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NUOVA ERA

Nuova Era

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.81 | 13 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

ozzy_tom
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Nuova Era is definitely my favorite band from so-called second wave of Italian symphonic rock scene. Compared with other formations included in this category, they started career pretty early and recorded first album in 1988 ("L'ultimo Viaggio") when retro-prog was definitely still very unfashionable. Until 1995 Nuova Era released another 3 studio albums and then they called it a day in 1997. Thankfully in XXI century band's leader Walter Pini (keyboardist) decided to resurrect Nuova Era moniker together with two new musicians: Guglielmo Mariotti & Davide Guidoni, who were previously playing' in prog-rock trio Taproban.

In 2010 Nuova Era prepared self-titled compilation which includes 3 tracks recorded by this new line-up (and originally placed on Colossus Projects' "The Divine Comedy" albums), 3 demos/remakes recorded by previous incarnations of the band and 3 live versions of Nuova Era's early material (concert from 1989). Maybe this description doesn't promise anything spectacular, but I can assure you that "Nuova Era" offers much more than it seems.

1. "Lasciate Ogni Speranza...Voi Ch'entrate" - albums kicks off from a high note! Opening composition (originally included on "Dante's Inferno: The Divine Comedy Part I" box-set) is the heaviest thing I've ever heard being played by this band. Walter Pini's blasting Hammond organ and Moog battles are truly magnificent, but I'd like to especially mention extremely catchy Grand piano passages which work very well above those thrilling mellotron eruptions. All in all of those keyboards instruments create unbelievable suspense & truly horrifying tension like from a horror movie (it was meant to describe hell after all!). Emerson inspired organ solo in the middle is also terrifying, but saxophone (played by guesting Alessandro Papotto) freak-outs near the end are too noisy and distractful for me (but it's only small complaint).

2. "Canto VII" - similar in tone with the previous track, "Canto VII" (originally included on "Dante's Purgatorio: The Divine Comedy Part II" box-set) is another highly enjoyable piece of music. Maybe even slightly darker and more sinister sounding. Extremely melodic, up-tempo piano and organ passages are the main entertaining factor here, but I also have to mention double electric guitar attack (Guglielmo Mariotti & guest Salvo Lazzara) which sounds truly crazy (some distorted, dis-harmonic effects but everything restrained, no heavy metal here :-). Anyway once again I have to praise Pini for his extraordinary, perfectly arranged organ solo here!

3. "Canto II" - last instrumental recorded by new line-up (originally placed on "Dante's Paradiso: The Divine Comedy Part II" box-set) is the mellowest and probably the weakest one compared with preceding bombastic killers. But do not misunderstand me, "Canto II" is still great. This time except his usual organ, Moog, piano and mellotron, Walter adds also clavinet (harpsichord?) to the mix.

4. "Dopo L'infinito (Remake Version)" - 1997 remake version of Nuova Era's suite (original placed on "Dopo L'infinito', 1989) is surprisingly superior to its original! It's a shame that this line-up wasn't able to release any albums back in 90s 'cos especially Riccardo Vello's voice is truly remarkable. While Alex Camaiti sang very good in all first 3 LPs of the band, I have to admit that Vello's vocal skills are even better. Anyway as I said this version of "Dopo L'infinito" sounds better than original (which I also love of course!) not only because of different singing style but mainly because of much more advanced equipment used in 90s by Walter Pini. While in 80s he still had to use digital keyboard emulating organ sounds (not so bad, but far from "real thing"), here he already owned real Hammond and it makes a difference! Organ runs sound really mean and gritty on remake version, and there are much more of them. Moog, mellotron and this incredibly catchy clavinet sound perfect too. While the whole structure of the epic isn't so much different, vintage gear & more capable vocals helped a lot to enhance it. However lack of electric guitarist in this line-up maybe a mistake for lovers of original version. Anyway "Dopo L'infinito" remains a wonderful symphonic prog-rock suite equally influenced by RPI scene as well as British classics as ELP or Yes.

5. "Io E Il Tempo (Demo Version)" - demo of "Io E Il Tempo" suite (its final version was released in 1992 on "Io E Il Tempo" album) isn't much different from album's final version and I don't see too much sense in including it on this compilation, but for newcomers it's surely another highlight here. Tons of analog keyboards, fuzzed guitars in the background and often screamy vocals, all of it and much more is here for you!

6. "L'ultimo Viaggio (Swing Version)" - short excerpt from "L'ultimo Viaggio" mini epic (originally on "L'ultimo Viaggio", 1988) re-recorded as some kind of swing/light-jazz instrumental. Sounds odd, but in fact it's really entertaining. Walter's piano is very joyful and up-tempo all the way through, but my favorite part is harmonium solo, not an usual instrument in prog-rock world.

7. "Cattivi Pensieri (Live Version)" - live recordings unfortunately don't sound too good here. Most of the time mix is just too noisy, synthesizers too loud and high-pitched, while the guitar is too heavy and almost overshadows Pini's keyboard work. But I suppose all of these flaws are caused by poor recording devices used on this particular concert. Anyway "Cattivi Pensieri" live sounds much more metallic than original placed on band's debut. Sound quality is muddled, by you can clearly hear Alex Camaiti's hard edged guitar riffing. It's not that bad, but prefer original by far.

8. "La Tua Morte Parla (Live Version)" - I didn't like original version included on Nuova Era's debut and I don't like it here even more. Such raw-sounding version of this over-experimental track is big tast of patience even for such long-time prog-rock lovers like me. 10-minutes of very noisy half-baked solos, sound effects, rough vocals and non-melodic synth passages. Was it unsuccessful attempt on Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso or King Crimson style of prog? I don't know, but I'm sure that it's just not the style of these guys, they should stick to mix of melodic RPI and ELPish keyboard-driven symphonic music as they usually do. BTW, why did they directly steal sound collage "E5150" recorded by Black Sabbath and incorporate as intro to "La Tua Morte Parla"? It really sound almost the same!

9. "Epilogo (Live Version)" - my favorite live recording. Not as noisy as previous two. "Epilogo" is a well-written prog song, led by passionate vocals and atmospheric organ waves. Guitar/synthesizer interludes in the second part of the song sounds very interesting for me too.

"Nuova Era" compilation can be considered as a very good album for people who wish to start exploring this band's music. I'm sure that it will give them quite clear presentation of Nuova Era's style and convince them to check their studio releases as well. In general it's recommended for Italian prog-rock fans and keyboard-drenched symphonic prog aficionados who also like such bands like ELP, Trace or Refugee. If you like this music you should also check another band from Italy called Taproban. There are many similarities between Nuova Era and Taproban.

Best tracks: "Lasciate Ogni Speranza...Voi Ch'entrate", "Canto VII" & "Dopo L'infinito (Remake Version)"

4 stars from ozzy_tom

ozzy_tom | 4/5 |

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