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Gran Torino

Heavy Prog

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4 stars The Italian band GRANTORINO, in this first albun "Grantorinoprog", presents a progressive rock something different of the most of Italian Prog bands. Their sound is a very personal and a creative mix of heavy/symphonic styles and in like manner is not much easy to identify what bands have an influence in their sonority. Although, such influences seems coming from bands like KANSAS ( in the more heavy moments, like in the overture of track 5 "Miridiana"), FOCUS (in certain keyboards and guitar passages), GENTLE GIANT ( listen the hammond organ melody in the track 5 "Miridiana" that remenber cleary "Freehand" from GG). Another particularity is the use of "Talk-Box' in the track 3 "Rock Waters", a guitar effect unusual in progressive rock. My rate is 4 stars !!!
Report this review (#516712)
Posted Wednesday, September 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
3 stars I have to say whenever I see the physical word 'prog' in a band's name, album title, or song title I start to get a little worried. So when I first spun Italian newbies Gran Torino's debut grantorinoProg, you can imagine my trepidation. Any band who acknowledges the fact that their music is 'prog' in such a flamboyant manner is bound to be a little on the pretentious side. And such is the case with Gran Torino's debut. Now don't get me wrong, the band's combination of the classic Hammond and other keyboard noodling with guitar riffs and solos makes for a wonderful and very well crafted heavy prog album, but the general atmosphere of 'hey guys, we're a prog band!' is a bit disquieting. Unnecessary time changes, typical 'prog' instrumental flourishes ' la Rush and Led Zeppelin, a general air of virtuosity and other very typical prog qualities are present on the album and, while of course this is in no way a bad thing, make the album generally fall into the dome of mediocrity.

The Italian quartet's sound can best be described as a Led Zepellinian hard rock mixed with a Rush-inspired progressive outlook with an Atomic Rooster and Deep Purple based melody section. Now of course the whole thing is instrumental, so you can expect plenty of room for the four guys to noodle around their instruments in interesting ways. The instrumental voicings understandably aren't gracefully Baroque or musically intense, but the harmony between the blocky Hammond riffs, guitar lines, bass beats, and drumming make for a nice vintage twang. While when the keyboardist switches from Hammond to whatever else he uses isn't the greatest sound the band could conjure up, the guys are no strangers of whipping out a nice instrumental jam session.

Admittedly the album isn't the most breathtaking progressive offering to date, the boys from Gran Torino have produced a high quality and overall well-presented album to the progressive community. The compositions are tight and well-formed, with the copious amounts of wiggle room apparent in the obvious jam-like feel that permeates the album. The musicianship and timing could be improved in places, but overall the balance of virtuosity and keeping the compositions compositions is well-performed. The 40-something minute album can seem to drag on a bit with the rather repetitive structures of the songs (or lack thereof), but overall this album is a good release from the great Galileo Records. 3 stars.

Report this review (#572075)
Posted Sunday, November 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars This is the debut for heavy proggers GRAN TORINO from Italy. I felt like Andy did as he mentioned in his review that seeing the word "prog" in the album's title made him a little worried. I think I rolled my eyes. Not to worry though as this is a good all-instrumental album.

"Sinapsi" is a fairly bombastic tune with lots of organ. "Jack Montorio" has this repeated guitar line as drums and background synths help out. A change 3 1/2 minutes in as we get some bombast. "Rock Waters" is drum and organ led to start then the guitar arrives before a minute. It picks up after 3 1/2 minutes and synths come in a minute later. "Joy" has lots of tempo changes. It's okay. "Miridiana" sounds great to open and the organ joins in as well. Good track.

"Fox Box" is uptempo at times and I like the guitar. It's hit and miss though. "Five" is a good one and I like the way it builds. "Radio Vox" is led by the guitar before 2 1/2 minutes. "Eco" is kind of spacey to start. Keyboards lead before a minute then a heavy rhythm joins in. Nice. Piano after 3 minutes. "Zorro" becomes fuller before 1 1/2 minutes with guitar. Piano is back leading a minute later then guitar again as it continues to play out.

A low 3 stars but certainly an album I can see a lot of Heavy Prog fans enjoying.

Report this review (#754221)
Posted Wednesday, May 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Gran Torino come from Verona and their roots date back to 2000 when Cristiano Pallaoro (guitars), Alessio Pieri (keyboards, piano), Gian Maria Roveda (drums) and Fabrizio Visentini Visas (bass) started to play for fun as a cover band. In 2009 they began to work on a more ambitious project featuring only original compositions blending influences of bands such as PFM, Genesis, Spock's Beard or Kansas with a personal touch. In 2011 they finally released an interesting debut album on the Swiss independent label Galileo Records, 'grantorinoProg', featuring ten instrumental tracks and a nice art work by Mark Wilkinson. The band showcase here an excellent musicianship and the music flows away like a river on the rocks with a great interplay between keyboards and guitar and a pulsing rhythm section in the background.

Although all the tracks are completely instrumental the band provided some short liner notes for every track, just to give you an idea of what the music is about. The opener 'Sinapsi' is full of obscure energy and invites you to dream and vibrate to the rhythm of music... 'You sleep but you can hear it. You don't know what is it, but you know it is real...'. Some passages recall Goblin and are painted in disquieting deep red colours. The following 'Jack Montorio' tries to evoke a search for tranquillity that drives you far away from home and an emotional storm due to a broken relationship. On the powerful 'Rock Waters' the electric guitar comes alive while the music is in some way related to the images of the art cover. Next comes 'Joy' where the band mix Eastern flavoured harmonies with neoclassical influences inviting you to seize the day.

'Miridiana' is another excellent track full of colours. A mysterious woman paints her face with red eastern dust and looks towards the horizon while ancient maps resurface in her mind... 'Fox Box' is frenzied, claustrophobic. You can run and jump like a fox in a box but you can't break through because the only freedom is in your mind. For this track the band shot a video set in the Roman Theatre of Verona.

'Five' is a nice short acoustic track that leads to the aggressive 'Radio Vox' where the electric guitar is the protagonist. The following 'Eco' recalls Goblin once again with its suggestive atmosphere and its dark organ rides backed by the rhythm section. The long final track, 'Zorro', starts calmly, the mood is dreamy, nocturnal... 'A mask hides your face, a sword defends your feelings. Harmony takes away the mask, melody defeats the sword, and you fly on the wings of your instrument...'.

Well, all in all I think that this is a very good album where the musicians managed to express all their great passion for the music they love without sounding too retro.

Report this review (#846112)
Posted Sunday, October 28, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Unexpected great , well played and full of intresting moments this first album named grantorinoProg from 2011 of the italian band Gran Torino. Progressive/jazz fusion is what they offer, but a fine one all the way. Formed in 2000 in Verona they manage to come with first opus only in 2011. Musicaly speaking this release is almost in places spectacular to my ears, the musicianship is excellent, they play very easy on instruments, creating some great moments here. The opening track Sinapsi shows what potential this band has, with nice keyboards and overall atmosphere. Fox Box or Miridiani are another great pieces with a lot to offer with complex arrangements, nice breaks, tepo changes. All pieces are instrumental So, a very solid release that goes recommended for sure, the band exploring all the prog/jazz fusion realm and the resoult is quite enjoyble. Very nice cover art that goes hand in hand with the music. 4 stars easy.
Report this review (#943195)
Posted Saturday, April 13, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Is this still possible in 2011?

Grinding my way through Italian Prog releases, I do come across the odd, real gem and GRAN TORINO is one of those. Contrary to stated influences, I find little resemblance to KANSAS, DP, or LZ - the latter two I am more in favor of. This release may be closer to a STEVE MORSE side project, or perhaps DJAM KARET on speed.

Heavy-Prog it may be, but the works are equally Symphonic and refreshing at this day and age. An all instrumental work from beginning to end. these guys deliver robust and spirited pieces with no filler material thrown in. There is a slight hint of Metal in places, but not enough to dominate.

Overall, it's an excellent debut album and if these guys were to further evolve and refine their skills, they'd be the darlings of the current Prog scene.

Easily a 4 plus and I am looking forward to further releases.

Report this review (#943729)
Posted Monday, April 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Italian group Gran Torino hails from Verona and started back in 2000 as a cover band, giving it a try to Hard/Heavy Rock classics produced by legends such as Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple.Over the years though they developed a more prog-inclined repertoire and with the formation of Cristiano Pallaoro on guitar, Alessio Pieri on keyboards, Gian Maria Roveda on drums and Fabrizio Visentini on bass they recorded their debut at Sotto il Mare Records and Gocce Musicali Recording, both placed in their hometown.Entitled ''GrantorinoProg'', the first album of the group was released on Galileo Records.

The title of the album maybe sounds very simplistic and even cheesy, but the music in ''GrantorinoProg'' is exactly the opposite.This is fairly complex, highly rhythmic and intricate Heavy Prog with massive riffs, powerful grooves, tons of twists and big symphonic keyboards.Additionally the group shows a high respect to the Classic Prog era with the extended use of Hammond organ, delivering dynamic waves and long, irritating runs.The music is all instrumental, divided in ten rather short tracks, but the group manages to fill these 5 or 6 minutes with compressed, interesting ideas, ranging from tapping, extremely energetic rhythms, sudden shifting tempos in an quasi-Fusion enviroment and a discreet symphonic aura in the more grandiose synth passages, close to the sound of EXPLORERS CLUB.The whole amalgam is very close to Americans VISUAL CLIFF, eventually offering a balanced effort of memorable tunes, good technique and atmospheric textures.Even for fans of intricate Prog Metal there is something to like in here, as plenty of the guitar moves sound quite metallic and the keyboard work has a few in common with a mass of Symphonic Metal bands at moments.Gran Torino though never forget to deliver a nice melodic part here and there, thus satisfying the listener of less intricate and more melodious musical themes.

Definitely a group to follow.Gran Torino's debut offers an incredible instrumental flexibility, wrapped in a nice Heavy Prog package full of dramatic and atmospheric performances.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1010727)
Posted Sunday, August 4, 2013 | Review Permalink

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