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Antonius Rex - Neque Semper Arcum Tendit Rex  CD (album) cover

NEQUE SEMPER ARCUM TENDIT REX

Antonius Rex

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

2.88 | 17 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars The first album of Antonio Bartoccetti and Doris Norton's music to appear under the Antonius Rex name, `Neque Semper Arcum Tendit Rex' is full of the same plodding gothic church organ and downbeat guitar work found on the Jacula albums, however some of the emotional hypnotic and trance like elements present on those albums have been replaced by a wild, unhinged and very deranged doomy sound. After the second piece, most of the tracks flow into each-other, creating one long nightmarish soundtrack. It's an immersive and haunting work, full of passionate playing and wild original experimentation.

As striking as Bartoccetti's guitar playing is on this album, the album truly belongs to Doris Norton's endless variety of darkly classical piano, trippy Moog workouts and spacey synth effects playing all over the top of her dominating organ playing. Special mention must also go to Albert Goodman's baffling drum-work, full of strange busy fills and over-powering random aggressive attacks. The combination of all these players creates a very dizzying, colourful and occasionally messy sound that perfectly fits the music.

Side A's title track has a creeping suspense dominated by Doris Norton's spectral organ and piano that floats amongst howling winds, Latin chanting and long drawn out heavy guitar riffs. It's a slow and unwinding piece that constantly builds in tension and uneasy fear, with a trademark wailing guitar solo from Bartocetti over unrestrained and oppressive organ in the finale. The organ has an occasionally flat and bent sound on `Pactus' that, while starting off as a typical Rex track, suddenly diverts into a lovely jazzy fusion styled 70's Santana-like piece with evocative lead guitar dancing around spacey keyboards and gentle percussion. The track is very tastefully played and surprisingly loose and restrained for this band - even subtle! It's actually one of my favourite overall pieces of music by this artist, even though it sounds very little like anything else they ever performed. Beginning as a creepy haunted house sounding piece, `In Hoc Singo Vinces' has lovely ghostly piano tip-toing around sinister organ, before Bartoccetti launches into some supremely sludgy guitar riffs over some of the dirtiest murmuring bass pushed way to the back trying to break through the mire. Stabbing organ notes and hard drumming smash down on the listener in the wild violent finale.

Dizzying synth solos throughout create a disorientating sense of feeling throughout Side B's `Non Fiat Voluntas Tua' with very addictive descending downbeat guitar riffs and booming percussion. Doris Norton sounds literally possessed on this one, with her endless swirling piano, stalking church organ and psychedelic moog solos. The centerpiece of the album might be the highly disturbing `Devil Letter', an experimental piece that alternates between dark music and evil story- telling. Chasing footsteps, creaking doors, pounding walls, tormented wailing and most frightening of all, a gnashing snarling devilish beast are interspersed with a lovely gothic choir and grand organ themes at the start and end. This exceedingly unpleasant piece is fascinating and quite original, very surreal, and gives this section of the album a breathless and predatory tone. Finale `Aquilla' is merely more of the same Black Sabbath/Iommi riffs with some slightly more dramatic piano and busy drumming before a shredding Bartocetti guitar solo. It does have quite a successful tension, but doesn't really offer much different to earlier parts of the album, and it ends very abruptly.

Fans of the earlier Jacula albums and doomy atmospheric gothic music will be right at home with this one.Others who don't like those albums will know to stay right away. I personally find all the Bartochetti/Norton releases endlessly intoxicating and daring, full of grand musical themes. Each of their albums stand as an original and unique statement, and I'm constantly drawn to the moody soundscapes and gloomy ambience of their work. Even though I don't have as strong an emotional response to this one as I do the first Jacula album, `Neque Semper Arcum Tendit Rex' is still another highly satisfying and moving work all the same.

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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