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Il Segno Del Comando - Der Golem CD (album) cover


Il Segno Del Comando


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.88 | 22 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Il Segno del Comando returned in 2002 with their follow-up album `Der Golem', a concept album inspired by the 1915 novel by Austrian novelist Gustav Meyrink, considered a masterpiece of esoteric literature. Set in Prague, although connected to the mythical Jewish monster of folklore, the Golem takes on a physical manifestation of the town's inhabitants' collective psyche, and this hallucinatory tale is perfect for a band who inhabits the darker corners of the Italian progressive scene, where only the bravest of listeners dare to venture. Now aided by a much more lush production, this release sees an evolved band step a little closer to metal than the debut, increasing the goth influences and experimenting with some very sonically violating electronic sounds to punish the listener. But there's still that continued sense of bridging new contemporary influences to 70's Italian progressive style, whether it comes from the vintage synths, the deep, pompous and overly-dramatic purring vocals of Mercy or the brief excursions into jazz, classical and cabaret.

The introduction piece opens the album in a very theatrical manner, a creeping piano melody over gloomy synths and booming percussion that sounds almost like a stage musical with that same sense of hysterical drama and tension. There's the same dark classical sound that was featured on so many beloved vintage Italian progressive album already present, and even at barely two minutes, it gives the album a kind of orchestral grandiosity right from the start.

The band then kicks right into fast-paced snarling goth melodrama on `Dal Diario Di Un Tagliagole Di Pietre' with Mercy's oppressive crooning over the top of kickdrum rattling, darting electronics (right out of the haunted house kitsch of the Antonius Rex `Praeternatural' album), Mellotron slices and Moog tornados with violent electric guitar searing. It's one of several pieces on the album that comes close to an almost metal sound, absolutely intimidating, and the band is wound up with so much energy that they're just waiting to unleash! The same goes for the next track `Komplott Charousek' - break-neck speed thrashing heavy guitars, kick-drum battery that almost makes them sound like the early albums of British gloom-mongers My Dying Bride. Add in a disorientating and psychedelic opening and some dazzling spectral synth dancing throughout the piece to good effect to make for two suffocating back-to-back onslaughts.

An all synth choir, church organ, spoken word and militaristic drumming interlude `Funerale A Praga' is merely a brief pause before the first true epic of the album, `Salon Lositschek'. The opening is a creepy, classical gothic piano/synth piece that sounds like a cross between `Passaggio' from the self-titled Banco debut and the bleak keyboard soundscapes of the comeback Rex albums. Mercy's vocals soon enter and are quite frightening here, almost mocking, perfectly suiting the murky music behind him. But before you know it, the piece abruptly moves into quirky, campy horror, with jazzy strolling bass and foot-tapping drumming over phasing loopy synths! The band then quickly make one more unpredictable direction change, collapsing into a electronic erotic attack, with moaning female voices in the throes of ecstasy, spiraling guitars and cold-meat looped beats that pound the listener before a brief reprise of the gloomy opening. An exhausting, terrific track with numerous ideas that move seamlessly between each-other.

After the stomping unhinged menace and pomp melodrama of the title track, two lovely instrumentals follow to allow the listener a chance to catch their breath. `Giorni Di Neve' is a downbeat, somber yet almost oddly comforting organ/synth piece, while the emotional `Myriam' showcases electric guitar playing in the grand romantic style of Camel and Goblin over the top of heavy doses of regal organ and ghostly Theremin. I think this one will be a favourite to fans of albums like Morte Macabre, and I can't stop playing it.

`Io Bagatto, Io L'Appeso' begins like a dark James Bond theme, with a deeply purred vocal from Mercy over weeping accordion before the band kicks in with a stormy thrashing attack and his voice takes on a vile, spitting tone. Despite a somewhat disappointing fade-out, listen in the final minutes for some of the scratchiest and most evil sounding Mellotron I've ever heard! The band then wraps the album on a synth orchestrated reprise of the opening of their debut album, which closes this work in a sorrowful and reflective manner.

It's difficult to favour one Comando album over another. Both are equally immersive, complex works for lovers of dark progressive music and Italian sophistication. I think `Der Golem' frequently sees the band advancing the attack, really going for the throat of the listener in a more violent manner, moving closer to heavy metal, so lovers of that genre may want to check this one out first. I think I prefer the first album slightly, mainly due to the obvious love and respect of the vintage bands more in place, but that's not to suggest this is somehow inferior. I hope other listeners will take the time to investigate the influences and works that the band have based their research and music on, which is just as fascinating as the actual album. It's yet another triumph for the band, and a long-awaited third sublime work will hopefully show up soon.

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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