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Metamorfosi - Inferno CD (album) cover

INFERNO

Metamorfosi

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.02 | 242 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars METAMORFOSI had formed all the way back in 1969 when lead vocalist Jimmy Spitaleri left Sicily and moved to Rome where he joined up with the musicians of the band I Frammenti which was just one of many beat groups of the era. Having a common interest in the burgeoning Italian prog scene, Spitaleri found promise in the virtuosic keyboard playing of Enrico Olivieri and METAMORFOSI was formed. It would take them three years to craft their debut "E Fu Il Sesto Giorno" which emerged in 1972 but the band was way behind the prog trends and still woefully weighed down by the 60s and found their rather uninspiring debut come and go without notice. Coming to the game at that late stage seemed like METAMORFOSI would be destined to go down as a mere footnote of the Italian bands that existed in the 70s but somehow they transmogrified into one of the most memorable bands of the 70s Italian scene with their sophomore release INFERNO.

Due to the lack of interest of the debut, there had been a lineup change. The three core members Jimmy Spitaleri continued as lead vocalist and flautist. Enrico Olivieri would continue as keyboardist and synthesizer abuser but gave up his role as second flautist. Roberto Turbitosi who only played bass on the debut continued to do so on INFERNO and picked up a secondary task as guitarist after the departure of guitarist Luciano Tamburro. Drummer Gianluca Herygers replaced Mario Natali and overall the quintet was whittled down to a quartet with more emphasis on the dynamic counterpoints of Spitaleri's dramatic operatic vocal style with Olivieri's virtuosic keyboard wizardry. While the guitar hadn't been completely removed, it had been practically silenced under the thundering roar of a more stellar percussive drive and keyboard prowess.


INFERNO (Hell in English) contained two side long suites that broke down into twelve tracks and conspired to create a darkened musical journey in the form of a rock opera that was based on Dantes "Divina Comedia (Divine Comedy)" which took the listener to the different levels of the afterlife, namely hell, purgatory and heaven. Dante's masterpiece has been a long lasting preeminent work of Italian literature created in the 1300s. METAMORFOSI takes some liberties in adapting the concept to modern days relating the concepts to the modern ills of society. Like most Italian prog bands of the 70s, all lyrics are sung in Italian where Jimmy Spitaleri proves he can play the big kids game with his impeccably perfect presentation on INFERNO with strong operatic bravado all the way through. The second star is the classically divine keyboard prowess of Olivieri who delivers some of prog's greatest keyboard runs on par with many of the greats of the day.

Through its album length run INFERNO gracefully wends and winds through many movements with creative feedback fueled uses of the Moog and seductive flute tag alongs to the exquisitely melodic developments that make INFERNO utterly addictive even upon first listen. While METAMORFOSI lacked the compositional technical workouts that more seasoned bands like PFM, Banco or Area could dish out in their sleep, METAMORFOSI focused instead on seductively melodic pop hooks and melded them into classically infused pieces of a larger puzzle. INFERNO runs as a single listening experience but each track holds up on its own with catchy melodic hooks that find all the extra creative layers conspire to unfold one of the 70s greatest Italian prog rock experiences with clever adaptations of the theme through the myriad percussive and synthesized sounds that spring forth from one passage to the next.

This one has been a slow burner for me. While the pop hooks are addictive, they almost seem too addictive as the album comes off as rather sugary sweet but once my gaze shifted from the irresistible melodies, the interesting dynamics and unfolding of the storyline come into play. It also may come down to how this album is experienced. I find it a masterpiece when played loud on my most recent remastered CD on the Belle Antique label however when i listen to this with the volume turned down or when i've heard it on YouTube, it seems to lose some of its magnificence. While considered a modern day classic, it wasn't exactly deemed so at the time of release like so many great gems of the past, however throughout the decades it has been agreed to be one of the greatest of the entire scene.

METAMORFOSI intended to release a sequel to INFERNO but while working on the followup, would disband and not return until 2004 when they at long last unleashed their next chapter of the tale in the form of "Paraiso." As good as INFERNO is, it seems that the lack of guitars makes it fall a little flat despite the majestic attempts to carry on without them. While the music is quite intricately interwoven with creative keyboard attacks, lyrical brilliance and an emanate vocal command, INFERNO falls a tad short of all the masterpiece tags i've seen heaped upon it. No doubt that it is an amazingly strong album that is lightyears beyond their debut, but it also falls short of the raised bar wizardry of the more technically gifted competition of the era. Had INFERNO emerged in 1971, this would have been one of the best albums of the year but coming out in 1973 at the very peak of the Italian scene, keeps it from excelling beyond the just excellent category. Still though, this is definitely one of the must have albums of the era.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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