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Nuova Era - Il Passo Del Soldato  CD (album) cover

IL PASSO DEL SOLDATO

Nuova Era

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.09 | 161 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I came to NUOVA ERA with a bias; I like Italian prog a lot, especially the classic 70's era. However, post-70's prog albums as a whole frequently failed to move me, and many of the Italian bands I liked either disappeared from the face of the earth or released disappointing albums from the 80's onward. So if you want to be melodramatic about it (and as a prog fan, you very well may have that tendency!), you could say I first listened to "Il Passo Del Soldato" on the veritable knife-edge between hope and despair.

I was non-plussed by the lack of guitars, sure, as well as the martial and political themes that tend to occur in Italian prog. Luckily, the keyboard playing is rarely overbearing in the traditional Emerson/ Wakeman virtuosity vein, though tonal comparisons are inevitable. The main sound is a heavy, distorted Hammond that begs comparison to early ELP, with threads of analogue synth leads and effects (and the occasional "Watcher"-style Mellotron) weaving in and out of the mix. Additionally, the battlefield atmosphere and Emersonian dissonances sent me running to "Tarkus", though the similarities are actually much fewer than the differences. Surprisingly, I found myself enjoying the acoustic piano sections somewhat less than on other keyboard-heavy albums; there's an almost staccato precision and minimalism of expression that reminds me more of a sequencer than an expressive human performer.

The rest of the band is often a supporting player to these keyboard layers; the rhythm section is talented but somewhat uninspired, and the vocals range from competent (his standard voice) to slightly grating (his higher-pitched yelps). Claudio Guerrini's tone and range frequently reminds me of DEUS EX MACHINA's Alberto Piras, but Claudio stays with the band and on-key more often- and oddly achives less distinctiveness and interest doing so. Which sums up the band's appeal nicely; in being less distinctive, they may be more broadly appealing...and in keeping the instrumentation more simple and hard-hitting, they may attract fans of the classic prog sound without giving them much new territory to explore. Are you a fan of ELP, LE ORME, and METAMORFOSI? You'll love this. At best, I score two out of three on that list, and have to withhold two stars for a certain lack of innovation and expressiveness.

James Lee | 3/5 |

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