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Metamorfosi - Inferno CD (album) cover

INFERNO

Metamorfosi

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.98 | 172 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Progressive rock's dirty roots aren't dug up too often; it's hard to say what directions the genre would have taken had different aspects been explored. The mid-to-late 60s/ early 70s saw a lot of crazy sonics come and go as the newly liberated musical minds tried to put sounds to the odd things going on in the world and in their heads. COMUS, for one, shows us a much different prog than we're accustomed to; METAMORFOSI takes us on a different path, but just as dark and dangerous.

Cathedral organ, fuzzy bass, operatic vocals and compressed-to-death drums are the rule here, a grand but murky feeling throughout. A lot of early studio production tricks and effects are applied to the instruments, sometimes with interesting results but more often a bit distracting (or downright annoying). Thick, dense,dark verby sounds- a lot of emphasis on the bass and low mids, but that may just be the analog recording. Every sound is saturated- not many people were distorting their drums on purpose back then, except for poor crazy Joe Meek. Production-wise, it seems more late-60s than 70s- I'm used to hearing more clear mixes from the 70s italian bands. I find myself wishing I could hear some things better (like the pianos in "Malebolge" and "Razzisti"), but overall it has a warm wooly tone which is sometimes nice, in a retro way, like the early MOODY BLUES recordings.

"Introduzione - Senza Oscura" very heavy and spooky, like a Hammer film soundtrack but more groovy- "Porta Dell'inferno" continues the gothic thread, and once again I have to make plans to learn italian because I really would like to know what he's singing. "Caronte" turns up the funky-psychedelic sound a bit, and "Spacciatore Di Droga" disappears into noises before returning with a bangin' piano section- that kid can play! Morose organ heralds the next segment, a pretty flute and (dulcimer? harpsichord?) arrangement that would not sound out of place on "Atom Heart Mother". More space synth effect and tinkling piano follows, which may start to take a toll on unwary ears. "Lussuriosi" plinks it's way into your heart and moans harmonically like an alien graveyard. "Avari" (is that italian or Tolkien?) has a big vocal and synth solo, and just fades out when it starts to get going. "Violenti" has a good frantic synth-based opening, and then gets strange and sparse under the vocal melody. The organ brings us back into song territory, which is basically more of the end of "Avari" that I had wished was longer. "Malebolge" is the most theatrical vocal yet (a tough competition) and the instruments skip and hop in a psychedelic fashion. "Sfruttatori" explores more aggresive territory, something like ELP's first album if it had been produced by Joe Meek. By the time it resolves into "Razzisti", most of the tender- eared will have deserted us. Too bad, because there's some cool keyboard moments along the way, and a freaky martial death-march section that lead straight to the devil: "Lucifero (Politicanti)", a sort of diablical fanfare sung seemingly with fists clenched. "Conclusione" finishes the cycle with more rolling drums and big organs and one wacky synth.

So what have we all learned? Well, it's a small few that will truly dig this album, man. Production impediments aside, the simplicity of the playing (for the most part) won't satisfy instrumental spotters, and the 'Dante-meets-Dracula A.D. 1972' goofy gothic feel will turn off many others. I like it; it's got the same ragged, adventurous naivete that characterizes many experimental psychedelic albums but a harder hitting (albeit limited) musical palette- if you picture IRON BUTTERFLY doing an italian opera, you're getting warm. It's more outstanding as a period piece than fun listening, and it's not likely to be cited as an influence for many people, so despite my positive attitude towards it I can only rationalize two stars at best.

James Lee | 2/5 |

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