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erik neuteboom
4 stars


After their debut CD Istinto (2003) and the successor Storie Fuori Dal Tempo (2005), the Italian five piece band Conqueror has released its third studio album entitled 74 Giorni in 2007. Again the band has made notable progress, I am even impressed by the ten melodic, tasteful and varied compositions (some instrumental) delivering a wide range of instruments: a wonderful blend of soaring keyboards, powerful bass runs, a tight drum beat and sensitive electric guitar in Il Viaggio, lots of shifting moods with pleasant work on guitar and flute in Orca, a Sixties-like organ sound (The Animals/The Doors), wah-wah guitar, a flute solo and fluent synthesizer flights in teh alternating Non Maturi per l'Adilą, romantic piano play in the short Cormonrani, tasteful keyboards and varied guitar work (from heavy riffs to use of the tremolo arm) in L'ora del Parlare, Fender Rhodes piano and jazzy guitar in the short Miraggi and sensational Minimoog-like runs and a compelling part with raw guitar and soaring flute in the captivating Nebbia ad Occhi Chiusi. So lots of variety and soli on different instruments (from guitar and flute to saxophone and organ), this album grows every listening session and I am sure it will carry you away to Progheaven!

Report this review (#127402)
Posted Tuesday, July 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the third album for this contemporary italian band from Sicily. I haven't listened to their previous releases so I cannot offer you a deep analisys or a specific comparison.

Conqueror's new project is very interesting being a complete and mature concept work dedicated to the lucky/unlucky adventure of journalist, TV conductor and famous italian adventurer Ambrogio Fogar and his fellow journalist Mauro Mancini who tried, in 1978, to circumnavigate the Antartic lands with a ship named "Surprise".

Unfortunately an orca (a killer whale) caused a shipwreck when they were near the Falkland islands. The two friends went adrift on a small raft for 74 long days. Finally, a boat was sailing around there and rescued them. Unluckily, Mauro Mancini died only two days after for a polmonar didease.

This is the fascinating and sad concept upon which all the themes are based. Musically the album appears to be very inspired but its true prog nature is revealed only from the fifth song on, after a long introduction (interesting by the way) made of mainstream melodic pop-prog. Their battle horses are the nice alternating between saxophone and Tullesque flute, the fiery electric guitar' solos as in "L'Ora del Parlare" (5,49 mns), the sparse touches of sixties-like-keyboards as in "Non Maturi per l'Aldilą" (5,46 mns), the exciting changing moods in the elegant melodic structure, the strong interplay between bass, drums and mini-moog as in the beautiful "Nebbia ad Occhi Chiusi" (9,34 mns) or "Cambio di Rotta" (5,11 mns, excellent also for sax).

Above all, wonderful female vocals by Simona Rigano. Someone would compare them to the italian seventies band Apoteosi. I disagree, they're less PFM inspired. A vague comparison could be found in other fellow contemporary italian band Aries but not completely being their sound a little bit more varied than that Zuffanti's project. Very good the piano parts and interludes especially when blended with flute and fast drumming as in "Eleutherios" (6,33 mns) or "Master Stefanos" (5,57 mns). I'm not sure but sometimes I've heard some light and mellow mediterranean flavour.

I wasn't sure about the final evaluation of this album due to its first part which doesn't describe very well what's going on later. Nothwithstanding this is an album that needs more spins to be completely appreciated. Now I know that many progheads will be pleased!

Report this review (#130091)
Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a great album. The first thing you'll probably notice listening to it are the natural pleasant female vocals. We start out with 3 mostly vocal oriented tracks and one short nice instrumental. From these the first is best i feel. Thereafter the album really takes off and becomes more varied with excellent vocal parts alternating terrific instrumental interplay.Highlights for me are the 5th, 7th and especially the 10th track (great interplay between flute and guitar),i couldn't find any weak tracks on this record.

Since female singers tend to give music a specific style and the album is italian it might seem logical to compare it with Aries from 2005. And indeed there are some similarities.Apart from the female vocals both albums have a modern somewhat spacy guitar/synth based sound in common, we're definitely not on 70's italian hammond organ ground here.

There are also a number of differences though.Simona Angelieoni really defines Aries's sound with her haunted somewhat sad voice while the music generally just backs up her singing often concluding with excellent but relatively straight forward melancholic choir synth or howling guitar accompanied by organ.

Simona Rigano's vocals are obviously very important for Conqueror too but she isn't as dominant as the other Simona is on the Aries piece leaving more room for instrumental improvisation. And it shows.

There's more variation in the instrumental sections here, Conqueror generally being more subtle often gradually building up the tension using mostly flute,string synth,electic piano, moog and guitar. These sections sometimes have a purely symphonic but also sometimes a slightly jazzy/spacy quality.

Actually I'd sooner compare the instrumental playing here with Finisterre's Storybook and In Limine. Conqueror has a somewhat warmer sound than Finisterre though and the band is never as jazzy or experimental as Finisterre can be especially on In Limine.

Concluding the comparision, i prefer the impressive vocals on Aries to the more light hearted vocals (despite the sad story) on 74 Giorni. Actually despite the vocal sections being very good i find they resemble each other a bit at times. This might be the only small minus i can find with this album. On the other hand i find the instrumental playing on this piece to be more varied and interesting. As you can see Simona Rigano has a big part here too, being the keyboard player of the band.

Conqueror hasn't invented totally new music but they've picked up ideas from various genres and blended them in a very nice and accessible way.Together with Notabene's Sei lacrime d'ambra this is my favorite Italian album from 2007 sofar. 4.25 stars, highly recommended.


Report this review (#131954)
Posted Sunday, August 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars After hearing the (excellent) second album by italian prog group Conquerer, Storie Fuori Dal Tempo, I was curious enough to buy their third, 74 Giorni, without knowing what was cominhg. Well, all I can say is that it surpassed my expectations. Beautiful melodies, great musicanship, no fillers nor weak parts anywhere. The song selection is varied and eclectic, but it keeps you listening to it iuntil the very end. This is the kind of CD that gives the impression of being very short: so nice you think the time has passed too fast. So I end up finding myself listening to it over and over.

Although accessible, the music is very progressive with no concessions. As most good italians bands do, their musicanship seems so natural that different tracks and shifting rhythm and moods blend together to make one great tapestry of sounds. With no ego trips and working as a tigh unit, Conqueror shows that prog music can be melodic and easy to listen, yet it is no pop or simplistic. The musicians are skillfull and the arrangements indeed complex sometimes. Yet the resulting music is very captivating and will please anyone with some sensibility. And, to top it all, Simona Rigano“s voice is simply gorgeous!

Rating: 4,5 stars. If you like itailian prog music this is a must have. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#137748)
Posted Tuesday, September 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Conqueror with their third album seem to have attained a full maturity... "74 giorni" is a concept album that was inspired by Ambrogio Fogar's book "La zattera" and describes a journey that turned bad... Ambrogio Fogar was a sailor, rally driver and all- round adventurer. In 1978, when he was sailing from Mar del Plata to Cape Horn along with his friend Mauro Mancini, his ship "Surprise" was wrecked because of a killer whale attack. Ambrogio Fogar and Mauro Mancini survived for seventy-four days in a life raft in the South Atlantic until they were rescued by a Greek cargo ship. Journalist Mauro Mancini died of pneumonia two days after the rescue....

The sources of Conqueror's "musical inspiration" range from PFM to Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, from Pink Floyd to Alan Parsons Project, from Italian melodies to classical music... Nevertheless it would be extremely unfair to define them as a clone of any other band, since their song-writing is personal and they prove to be able to find an original way to express themselves... "74 giorni" is conceived as a musical and poetical journey, as the description of a quest for self-knowledge where you need to fight against adversity and never give up to reach your goals, to follow your ideals...

"Masks of men / Portrayed into catalogues / Conditioned by the symptoms of regularity...". The lyrics of the opener "Maschere di uomini" (Masks of men) suggest that you can choose a model which is worth following, you can set off and look for something else, far from hypocrisy and from the models of life that the media tries to impose, even if your choice could lead to a dangerous journey... All you have to do is make up your mind and the journey can quietly begin... The mood of this track is dreamy and the voice of Simona Rigano soars light and melodic upon a piano arpeggio...

The instrumental "Il viaggio" (The journey) features a good guitar solo and leads to "Orca", where the band try to describe the effect of the killer whale attack against the "hunters of emotions"... "Looking at the time passing by / Hidden by the night / Forgetting just for a while / To be men on such an unknown world / Sons of a noble Earth without mercy...": the need for knowledge and insight is "captured" by a whimsical destiny... On this track the melodic side of Conqueror still prevails but the sweet dream is going to turn sour...

The wreckage can be also seen as a metaphor of every misfortune in everyday life. On "Limbo" the soaring voice of Simona Rigano is ethereal, as if suspended in a dream that is becoming a nightmare and asking for help...

The impending tragedy is suggested by the change of mood and atmosphere on "Non maturi per l'aldilą" (Not ready to die)... From this track on the music becomes quirky, with shifting rhythms suggesting the struggling for life in the middle of an Ocean of solitude and fear... "Non maturi per l'aldilą" along with the short instrumental "Cormorani", "L'ora del parlare", "Preghiera" and "Miraggi" form a kind of long and beautiful suite... "Nebbia ad occhi chiusi" is outstanding, one of the best moments of an excellent work!

The name of the sailor who first helped Ambrogio Fogar and his friend was Eleutherios and the name of the Greek cargo ship that rescued them was Master Stefanos... "Northern winds... Blow softly, talk with my words! / Keep on dancing on the icy mantle of the desert!"... "Eleutherios" and the instrumental "Master Stefanos" are both tracks thick with emotion, full of hope...

The final "Cambio di rotta" is a kind of requiem for a lost friend... "We sail on the sea pushed by the wish for knowledge, by the need of an unconditioned freedom... We sail on the sea because we have to and many times the sea wants to keep his sons it..."

On stage the band introduce the songs reading some passages of book that inspired the concept and it's a pity that you can't find them in the booklet... Anyway, the overall impression about this album is extremely good... In my opinion "74 giorni" is one of the best "prog" releases of 2007 so far...

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Posted Tuesday, October 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Finally. I was starting to seriously wonder why there has been such silence from the once glorious hotbed of Prog, Italy. They are a strange breed, timing and rigor not necessarily their strongest national traits, somehow always coming through in the crunch when least expected (just check out their ultra-dramatic national soccer team!). I have heard that 2008 will yield some delicious progfood, new albums by Minstrel, Hostsonaten & Moongarden. In the meantime, as antipasto, we get this new recording from Conqueror, based on some positive reviews on our favorite site, to keep our prog hunger temporarily in check. As so often the case with Italo- Prog, the first audition was a mixed affair, trying to find the usual reference points with great difficulty, demanding way more attention from the casual listener. (I buy most of my stuff from a store, so the car CD player gets the first kick at the can, and with all the silly distractions like choking traffic, insane drivers, suicidal pedestrians, hidden police cars, potholes, traveling garbage cans, young boys with blinders chasing ball in the's kind of hard to focus on the Rickenbacker, if you seen what I mean.). Fine, I will be a good little Soprano and I will listen more respectfully from now on, I promise. (Conqueror are from Sicily, enough said). Dressed all in black, cell phone shut, ex-wife busy, kids in school, the Campari bottle seducing the orange juice, I swab my ears and dive into this " a Spicey Meataball", a musical voyage in 13 episodes that recounts the tragic story of 2 Italian ocean adventurers , marooned for 74 days after being "torpedoed " by a killer whale. Conqueror is led by keyboardist Simona Rigano, who not only has a superb voice but she can really caress those ivories! She deserves the same applause as other lady keyboard prog divas (such as Quaterna Requiem's Elisa Wiermann or Ars Nova's Keiko Kumagai) by displaying exquisite piano expressions, swirling Brian Augerish organ runs and sensual synth washes. Her sister Sabrina Rigano provides numerous flute colorations as well as some sunny sax blowouts. Tino Nastasi strums a crafty guitar as well as wielding a mean Rickenbacker bass, thus amplifying drummer Natale Russo's articulate percussives. The CD starts off with some light vocal fare, folkish Italian style, preparing the voyage ("Il Viaggio"), the attack of the killer whale ("Orca"), the eerie silence of fear ("Limbo"), the only help are the birds ("Cormorani"). As we delve deeper into the despair, the musical tone becomes more urgent, finally culminating in the sweeping 9.5 minute epic "Nebbia ad Occhi Chiusi", a prog masterstroke delivering an articulate groovy riff with bass, drums and synths interweaving majestically. As previously noted by another reviewer, the final 3 tracks form a rather expressive suite of unchained emotion fueled by unexpected rescue, more brilliant corkscrew guitar leads, exultingly pleading vocals and an exhaustive lament at the sheer horror of the two adventurers' plight. The story ends on a narrated epilogue like a well-turned book. I was very impressed by the quality of this splendid effort. Our three Italians PA reviewers (all named Andrea, amazing!) are correctly effusive in their praise and there musical tastes are worthy of the finest Barolos. Now, I am pronto for the main entrees. Salute! 4 buoys
Report this review (#152127)
Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 74 Days

Lost at sea. A long time to be adrift. This collection of songs from Italy's Conqueror is a very accessible piece of music. Almost impossible not to like. I actually gave this one as a gift recently to a friend who is definitely NOT a prog fan, but more of a pop music fan. This is the kind of album that can appeal to anyone. The songs are generally a light rock music played with impeccable skill. Every track is full of melody and beauty and there are ever present tasteful rhythm sections, acoustic guitar, flute, piano, and some decent electric lead work. The female vocals are in Italian and are of average quality. She sings with character but has a somewhat limited range. I don't mean that as an insult, I think she does a nice job anyway. The arrangements are very good, each song moves along well with multiple sections of interest within. The downside of the album is that while each track has pretty moments, there is a certain politeness to this material that makes it just a little too easy going for me at times. I would recommend the title to anyone looking for mellow and melodic modern rock with talented instrumentalists. It is undeniably good, but for me it is something I confess I will play very little because it just doesn't grab me emotionally like I need music too. 74 Giorni is perfect music for a vacation when you're sitting on a balcony somewhere staring at the see and enjoying a drink with your SO. But as a demanding prog listener who craves a certain high from music in my daily life, Conqueror doesn't provide enough of it. And yet it is certainly "good" so 3 stars straight up is the verdict.

Report this review (#158514)
Posted Sunday, January 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars I am quite biased as far as "Conqueror" is concerned.

I went through so many wonderful moments while listening to their first two albums that expectations were real high with their last effort to date. But the same magic didn't take place.

Brilliant and inspired music are still present. Just listen to the jewel "Il Viaggio". For once, the lead guitar has the major role and it is a truly moving instrumental. Aerial, spacey and so melodic. A highlight.

Another constancy is the fine fluting from Sabrina as well as the passionate vocals from Simona. Don't worry: you'll get them all during the marvellous "Orca". Again, the very emotional guitar break adds another dimension to the track (which should have been darker if you take into consideration the dramatic influence of this dramatic episode on the future of one of the main character from this story). For more details, I can only recommend you to read the excellent review from Andrea.

Some heavier structure is reached with the Crimsonesque "Non Maturi Per L'Adilr". Not the best from the album, but one of the most complex for sure (on par with longest and fully instrumental "Nebbia."). A total contrast with the light instrumental piano "Cormorani".

This album is a wonderful journey into the most symphonic and brilliant Italian prog music at times ("Preghiera") but not only. "Conqueror" also plays music with a harder edge and some jazzy one like "L'Ora Di Palare" and "Miraggi", but those ones are not my cup of tea.

In all, this album is my least favourite from the band (but I admit that my hopes were pretty high). The wonderful and symphonic feeling is leaving the place to heavy ("Master Stefanos") and jazzy parts which are not always the best evolution as far as I am concerned.

The closing number is a combination of these symphonic and jazzy influences (but more on the symph side) and it should have guided the band throughout this musical experience. If only the global sound of this album would have been more like this very good song...

Three stars for this good album. But I am left a bit unsatisfied.

Report this review (#182218)
Posted Thursday, September 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars I feel this is a letdown after their first two amazing albums. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised considering this is a concept album. I actually didn't know that until I was about to post my review and read what some of the other reviewers were saying about it. With the lyrics all being in Italian I didn't know they were relaying a story. It all made sense when I did find that out though, as i'm not huge on concept albums.

"Mascere Di Uomini" opens with piano as those female vocals come in reservedly. A fuller sound a minute in. Nice guitar solo 4 1/2 minutes in, sax follows. "Il Viaggio" opens with the sounds of sea gulls and water. Synths and drums come in followed by flute then guitar after a minute. "Orca" opens with acoustic guitar as flute joins in. Vocals follow and a fuller sound before 2 minutes. A change 3 minutes in as the tempo picks up. "Limbo" opens with sax and drums. Vocals come in when sax stops. They continue to take turns. "Non Maturi Per L'aldila" opens with synths and drums before the organ comes ripping in. Check the organ out before 3 minutes as well. Vocals before 4 minutes. "Cormorani" is a short instrumental of piano only. "L'Ora Del Parlare" has a nice heavy sound with vocals. The flute is prominant. Good song. "Preghiera" has an aggressive guitar intro, when synths come in it settles. Vocals follow. Sax late. "Miraggi" is a fairly light tune, almost jazzy.

"Nebbia Ad Occhi Chiusi" is the longest track at 9 1/2 minutes. It opens with a pleasant melody, then synths take over 1 1/2 minutes in. Vocals and flute a minute later. Nice guitar after 3 minutes. Flute and vocals are back. It gets a little experimental before 5 minutes. Love the guitar 6 1/2 minutes in my favourite part. It starts getting heavier with synths and guitar. "Eleutherios" contrasts the more uptempo vocal sections with the calm flute passages. "Master Stefanos" features some intricate guitar melodies early which I like. It gets more powerful after 2 minutes with organ. It settles and then starts to build 4 minutes in. It's built a minute later. This is my favourite track. "Cambio Di Rotta" has a nice beat to it with sax. Synths come in. Vocals before a minute. Lots of synths follow.

Good album, but compared to their first two albums this is not a success.

Report this review (#189846)
Posted Tuesday, November 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A couple of years after the very good ''Storie Fuori Dal Tempo'' Conqueror try hard to make an impact to the prog world and they really started to set the seeds.The band moved to on to their third release,for which bassist Daniele Bambino replaced Fabio Ucchino.The new album was titled ''74 giorni'',distributed by Mellow Records.

This is a concept release refering to the number of days two Italian sailors, Ambrogio Fogar and Mauro Mancini, struggled to survive after the wreck of the ship ''Surprise'' back in late- 70's.Musically this is another fantastic work by Conqueror and while the album starts off with a piano-ballad led by the sensational voice of Simona Rigano,it soon will switch into a fascinating modern Symphonic Rock trip,similar to the likes of FINISTERRE and LA MASCHERA DI CERA.The compositions alternates between vocal-based melodic themes and complicated instrumentals with light interplays and a fair amount of adventurous breaks.A great balance between the band members' sees all of their work in the front: Simona Rigano delivers lovely piano passages and grandiose atmospheres through synths,Sabrino Rigano will add the symphonic flavor of flutes and occasionally the charm of her melodic saxes,while guitarist Tino Nastasi prooves to be a major part o the band,offering both melodic and jazzy at times performances.And while the tracks are mainly short,all contain a vast spectrum of changing moods and interplays,however it is impressive how the band manages to keep a steady deep atmosphere throughout the album.

With ''74 giorni'' it is guaranteed that every Conqueror release will contain challenging, intricate and balanced material.Another superb effort by the band,highly recommended to fans of high- quality Symphonic/Progressive Rock,no matter you are fond of Italian lyrics or not.

Report this review (#558181)
Posted Friday, October 28, 2011 | Review Permalink

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