgrounds to the music presented. If a mix of the darker bands from Italy like the Goblin-related families, Three Monks, Il Segno del Comando and Antonius Rex (as well as similarly influenced worldwide acts such as Zombi and Zoltan) crossed with the most glorious classical-laced Italian progressive music sounds intriguing, this lavish and wildly ambitious spectral pantomime is one of the Italian progressive music highlights of 2017 for those who like to walk in the darkness, and is ample proof of L'albero del Valeno stepping up in a big way.

Five stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 5/5 |


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