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Il Ballo delle Castagne - Surpassing All Other Kings CD (album) cover

SURPASSING ALL OTHER KINGS

Il Ballo delle Castagne

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.49 | 5 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Doom laden heavy-psych-goth storytellers

Il Ballo delle Castagne is a Milan based collective led by the duo of vocalist/keyboardist/lyricist Vinz Aquarian and bassist Diego Banchero. They are assisted by musicians from other bands and on this album the supporting players are Carolina Cecchinato, Marina Larcher, Davide Bruzzi, Roberto Lucanato, Fernando Cherchi, and Carmen D'Onofrio. "Surpassing All Other Kings" was released in late 2012 and is the third installment in a trilogy by the group, the subject matter looking at universal mysteries of life and the universe.

"The last chapter of the trilogy is based on the first poem ever written in the whole history of mankind: "Gilgamesh". The legendary king of Uruk and his incredible story was the very first step in this new journey of Ballo delle Castagne. Beside the myth and the most obvious research of eternal life, the figure of Gilgamesh offer the chance to reflect generally on the constant problem of man to look always for an answer for all things in the universe. Indeed, the thousand year sleep of Gilgamesh is now interrupted by the challenge of a new search. The man has lost its meaning, its beliefs. The King rises up from his grave (somewhere in the universe) and starts a journey back to the earth, meeting new and old characters of the ancient saga. The mission is now to reach a new state of consciousness, embracing a new golden age called "Aquarian Age"." -Band album overview

The sound of BdC is right at home within this joint project of Bloodrock Records and Black Widow Records. Their doomy and goth-tinged heavy psych recalls other dark and dramatic artists like Goad and Orne, and to an extent Areknames and Antonius Rex. The tracks feature both male and female vocals in a dramatic style, there is a theatrical flair to the presentation that is very RPI to the core even during the passages in English. (There is a mixture of language). Drumming is also varied rather than purely typical beat-keeping, there are march-like drums and slower, lumbering pacing with that Antonius Rex feel. Organ and keyboards are not overwhelmingly complex but they are filled with spooky moods and choking atmospheres like sooty smoke. I notice a penchant for long repetitive patterns of song structure that often borders on oppressive, challenging the listener a bit, and indeed on their page BdC challenge their listeners to turn this WAY up. Chunky guitar chords and distorted tones contribute to the heaviness and fun. "Il Viaggio" is a cool track typical of the album, with a Doris Norton style vocal over dark, shimmering, hallucinogenic sound that can only be described as unsettling.

The psych/goth-doom sound is changed up on "Rorate Coeli" to express a post-rock sound and this is really refreshing in the throes of such intense material. The change-up continues in "Konigin Der Nacht's" superb and nightmarish recitation over piano and sound effects. Wonderful! "Il Segreto" continues a strong middle section that just cooks with heavy guitar, deep organ tones, and choir vocals to create chilling and heavy, aggressive dark prog. "Eoni" is a huge departure, an acoustic interlude with lofting, lovely synthesizers and male choir vocals--I was wishing this track was longer! A few missteps exist. "Fire in the Sky" is pretty mediocre compared the cool tracks leading up to it, just a very basic, somewhat boring jam that goes on too long. And the closing track is an unfortunate choice. It's the requisite anti-war track with the old "scary music over US presidential speech" thing. It's really old hat in 2012 and it's been done hundreds of times now. While I respect their right to their opinion, my own is that it comes off as a pretty thin way to address such a complex issue, and it ends a great musical ride on a low, awkward note.

Despite my annoyance with that last song, I truly enjoyed "Surpassing All Other Kings" and I like this band. This is an album that will please explorers of the dark, heavy/psych-prog, those fans who love Black Widow and their associated bands. I recommend it to the dark/heavy RPI fans and want to point out that this album is available for a limited time on vinyl! Don't miss it you vinyl hounds! 3 1/2 stars.

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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