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Daal - Decalogue Of Darkness CD (album) cover

DECALOGUE OF DARKNESS

Daal

 

Eclectic Prog

4.28 | 90 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars For over a decade now, the duo of Italian multi-instrumentalists Davide Guidoni and Alfio Costa have been honing a distinctly modern sounding mix of dark electronics, doom-laden symphonic grandness, senses-shredding avant-garde experimentation and neo-classical sophistication under the Daal banner, each new release consecutively raising the bar even further for their always high-quality and intelligent works. But 2018 has brought not only one, but two superior releases from the pair (or three if you want to include Davide's superb electronic side-project B-Rain's `Echoes from the Undertow' CD as well!), and rather than being a double album merely split into separate discs, they are instead two completely stand-alone works that hold their own unique sounds and identities, even if both are instantly recognizable as Daal. The first is `Decalogue of Darkness', and it is the most lavish and darkly articulate defining symphonic musical statement so far from Costa and Guidioni.

`Decalogue...' is a collection of ten fully instrumental shadowy symphonic pieces simply labelled parts I-X (although they are separate pieces, not all flowing into each-other), and in many ways it proves to be Daal's love letter to the glorious age of grand vintage progressive rock, just grafted to a heavier modern sound and without ever sounding like a tired retro throwback. It also joins the ranks of those particularly cherished albums that Mellotron freaks absolutely worship - Schicke Fuhrs Frohling's `Symphonic Pictures', Quarteto 1111's `Onde, Quando...' and Anglagard's `Epilog' - all step forward please! - seeing as how `D.o.D' is practically slathered in endless washes of the instrument! You want to completely drown in the 'Tron?! Step right this way...

A spectral pantomime of eerie electronic tip-toes patter around `Chapter I's infernally searing Mellotron strings, grinding guitar blasts courtesy of frequent Daal collaborator Ettore Salati of Redzen/SoulenginE/Ex-The Watch, Alfio's stalking piano, slithering bass from Tilion and Prowlers musician Roberto `Bobo' Aiolfi and Davide's bashing drum menace, this intense opener being very Goblin and L'Albero del Veleno-like indeed!

Hmm, in prog-terms, is just over sixteen minutes long enough for a piece to be considered a true epic?! Well, either yes or no, `Chapter II' is exactly that, and here the duo offer an elegant showcase of grandiose Mellotron themes all serenading each- other in between bursts of Anglagard-esque strangling n' twisting guitar runs and a touch of King Crimson-like ominous majesty. A pounding oppressive beat over ghostly piano and the dirtiest of scratchy Mellotron reeks of Italian occult legends Jacula/Antonius Rex at the start, the icier reflective moments remind of melancholic acts like White Willow and Landberk, and the entire piece takes on a crushing, overwhelming intensity...and just when you think it's winding down, they bring it all back for a final feral storm of wailing guitar n' Tron noise that would make King Crimson envious - phew!

The shorter `Chapter III' could easily have popped up on an Anekdoten album with its downbeat piano interludes constantly blasted by defiant Mellotron bursts and brisk up-tempo sprints, the suffocating `Chapter IV' could be an `Islands'-era Crimson outtake with its skittering percussion rattles and creeping bass murmurs, and `Chapter V' is a mournful introspective theme (one of the strongest on the disc) that sounds like a lost Giallo horror film soundtrack from the Seventies.

Achingly beautiful piano reflections and heartfelt guitar ruminations are confronted by torrid Mellotron slivers throughout `Chapter VI', slab-heavy guitar riffing, vacuum-like distortion and jazzy discordant mania is met with ethereal ambient synth breaks throughout `Chapter VII', and there's an aggressive brooding menace that permeates all of `Chapter VIII' (just listen to that putrid mud-thick bass vomiting throughout the middle!). The ghostly ballad `Chapter IX' is dreamy and shimmers with unease (and nice that the band keeps the piece very intimate), and ten-minute closer `Chapter X', with its cross of regal guitar strains, reflective synths and achingly melancholic piano fleetingly calls to mind classic era Genesis and brings a sweeping orchestral-like magnificence (with some brief tasty up-tempo bursts in the middle too), and it's a relief that the duo resist the urge here to make a lot more racket and violence.

Although it probably didn't need to run for seventy-one minutes, and some listeners might ask for the first time `Can there be too much Mellotron?' (response from the prog masses likely being any combination of `No!/Heathen!/Off with his head!'), there is no denying the sheer power and richness of refinement throughout `Decalogue of Darkness'. Some may find the first half so blustery and bombastic that it proves overwhelming, but the second reveals itself to be even stronger with some deceptively lovely and incredibly strong musical themes rising up throughout. All together though, symphonic prog works don't come much more luxurious, inspired and crowd-pleasing than `Decalogue of Darkness', and it's another superb addition to the Daal catalogue.

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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