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La Maschera Di Cera - Le Porte Del Domani CD (album) cover


La Maschera Di Cera


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.03 | 285 ratings

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5 stars La Maschera di Cera are back with a new album , available both with original Italian or English vocals and lyrics, a trick of the tail done in the past with PFM, Banco and Le Orme (The artwork here is somewhat reminiscent of 'Felona e Sorona', no?) . Their previous release "Petali di Fuoco" was a slight deviation from their usual somber mellotron and bass driven sympho-prog. Wasn't a bad album at all, just different most probably due to PFM guru Franz di Cioccio's clean production and Matteo Nahum's occasional guitar.

"Le Porte del Domani" is a heady return to the bombast with the sensational Agostino Macor's arsenal of vintage keyboards back to the forefront, band leader Fabio Zuffanti still leading the charge with his amazing trebly bass onslaught, drummer extraordinaire Maurizio di Tollo bashing monstrously (the two are still one of the finest rhythm sections in prog) and Andrea Monetti's lovely flute decorating nicely, adding sultry sax to the mix as well. All that was needed was to see if lead singer Alessandro Corviglia could continue to hold on to the microphone stand as Italy's leading progressive voice, which I am happy to say, is the absolute case. He is in fine voice (in both English and his native tongue), elegantly gravelly and overpowering at the same time. The material is perhaps some of the strongest LMdC yet, their sabbatical has given the members time to reboot their creative juices while involving themselves with other projects (DiTollo solo album, Höstsonaten, L'Ombre della Sera etc?). Guitarist Laura Marsano stays somewhat in the background, stepping in the spotlight only rarely and when required, leaving the road clear for Macor's baffling talent (I have already anointed him as the next Emerson/Wakeman) to explode all over this sensational release.

The ragazzi waste little time with the whopping "Ritorno dal Nulla" (Back From the Void), reviving the classic LMdC formula of colossal keyboard wooshes, buzzing bass and pounding drums, creating a doom-laden dirge that would make a volcano erupt on cue. The sublime lead synth scours the airwaves amid torrents of repetitive mellotron, piano sprinkles, shriveling flute and guitar adornments finish the deal. Zuffanti's bass is front and center, plowing away like a deranged madman, to the listener's delight. The ambient mid- section introduces Alessandro's temporarily fragile voice, elevating the main theme to glorious heights, deeply fervent and exalted when needed, confirming the depth of the music displayed. Definitely one of the bands greatest compositions.

"La Guerra Dei Mille Anni" (Thousand Year War) begins acoustically inclined, jangly guitar and sweet flute at the head, with a spacious raspy vocal typical of the Italian tradition, strong Jethro Tull hint in many ways, a savvy little ditty that playfully dances with the medieval rhythm and the backing mellotron. Airy, flavorful, considerate and highly enjoyable.

"Ritratto di Lui" (Chant of Him) as the title implies is squarely axed on the voice of Alex Corviglia , easily one of prog's most original voices, fragile and hoarse, overpowering yet delicate and loaded with incredible presence. The mood is exhilarating, at times delirious and hectic, while at others almost imbued with some serious heavy jazz intonations giving it a Canterbury gleam as witnessed on "L'Enorme Abisso"(The Deepest Chasm). Whirling dervish synths, colossal mellotron waves and booming rhythmic structures keep this firmly anchored with a Marsano solo that crystallizes their passion. When the delirious sax settles in to the brewing fray, the atmosphere becomes intense and desperate, witnessed by the one-two drum punch and the grainy guitar fills sounding almost like You-era Gong, obscure, dissonant and hectic. The arching vocal kills this one off beautifully, an 'enormous' highlight track once again!

"Ritratto di Lei"(Chant of Her), the feminine version of the male chant previously played shows some vocal daring by infusing some spectral choir work in a most subtle manner, a somber and melancholic slow burner that seizes the listener by the jugular and does not let go. A tremendous track that shows Corviglia's wider vocal range and tone control! The man can actually sing! Macor's fluid piano is another spectacular highlight.

For those who wonder if I exaggerate the talents of di Tollo, Zuffanti, Monetti and Macor, check out the ominous "Viaggio Metafisico" (Metaphysical Journey), a groove infested bulldozer that rambles brightly, menacing and yet stealthy, sounding almost like classic Hawkwind. Corviglia then decides to stamp this with an ardent vocal finale.

To challenge the expectations, the next track "Albe nel Tempo" (Dawn in the Temple) starts off in ambient dreamland, Monetti's subtle flute fluttering over synthesized waves of unruffled splendor, Corviglia slow delivery showing restraint and immense profundity, blooming into a huge Laura Marsano guitar solo that just exudes shimmer and lace. A Mellotron outro that is both luminous and grandiose shines on brightly even after the music as stopped.

Change of pace once again, "Luce Sui Due Mondi" (A Word for Two Worlds) a slight countrified breeze with relaxed pastoral pastels and a powerful vocal, a never silenced flute in the air that slowly evolves into this mammoth chorus, acoustic guitar carrying the weight, followed by a massive and unrelenting keyboard onslaught. Another tremendous piece of authentic Italian prog!

The all-instrumental title track finishes off this marvel quite nicely; a relentless metronome beat keeps things panting and lascivious, whistling keyboard passages that combine vintage sounds and modern creativity. Screeching guitar phrasings, piano droplets and odd effects only elevate the exaltation, easily their most exploratory track here, showing off their considerable chops within a dense psychedelic/space fog.

I really enjoyed this brilliant return to form, a rather natural prospect when you have such technically stellar musicians at the helm. Fabio Zuffanti and company have brought the wax mask back to the gilded forefront of modern RPI. Fans of the glorious mellotron will reel from the joy exhibited on this album, as it is used and abused all over the arrangements. The overall atmosphere is weighty, bruising and demanding, very little down-time and no pedant saccharine filler at all. Maniacs of heavy prog will just plain LOVE this!

Their best yet! 5 Future passages

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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