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3 stars Without any expectations whatsoever, I entered their world.

And what a strange brew I got in my hands. They are listed as eclectic prog and Black Widow is their label. So it must be a dark brew then. Not quite. What Goad has come up with here is a mix of commercial American stadium rock, AOR, RPI, stoner rock aka Black Sabbath, eclectic and symphonic prog. A mix of Journey, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Black Widow and Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso in other words. An eclectic mix, to say at least. I am really having problems getting my head around this mix, I have to say. I gladly admit my jaw was on the floor during the first listening session.

Unfortunate, the band does not come up with the great songs this style of music require. The music ticks over very nicely, thank you. The vocals is excellent. The same can be said about the rest of the band which lays down a nice soundscape filled with organic tangents, electric guitars, bass and drums. This is by all means a very good album, but the dot over the i is missing and so is any real great songs. But I want to hear more from this band on the basis of this album.

3 stars

Report this review (#431443)
Posted Tuesday, April 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Strange, windy, and unsettled....

Goad is a project over 30 years old who have joined forces with the illustrious Black Widow Records. Led by Florence based brothers Gianni and Maurilio Rossi the band has numerous releases. While this is the first album I've heard by Goad I have a distinct gut feeling "Masquerade" is a special one, it feels like a band reborn rather than a band at the end of a long road. The most obvious influence to me is Van Der Graaf Generator though there are also notes of Crimson and darker heavy rock and prog-rock bands. The band is very much in step with another well known band of Italian VDGG devotees, their label mates in the superb Areknames. I actually prefer Goad to Areknames a little bit though, while still dense there is more contrasting space here. Other references that came to mind include Hero, Procol Harum, sometimes even Jacula for the dark organ atmospheres.

At 77 minutes "Masquerade" is a long and chilling journey which some will say could use editing, but those who enjoy it will not want it to end. Driving heavy guitars and bass, chunky, lumbering and distorted are featured with all manner of dark keyboard textures, saxophone, and larger than life vocals. The moods are powerful and thundering, occasionally contrasted with eerie softer sections which just make the tracks pop with intrigue. In these sections you will experience sumptuous solo string performance, flute, and acoustic guitar----even a classical solo interlude at one point. But the most important impression to convey is the sense of unease and imbalance foisted on the listener as this unfolds like a tale from a dusty old magician's book. The music's structure in these weird sections are unpredictable and throw you off base, they make you feel odd somehow. True haunting mood music, I love it! Several pieces are long enough to allow some great instrumental stretching. Some listeners are going to find this work an unstructured mess while others (like me) are going to love the strange magic and feeling of being lost in the woods. The two part "To Helen" may be my favorite, featuring spirited guitar leads challenged by violin accompaniment, it then spirals into a strange place with descending piano lines behind the bold string performance. The five part title suite closes the album with a hearty epic feel and charms. I really enjoy these kinds of intimate projects which sound so different from much of what is out there these days. You can tell these guys are still in it for the love of good music.

"Masquerade" is going to thrill lovers of the dark, turbulent prog-rock that Black Widow specializes in. The only thing that would have made it better for me personally would have been Italian vocals. But I'll spare you that rant this time. Don't miss Goad if you enjoy Areknames or Jacula/Rex, though Goad are not as overtly dark as the latter. Italy is having yet another great year of releases! 3 1/2 stars.

Report this review (#509150)
Posted Thursday, August 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Goad are an Italian band from Florence formed by brothers Maurilio and Gianni Rossi in the late seventies. I regret to say that it's only with Masquerade, their eighth studio album that I've finally discovered them. Regret because Masquerade is a fascinating album, a long, dark and brooding record with much to discover.

Firstly I'm going to say that Masquerade is not an easy ride. For starter's it's seventy seven minutes long and requires considerable time and effort to digest it all. A diverse range of musical styles and the usual instrumentation of guitar, bass, bass drums and keyboards augmented by sax, flute and violin give great scope, which they make full use of, for an album touching many bases. The nearest musical parallels I can draw bring to mind King Crimson (early seventies), though in a simpler form and Van Der Graaf Generator. Their dark prog has heavier elements at times as well as symphonic touches. The music is often raw, at times appearing somewhat disjointed as if it's about to all fall apart at any moment which adds to the unsettling feel. I find the keyboard sounds and textures particularly appealing, often haunting and melancholic complimented by some visceral guitar work. The music's not particularly structurally complex but made interesting by the diversity of layers and sounds. Some may find the vocals of Maurilio Rossi hard to handle - my 14 year old daughter asked me if he was in pain! Nevertheless he has an emotional delivery and reminded me of a rougher and less tuneful Micky Jones of Man fame and is integral to the band's sound.

Despite many excellent moments the length of the CD turns out to be its weakness and I can't help feeling that a bit of editing may have produced a stronger album. However the many high points including Eldorado, The Judge, To Helen and Alone more than make amends. The closing thirteen minute title track doesn't quite live up to expectations, the various parts not holding together too well but worth hearing nevertheless. Masquerade is a very good album that the aforementioned editing could have turned into an excellent one. Still well worth 3 stars and no doubt about it, I really want to hear more of this fascinating band.

Report this review (#542734)
Posted Wednesday, October 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars "I am a singer of songs that I learned in the far city, and my calling is to make beauty with the things remembered of childhood. My wealth is in little memories and dreams, and in hopes that I sing in gardens when the moon is tender and the west wind stirs the lotos-buds..." (H.P. Lovecraft, from The Quest Of Iranon). Well, I think that this quote could describe in some way the spirit and the mood of Goad's new album, "Masquerade". Maurilio Rossi and his band have been around for many years although they have never emerged from the underground scene. Luckily they never gave up the musical dreams of their youth and in my opinion "Masquerade" is their best work so far. It was recorded between 2007 and 2011 with a line up featuring Maurilio Rossi (organ, keyboards, bass, guitars), Francesco Diddi (violin, flute, sax, guitar), Gianni Rossi (guitar, backing vocals), Vick Usai (drums), Tommaso Baggiani (drums), Luis Magnanimo (bass), and Antonio Vannucci (piano, keyboards) but during the recording sessions they were helped by many guest musicians. The album was finally released in 2011 on the independent label Black Widow Records and I think that the result is excellent. You can find here all the passion of the band for vintage sounds and the literary works of artists such as Edgar Allan Poe or Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Among Goad's sources of inspiration there are bands such as Van der Graaf Generator, Genesis or King Crimson, of course, but the song-writing of this Florentine band is good and rich in ideas.

The opener "Fever Called Living" features heavy electric guitar riffs, touches of flute and dark organ rides. It describes a desperate escape from reality where the grave becomes a shelter, a peaceful bed where you can rest and dream for the eternity... "Thanks Heaven! The crises, the danger is past... And the fever called living is conquered at last...". The following "Eldorado" is a hard rock track in two parts that could recall Deep Purple. The lyrics are taken from a poem by E.A. Poe describing a gallant knight and his pointless quest for the land of gold... "But he grew old / This knight so bold / And o'er his heart a shadow / Fell as he found / No spot of ground / That looked like Eldorado...".

"The Last Knowledge" is another track divided into two parts. It is calmer, melancholic and evokes overwhelming memories, the dark shadow of a missing lover and the killing strength of her absence. Next comes the reflective "The Judge" which describes in music and words a strange meeting with a talking painting crying blood. It's the painting of an old judge who during his life condemned many people to death and now is haunted by their ghosts for the eternity... "I spent all my life sitting on that chair / Trying to understand, trying to be fair / Many and many lives I had in my hand / I was a judge, I was like God / They gave the power to punish with my rod...".

The next three tracks are also taken from E.A. Poe's poems. "The Valley Of Unrest" features an ethereal, sad atmosphere evoking perennial tears which descend in gems from a cloudy sky, "To Helen" features a strong classical inspiration and is an unconventional ode to beauty while the delicate, introspective "Alone" expresses isolation and inner torment. Then comes "Masquerade (Fast & Short)", just an appetizer for the long conclusive suite.

The nice classical inspired instrumental "Intro (Classic Guitar Prelude)" leads to the mysterious, mystic "Slave Of The Holy Mountain" which describes an unsuccessful, metaphorical climbing to Heaven. The following "Dreamland" is another good track inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's powerful poetry and precedes a beautiful, dark instrumental titled "The Haunted Palace".

The last track, "Masquerade (With Dance Macabre)", is a long, complex suite divided into five parts. It describes a strange dream and reminds me of the atmosphere of a H.P. Lovecraft's story... "There in the moonlight that flooded the spacious plain was a spectacle which no mortal, having seen it, could ever forget. To the sound of reedy pipes that echoed over the bog there glided silently and eerily a mixed throng of swaying figures, reeling through such a revel as the Sicilians may have danced to Demeter in the old days under the harvest moon beside the Cyane. The wide plain, the golden moonlight, the shadowy moving forms, and above all the shrill monotonous piping, produced an effect which almost paralysed me...". (H.P. Lovecraft, The Moon-Bog). The musical texture here is extremely rich, there are many nuances and every time you'll listen to this piece you'll discover something new...

Well, all in all I think that this is a very good album... Have a try!

Report this review (#926730)
Posted Friday, March 8, 2013 | Review Permalink

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