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La Maschera Di Cera - Il Grande Labirinto CD (album) cover

IL GRANDE LABIRINTO

La Maschera Di Cera

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.13 | 124 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Il Grande Labirinto' - La Maschera Di Cera (8/10)

Even first judging by the album cover alone, it is clear that 'Il Grande Labirinto' may see La Maschera Di Cera wander into stranger territory than they did with their self-titled debut, an album I found myself quite impressed with. All the same, 'La Maschera Di Cera' did not see this skilled quintet modify any formulas that the Italian progressive rock scene had not already refined to a fine science. 'Il Grande Labirinto' holds true to the band's origins in vintage 1970's-style prog, but the stakes are raised with a few quirks and surprises along the way. Although La Maschera Di Cera's debut was fairly easy to pinpoint as a traditional RPI record, here we see the group take a more challenging, and potentially rewarding route.

Now just eeking over the hour mark, La Maschera Di Cera has really toned up their ambition with 'Il Grande Labirinto'. In the years since its release, it seems to have earned its throne as the most respected of the band's accomplishments, and when compared to my previous experience with the band's debut, I am seeing this band outdo themselves. Even so, this more left-of-centre approach to the vintage prog sound is not executed quite well enough to merit that fabled 'masterpiece' rating for me that many have given it. 'Il Grande Labirinto' is an overall improvement from what they did before, but I am finding that, in their expansion to new sounds, they have sacrificed some of the immediate charm that first endeared me to the debut. Regardless, it goes without saying that 'Il Grande Labirinto' is an album that begs for a listener to pursue it in-depth; with a two part epic bookending the album that stretches well over half an hour, there are no holds barred with the band's approach this time.

Comparisons to Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso may still be made, although La Maschera Di Cera do seem to have broken out of that pure 70's worship mindset here. All sounds heard here are those of the classic 70's Italian prog, but the music often focuses on dark atmosphere over musicianship and traditional composition. La Maschera Di Cera still retain their penchant for letting their epics run wild and loose, although with the less solo dense performance, the music becomes easier to settle into. This time around, keyboardist Agostino Macor deserves the highest props, for delivering both lush rhythm orchestrations and tastefully energetic synth solos. As was the case for the debut, the guitars here feel a little too subdued, often letting Fabio Zuffanti's throbbing bass work take over. While not a fault in the music perse, it would have been nice to hear the sound of the guitar find a place in this music.

Although 'Il Grande Labirinto' does not quite reach the plateau of being one of my favourite RPI records ever, I would say that it's damned close, and may even become one of them, should it grow much more on me. La Maschera Di Cera are evidently an incredibly technically skilled act, but I was not expecting them to incorporate such a tasty dose of atmosphere into their music as they have done here. This is an album that becomes more enjoyable as the various ideas become more familiar to the listener.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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