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Yggdrazil - Settimo Grado di Separazione CD (album) cover

SETTIMO GRADO DI SEPARAZIONE

Yggdrazil

Heavy Prog


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Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars YGGDRAZIL was, or perhaps still is, an Italian band, whose sole release so far is "Settimo Grado di Separazione". The album was originally self-released back in 2005, but has now been reissued by fledgling Italian label Psych-Up Melodies.

And it is a fairly challenging production we're given the chance to re-experience on this occasion. Not that the music is extraordinary inventive as such, but it has been made and produced in a manner that will make it a taxing experience for most listeners.

Basically there are two different aspects to this bands compositions. On one hand you have relatively dampened, melodic sequences, where a mildly resonating light toned guitars caters for the main thematic aspects, supported nice and steadily by bass and drums, where especially the former may take on some intricate and energetic runs time and again. The other half of this bands stylistic expression resides well within the metal universe, featuring quirky, dark toned riff constructions of a kind and character that should please fans of bands such as Tool.

What sets this band slightly apart, other than this Radiohead meets Tool kind of dualism, is frequent use of psych-tinged guitar details and a somewhat original compositional approach. This is a band fond of twisting and turning the compositions throughout, often making it hard to keep track of the proceedings, and this CD will take both time and dedication to get familiar with due to that. Especially as they also alter and twist the instrument palette in the vocal passages. And when the vocals both in delivery and mix have been given a rather dominant position, keeping track of ever altering instrumental manoeuvres at the same time as a lead vocalist with a distinctly insisting presence that has been given a placement in the arrangements is vying for your attention, then loosing track of events is something that is bound to happen sooner or later. It's only when you get to be highly familiar with this production that I guess you'll eventually discover how much or not you actually like it, the first few runs through it will eventually be an exercise in keeping track of developments more than anything.

At best this is an intriguing band however. The loose fragmented dampened piece Lizard, that eventually settles into a build-up for the following intense piece Gig, is among the finer experiences on the CD. And final track Separazione, where Yggdrazil calms down ever so slightly their ever twisting and turning compositional development, showcase the band at their arguably best.

The end result is a somewhat chaotic, psychedelic-flavoured production that I guess will be mostly of interest to fans of Tool and to some extent Radiohead, at least those amongst them who tends to enjoy fairly intricate and challenging musical endeavours. Existing fans might also note that this reissue sports just over 30 minutes of additional material. These are low-fi, low quality recordings however, and as such mostly of interest to avid fans who'd like to listen to more material from this band no matter the quality of it.

Report this review (#912243)
Posted Sunday, February 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
2 stars Let me start by saying that the "7th Degree of Separation" by Yggdrazil is a very difficult album to review, and that is because the album is divided in two broad aspects. The first is the compositional/executional side and the second is the production/structure of the album.

In terms of composition, ideas and execution, this is a very interesting result: a quite dark, psychedelic heavy prog amalgam with influences both from the heavier end of the spectrum (e.g. see 'Conception of Time' where snippets of Psychotic Waltz can be heard) and the more melodic, layered structures of clean-guitar driven passages found predominantly in 'Every Man' but also in 'By my Time' and 'Specular'. It is extremely hard to categorise the music, as at one time it comes out as bombastic progressive metal, other times turns to eclectic avant with odd-time signatures ('Gig'), deceives you by following more standard heavy prog patterns in the vein of Enchant and Rush and finally presents a grandiose epic composition in 'Separazione' that mixes all of the above with Italian lyrics.

The low point that, in my opinion, buries the final result is the quality and mixing of the vocals with the instrumental part. At times out of tune and not really agglomerating with the music, the vocals are executed and mixed in a way that the listener might feel that they should not have been part of the equation. Even during the high-point of this album, 'Separazione', while the heavy rock passages interchange with jazz-influenced, bass-filled interludes and the ideas are flowing one after another, the vocals are there to stop the track from achieving its real potential. Further to this, the production is of low standards and I presume that Psych Up Melodies did not further process the result to establish a more listenable sound experience when this album was re-released in 2012 (e.g. the guitars in 'Specular' are like being recorded in a room studio, as with the sound of the drums during the whole album). Structure-wise the ideas are plenty but not necessarily glued together, as it appears that each song reflects different styles; however, this latter observation is not the determining factor for the end result.

If this album was re-recorded from scratch we might have been talking about a very good and quite intricate release by Yggdrazil, a quite unusual band for the Italian scene. As it stands though, I cannot assign this with more than 2.5 stars (it could have been 3.5 easily!) with my thanks to the label for sending us the promo.

High points: Separazione, Conception of Time

PS. The 30 minutes of outtakes (low-fi material) in the 2012 version don't add anything to the quality of the album.

Originally compiled for www.justincaseradio.com

Report this review (#917718)
Posted Friday, February 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
Modrigue
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Heavy gothico-zheulo-prog metal?

Like the other releases from the Psych Up Melodies label, YGGDRAZIL's "Settimo Grado Di Separazione" ("Seventh Degree of Separation" in English) is a quite strange and hard to describe album. First and only opus to date by this obscure Italian band, taking their name from Northern mythology, the music displays a singular dark and esoteric ambiance, borrowing from various different styles. Almost constantly taken by surprise, the listener will travel through an unknown parallel dimension, moving from hard rock, heavy prog to progressive metal via gothic, cold- wave and zheul-esque wormholes. The mystical impression is reinforced the vocalist's chameleon unusual raw and high-pitched falsetto vocals. The compositions are rather homogeneous in terms of quality, contain many changes, as well as elaborated rhythm structures.

From the beginning, you know you're in for something special. Starting on a heavy prog tonality, "Conception of Time" turns into a powerful heavy progressive metal title, then to a 80's goth / cold wave lament, to finally conclude as a somehow rock ballad! Completely different, the dreary "Lizard" evokes an incantatory ritual chant with its Middle-Eastern accents, and abruptly introduces the nonsense fast-paced "Gig", entirely reversing the peaceful atmosphere. This indescribable track resembles Zheul with various digressions, however dissonant and not really united. My least favorite passage from the record. But even more surprising is what comes next. "Every Man" is a much more classic melancholic hard rock song, both pretty and strong, with a very usual structure. The last kind of track you would expect to find in such an eerie disc! By contradiction, that's why this album is unpredictable.

Opening with beautiful arpeggios, the soft gloomy "By my Time" slightly morphs into complex tortured prog metal. With its high-pitched vocals, this composition may remind a little FATES WARNING. Interesting and varied, although a bit messy at times. Back to calm with the hazy "Specular", a smooth ethereal cold wave title that suddenly unleashes raging numerous saturated soli. Longest song of the record, "Separazione" is a worthy powerful conclusion for such musical trip. Its dark progressive metal tone contrasts with the strange falsetto vocals and the mesmerizing passages, building a mystical atmosphere, summoning the ancient spirits of the sky... Great!

The 2012 Psych Up Melodies re-release includes four bonus tracks, consisting just in low quality demos, rather optional.

Despite a few moments hard to follow, "Settimo Grado Di Separazione" possesses a genuine particular ambiance. Difficult to categorize, YGGDRAZIL is constantly shifting from a genre to another, nearly fooling its audience musically, but not in terms of interest and inspiration. Don't expect walking on an establish path, prepare for an uncommon journey instead.

A very strange and original album, recommended if you like to venture into obscure, tortured heavy prog / prog metal territories, not without certain slices of both known and unknown...

Report this review (#1695901)
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2017 | Review Permalink

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