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Hero - Hero CD (album) cover

HERO

Hero

 

Heavy Prog

3.16 | 21 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

coasterzombie
4 stars After seeing Hero on the Nurse With Wound List earlier this week, I decided to take a chance on an album that has as many detractors as it does fans...boy, am I glad I did. Hero's singular eponymous album is strange, ridiculously heavy, morose and awesome. Even after listening to it only a few times now, I can confidently say Hero is excellent, if not essential for Heavy Prog collectors. It is a stretch to affiliate Hero with Rock Progressivo Italiano, as only two members of the group hailed from Italy, and the band was based in Germany. But I don't hear much Krautrock influence; by and large, Hero is much more melodic and song-based than anything from Can or Amon Duul II, but at times does skew slightly bizarre. This is probably most evident in Robert Deller's vocals: Not quite English, but not exactly German either. The British-born keyboardist definitely has a distinctive voice, which at times can annoy and confuse the listener. But it is the music that warrants most praise here; to categorize Hero as merely good and non-essential does not do the album justice.

The album begins with "Merry Go Round," as some cymbal flourishes and guitar noodling slither behind Deller's lyric. Guitarist/bassist Massimo Pravato is the star of this show in my opinion. Perhaps his untimely death in 1973 only adds to the mystique of his playing, but his technique is quite singular and unusual. It is kind of like a cross between Tony Iommi and Michele Zarrilo from Semiramis, with some Greg Ginn thrown in for good measure. "Crumbs of a Day" show him in a frantic light, as if he were in some guitar note playing contest to see who could clear the room fastest. "Sunday Best" is the crown jewel of the entire album. The intro featuring vibes reminds me a lot of Patto, only much, much darker. While the song does take a while to make its point, the payoff is huge as the last 90 seconds is a powerful ensemble realization - which ends abruptly. "Seminar" is more organ-driven, and one of my least favorite tracks on the record. "Children's Game" returns to the sound that made "Sunday Best" so great, a workout in odd-meter with some nice drumming and a spacy, Crimsonian middle section.

"Knock" is hard to listen to. Avant-rock is the best way to describe it. Or, Rock In Opposition before such a thing existed. The last half of it is okay, but you may end up skipping the song before you get to it. "Clapping and Smiling," despite it's length, is really no more progressive than anything else on Hero, but is a nice change of pace from the heaviness thus far. "Dew-Drops" shows more experimentation and a creepy organ sound throughout; Pravato rescues the song from becoming too self-important. He also sees the album off in a gentle way on "Buzzard," a song that would not be out of place in a Wes Anderson film. I may eventually find Hero to be a masterpiece of prog, but for now, four stars will suffice.

coasterzombie | 4/5 |

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