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VIII Strada - La Leggenda Della Grande Porta CD (album) cover


VIII Strada

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4 stars This came as a big surprise for me, an unknown band (for me) that really got my interest. I read about them as a progressive metal band with lots of heavy guitar and piano and I found some mp3-clips that sounded good so I decided to try them out, and bought their CD. And what a surprise it was.

First, in my book, this is not progressive metal. I'd say these are in the progressive symphonic vein with lots of heavy guitars but also lots of keyboards and mellow parts. The band are heavy sometimes but so are also a lot of other bands labeled progressive rock. The album reminds me about fellow italian proggers Malibran and Calliope, although I consider this album superior to these mentioned bands.

The vocals are fantastic and the singer sings in italian (thanks, I prefer bands to sing in their native language) and the album is full of symphonic melodies with tight arrangements throughout the album, the longer the song, the better it is.

Lots of great vocals, melodies and all types of interesting twists and turns wich makes this album on my top list of 2008, I bought this at the same time as Phideaux - Number seven and Beardfish's - Distined solitaire and this albums is easily as good as those albums.

If you're in to italian progressive rock and like fellow italians like Il Bacio Della Medusa, Pandora and the two I mentioned earlier, this is a must buy!

4 stars, very, very close to 5. Say 4.5!!

Report this review (#230944)
Posted Tuesday, August 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Powerful prog-rock that will please the masses

VIII Strada is a band from Milan that could be described as somewhere between prog-metal and power-symphonic. Along with other contemporary Italian bands like Pandora, Coral Caves, and Senza Nome, Strada produces grand lengthy, epic feeling compositions full of raucous energy one moment and gentle piano melody the next. Comparing such groups, the difference is that those three bands seem to touch on the uniquely RPI elements more often than Strada. Strada has these RPI elements as well but in the percentage of the mix seem to put the less native symphonic-metal influences first and the influence of their musical forbears second. You feel the presence of the Dream Theater spirit here more than any Banco vibe. That is not to minimize the impact of this fine recording in any way, just trying to explain the subtle difference I note. The playing and feeling of "La Leggenda" actually reminds me very much of another band I recently reviewed called Minstrel who delivered an epic rock opera called "Faust" although Minstrel are more operatic. If you love this band you'll need to dig back and find that album. I also believe fans of Nemo and Riverside should check out VIII Strada for equally engaging sound.

Strada has been around since the late 90s and consists of two original members and three recent ones, which no doubt helps to contribute to Strada's seeming musical maturity being so well balanced with the crushing, youthful vigor they can unleash at any moment. It makes for thrilling listening. Seven tracks ranging mostly from 6-12 minutes in length provide instances of delicate beauty, melodic acoustic guitars and gentle piano passages winding like a river to the falls--at which time the band just launches. Huge chords and soaring guitar leads, metallic chugs and borderline nuclear drumming set the feel of metal well within range, putting them not so far from Pain of Salvation in places. Next to the complete musical competence of each player you have powerful and passionate vocals, with wonderful Italian language (thankfully they resisted using English.) There is no growling here, only quality singing and harmonies. When the band does turn on the guitar shred the results seem very well integrated to the composition rather than feeling obligatory. My only complaint is the personal one I have with so many modern releases. The professionalism and quality is there in droves but lacking are the weird surprises of the 70s albums, the shots of avant-garde so often thrown into '70s RPI albums (or any genre albums.) Bands like Strada (and Pandora) could use some of that which is taking nothing away from what they do so well. While this is not the kind of music I typically go nuts for, I really have to acknowledge it's a fine album deserving of 4 stars.

Sadly, I note on the bands Myspace that they are taking applications for a new keyboardist. Since original keyboardist Silvano Negrinelli composed all of the words and music on this album, it sounds as if VIII Strada's state of affairs may be in serious jeopardy. Don't let that stop you from sampling a band that shows Italy's accessible prog-rock bands are as pleasing and dynamic as those from anywhere else.

Report this review (#232006)
Posted Sunday, August 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars I was surprised to see this band listed as Prog-Metal, they do offer up some aggressive guitar and heaviness at times but I wouldn't consider this a Prog-Metal band. I guess you have to put them somewhere though. This is an album that should be an easy 4 stars for me. I like this style of music a lot but right from the first listen I knew something didn't sit right with me.Well I feel it's the vocals. When he sings in a reserved manner he's great but when he "lets go" it sounds like he's yelling the lyrics instead of singing them. At least he sings in Italian. Anyway regardless of that this is a really good album. Love the cover art too. By the way in the liner notes the guitarist thanks "PAIN OF SALVATION and my dog Rush for all the joy he has given me". My kind of guy.

"La Leggenda Della grande Porta" opens with chirping birds as piano the guitar arrive. Reserved vocals follow. It's fuller before 1 1/2 minutes then it really kicks in with scorching guitar. The drums,piano and guitar shine. "Mediterranea" builds to a heavy sound quickly. Some killer guitar 3 minutes in then it settles with reserved vocals. Scorching guitar after 6 1/2 minutes. "Ulysses" opens with drums as guitar comes in. It settles 1 1/2 minutes in with piano and reserved vocals. Piano only 3 1/2 minutes in then it turns heavier.

"Sinergy" is an instrumental. It opens with the sounds of traffic then it kicks in with keyboards. Guitar follows. Speaking of guitar check it out before 4 1/2 minutes ! It settles a minute later then kicks back in around 7 minutes. "Laguna Di Giada" is mellow with reserved vocals. Ripping guitar after 2 minutes. Great sound before 3 1/2 minutes. The guitar lights it up before 5 minutes. "Amanecer" is a short instrumental of acoustic guitar and piano. "La Terre Dei Falo" has this nice heavy sound then the vocals come in as it settles some. A calm 4 minutes in with fragile vocals and piano. Then it kicks back in. I really like the guitar after 6 minutes.

3.5 stars. A really good album

Report this review (#247477)
Posted Saturday, October 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With La Leggenda Della Grande Porta Italian's VIII Strada have come up with a modern sounding prog album, blending elements of metal, symphonic prog and rock and I have to say it's very good too.

Despite their prog credentials and Italian status their sound owes little to the classic RPI sound of the seventies, though occasional glimpses shine through their sound with piano playing a prominent role. The prog metal tag, whilst relevant tells only part of the story. Yes there are certainly prog metal elements on display, very much with a Dream Theater vibe at times, but whilst they produce a powerful sound there aren't really enough metallic riff laden moments for full prog metal credentials with many light and shade sections added to the ingredients.

The music is fairly intricate with many twists and turns but without losing sight of a strong melody at the expense of complexity. Despite this being their first album they have been around quite a few years, even apparently releasing an EP back in the late nineties, so they've had plenty of time to perfect their craft and the standard of musicianship is not surprisingly excellent, shown to good effect on the many instrumental sections throughout the seven compositions. This is perfectly demonstrated on the eleven minute instrumental Sinergy and as good as it is, this album reaches its peak when they combine their instrumental prowess alongside the fine vocal work of Tito Vizzuso (sung in Italian) like on album highlight, the opening title track. It's a song that builds from quiet restraint as bird song and bass lead in the rest of the band into a powerful and melodic piece with an inventive and exciting structure over its eleven and a half minutes with a myriad of changes.

Overall VII Strada have produced a strong debut album likely to appeal to prog metal and symphonic lovers in equal measures. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#279006)
Posted Thursday, April 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars RPI Metal? Maybe!

First of all as many others have mentioned it isn't easy to file this band under Progressive Metal. As you may already know from my reviews I'm not a great listener of RPI, though I'm from Italy, but VIII STRADA surprised me for the presence in their sound of lots of influences mixed up together in a very efficient manner: classic 'Howeish' guitars, metal 'dreamtheaterish' riffs, but not as ripetitive as the latest DT, great guitar solos with polite (RPI) or decayed (HM) registers, powerful singing and astonishing piano playing, recalling some 'Banco' echoes. It's easy to find in "La Leggenda Della Grande Porta" (The Wide Door Legend) great moments of feeling, especially when Silvano Negrinelli enreaches the tracks with his piano interludes. Moreover the rhythm section (bass and drums) are well melted together giving to the structure of the tracks power and good basis on which the other players can safely lean. In my opinion "La Leggenda..." is the best moment of the entire album, with its sudden changes along the 11.25 minutes of length, its incredible riffs and once more some great piano interludes.

**** 'La Leggenda Della Grande Porta' and 'Sinergy'

*** All the others

3.5 stars the entire album

Report this review (#302472)
Posted Wednesday, October 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars This Italian five piece formation is rooted in 1994 but later the line-changed radically, only two founding members survived. On their website I read this about the music on their debut album entitled La Leggenda Della Grande Porta:

"VIII Strada is a musical workshop where harmony, sounds and words are forged together to create songs whose essential aim is to transmit a state of mind and share emotions with the listener. VIII STRADA is classified as Progressive Rock but it is strongly influenced by the various musical tastes and experience of its members", "An unmistakable symphonic-classical influence mixed with the raw energy of rock create the VIII STRADA sound, enriched by diverse contaminations from worlds, cultures, times and ages apart", and "VIII STRADA's music overcomes the barriers of categorization and, especially when performed live and greater contact is established with the audience, the listener finds it is easily interpreted and emotionally enthralling. Let's rock !!!".

Well, listening to their melodic and accessible music I conclude that VII Strada indeed rocks! To be more specific, in general VIII Strada is scouting the borders between Heavy Progressive and Prog Metal (but fortunately without the usual boring cascades of scale-acrobatics) in an exciting way: very dynamic, powerful, bombastic, lots of shifting moods, breaks and sensational accellarations, powerful Italian vocals with passion and a powerhouse rhythm-section. But the focus is on the sensational guitar work: propulsive riffs and cascades of fiery, howling and blistering solos, what a killer guitar player! His guitar is often in awesome interplay with the sparkling Grand piano, this is VIII Strada their trademark, and I love it! At some moments the band plays more mellow featuring warm acoustic guitar, tender piano and dreamy vocals. Like in the titletrack and Laguna Di Giada, and the short piece Amencer even contains a wonderful duet between tango-like piano and classical guitar.

Although VIII Strada doesn't play at the level of other promising new Italian progrock bands like Il Bacio Delle Medusa and Pandora, this is an exciting CD to check out for the Heavy Prog and Prog Metal fans. And progheads who don't have a problem with harder-edged progrock. Additional: in 2015 VIII Strada released their second effort entitled Babylon.

My rating: 3,5 star.

Report this review (#1933041)
Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2018 | Review Permalink

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