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Horus - Stelle di Battaglia CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.01 | 20 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars The sole release from an obscure Italian group truly lost to the ages, Horus get their only moment to shine thanks to this belated Mellow Candle CD. Compiled of recordings made from 1978, the Turin band is survived on this release by the A and B side of their only single, a couple of demos and some live in the studio recordings. There's peppy instrumentals, sad romantic ballads and some heavier extended workouts that suggest the band would have been one to watch for, and the five members showed plenty of talent and promise. More adventurous RPI enthusiasts will find this a fascinating document of an exciting band that we will sadly likely never hear any more of.

Like many of the Mellow compilations done this way, the sound quality varies between each track, which can be quite frustrating, but it's not really surprising. It's just a little jarring that they are arranged in such a way that no two tracks placed alongside eachother sound of the same quality. I'd rather they be grouped together into sections of studio tracks, live tracks, demos, etc. But, like many of the other Mellow releases, there's still gold to be found in amongst the fragments, so on to the music!

Horus' only single, the foot-tapping `Respiro' is an uptempo punchy and catchy little instrumental rocker, with endless swirling synths, energetic perky drumming and some nimble Steve Howe-inspired electric guitar work. I love the sedate jazz/fusion mystery of the middle section with slightly eerie glistening electric piano mystery and mumbling bass! The band throws quite a few ideas into a piece not quite four minutes long, so it's a shame about the abrupt and uninspired ending. It's B-side `Stelle di Battaglia' is even better, a forceful rock track with lots of tight snappy interplay between the musicians and plenty of wild energy.

Two more tracks appear little more than past the demo stage, but what wonderful little numbers they are. The weary ballad `Figlio d'autunno' has a lovely pained and darkly romantic vocal from Battista Leone, and this track would have been welcome on any RPI album. The hazy and dreamy `Sottoterra' is primarily acoustic, a somewhat downbeat piece contrasted with more joyous outbursts of whirring organ/synths and a grand chorus with group vocals. The murky production here actually gives the performances a bit of grit and edge, always a welcome distinction on the vintage 70's Italian progressive releases.

Sadly the two longer pieces are in the worst shape here, with a horrible sludgy recording quality that makes it very hard to pick up on subtle details the band may have implemented. They are essentially live recordings to my ears, as there doesn't appear to be any overdubs and the band seem to aggressively tear through the pieces in one take, with a slightly messier and exciting energy to their playing. The heavy `Il Bosco' is overloaded with grand dark synth passages, harsh vocals, smashing drumming, attacking up-front bass playing and wild guitar assaults. The middle section is really superb with a dazzling emotional guitar solo from Italo Vercellina over a thick ocean of synths. What a wild piece! `Danzatore Cosmico' goes in all directions, sometimes darkly funky with lots of nice interplay with the chunky bass and keyboards, stirring and commanding serious vocal passages and up-tempo racing chaotic guitar/synth moments that remind me a lot of Yes in the late 70's.

I'm going to give this one three stars, because even through the inconsistent sound quality of some of the tracks, you can still form the opinion that the band had some really good ideas. Perhaps a little directionless, as each piece sounds quite different to the last, but at least the inspiration was there. You can also tell that if these pieces had all been properly and consistently recorded, we'd have a decent album here, no classic, but one the band and fans of the RPI genre could be very happy with. All of the pieces are full of interesting moments, showing a band that had plenty of potential, so sadly it means you end up with a mix of frustration and disappointment, as all we have left are some random scraps of wonderful music of a band that were never able to achieve what they set out to do. But we can still by happy for what little bits we do have, and they can be enjoyed on this lovely compilation work.

Three stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |


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