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ISTINTO

Conqueror

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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4 stars ****1/2

The debut album by this contemporary Italian group is among the best new symphonic releases in recent years. They come from Sicily just like two other somewhat well known Italian bands Malibran and Randone. The musical approach of this group is melodic but they have a certain rough edge as well that balances the overall sound nicely. It has to be mentioned that the keyboardist/vocalist Simona Rigano is indeed a female. Her work in this album is splendid and occasionally her beautiful work both on keyboards and serene vocals overshadow the rest. However, despite her wonderful contribution this is a great teamwork. The guitarist plays perfectly along the keyboards and the rhythm section seems to keep the whole package tight. For a debut album this is a mature work. If you like melodic Italian symphonic in the style of the seventies masters, but with a modern sound, this album is not to be missed.

Best tracks include "Storie di Favole", "Quartar", "Pensieri Fragili" and "Cristalli di Solitudine" but the rest four tracks are excellent as well. There are not any tracks that are clearly weaker than the others and that alone is a good sign of the level of this band.

After this album there seems to be some line-up changes but I hope the band manages continue in the path they have chosen with Istinto.

Conclusion: An impressive debut!

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Send comments to geezer (BETA) | Report this review (#42499)
Posted Thursday, August 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
andrea
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars "Istinto" is the first album by Conqueror, an interesting Italian band from Sicily. This debut album was self-produced by the band and perhaps the sound quality is not flawless, but you can find here some very interesting ideas... The music draws on the Italian "prog-masters" of the Seventies like BMS, PFM or Goblin, but the song-writing is good enough and the soaring melodic voice of Simona Rigano gives a touch of "lightness" to the compositions...

In my opinion, on this work there are just a few excellent tracks like the dreamy "Quartar", the quirky "Porte straniere" and the long instrumental "Entropia", but the overall quality is not bad at all... Lyrics are a little bit "naive", as if the words were suspended "among the clouds of a dream" but they perfectly fit a music that seems desperately trying to "break through the barriers of time"...

On the whole "Istinto" is a good album but not an essential one... If you are not familiar with this excellent band I suggest starting with "Storie fuori dal tempo" or "74 giorni"...

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Send comments to andrea (BETA) | Report this review (#148458)
Posted Thursday, November 01, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars It is frankly a pity that so few reviews are posted for this album (and the band more generally). As if it weren't only a few classic Italian prog bands (in their early days) that made this genre so fantastic.

If ever, like me, you have succumbed to wonderful melodies, you are "under influence" of some fine female vocals, you appreciate delicate keyboards passages and at the same time a harder aspect doesn't bother you; I guess that you are ready for a "Conqueror" experience. And let yourself be conquered. You're just entering a wonderful moment.

Great songs are plenty.

From the upbeat opener "Storie Di Favole" to the closing "Entropia". It is true to say that the band has a harder sound than most of his legendary predecessors; but this is a general tendency in prog music nowadays, right?

"Conqueror" integrated some heavy and new sounds into their magnificent and genuine Italian music. This led to a jewel of an album which is full of masterpieces. "Quartar" being the first of them. But it only opens the fires to several ones.

Feeling, skills, harmony, power. These are the ingredients of another superb song here. "Pensieri Fragili" is just keeping up the quality. A wonderful mix of prog metal combined with soft Italian prog. I am just discovering this mix, and I believe it is exceptional. Keyboards are wonderful. I am just captivated. Would you follow me in the trip so that I don't feel alone during "Cristalli Di Solitudine"? Even if some synth sounds are Banks oriented, it is a wonderful song which features some passionate guitar as well. The middle part solo is extraordinary. But this would be too reductive. This song is just outstanding. It is not a highlight. It is a jewel.

This album is such a beauty. Almost indecent. Difficult to find any defect. But at the end of the day, this is the true miracle of music. To discover true gems almost out of the blue. It has been quite a while that I haven't been so moved by a band. I guess that the last one another great Italian prog one. (La Maschera).

The instrumental "Conqueror" conveys a fantastic emotion. While you listen to the fabulous intro of "Entropia", you will be automatically brought back into the wonders of "Firth Of Firth" from whom you might know.

I have been listening to this album three times in just two days and I can't be tired of it. It is full of passion and wonders. Do me (and yourself) a favour: have a listen to this fantastic and unknown record. It is a great album. You might know that I am rather scarce in providing five stars (only five per cent of my reviews approximately). This record reaches the level IMHHO.

Not a single weak moment. No repetitive music. Excellent instrumental parts and convincing vocals. Gorgeous compositions. What else do we need? More reviews, I guess. Wake up guys, you the Italian prog specialists. There is a gem here.

Five stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#181056)
Posted Friday, August 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars It was ZowieZiggy's enthusiasm for this band that made me take the plunge, and boy am I glad I did. Very pleasant female Italian vocals from Simona who also adds some beautiful synths and piano to the soundscapes. The guitar is so melodic, just a pleasure to listen to. These guys can get heavy as well which suits me fine. I've been holding off reviewing this album just so I can listen to it some more.

"Storie Di Favole" is one of my favourites on here. It opens with this relaxed mood as vocals come in. Some gorgeous guitar after a minute as synths continue to wash in. A synth solo follows and the guitar comes back more aggressively. Back to the vocals and that pastoral sound. The synths 3 minutes in remind me of another band I can't think of but man I love this section. The guitar comes in around 4 1/2 minutes to end it. "Quartar" is more uptempo with piano and a heavier sound. Vocals before a minute. It settles down 1 1/2 minutes in only to kick back in 2 minutes in. The contrast continues. Nice guitar solo 5 1/2 minutes in to end it. "Pensieri Fragili" opens with piano. Drums join in around a minute, while a full sound arrives a minute later. The guitar is excellent. Vocals don't come in until after 3 1/2 minutes. Heavy drums and prominant guitar 5 1/2 minutes in with background synths. The guitar solo 6 minutes in is simply beautifull. Great sound.

"La Strada Del Graal" opens with guitar as vocals come in. Male vocals too but they're brief. A calm 2 1/2 minutes in. Drums change that before 4 minutes as they come pounding in with synths. Vocals return with the main melody. Love the guitar. "In The Cave" features a good heavy sound as vocals and guitar lead the way. Synths come and go. This is another favourite of mine. "Cristalli Di Solitudine" is drum led as vocals come in before a minute. Lots of bottom end 2 minutes in. Swirling synths before 4 minutes with some great guitar to follow. The tempo picks up 6 minutes in. "Porte Straniere" has lots of tempo shifts early. The tempo picks up with piano leading the way. Vocals before 2 1/2 minutes. Tasteful guitar 3 minutes in and later at 5 1/2 minutes. "Entropia" starts slowly but builds. The guitar soars after 2 minutes. A change before 5 minutes as it gets heavier and faster. It settles 6 1/2 minutes in. Guitar and a heavy sound a minute later. Lots of synths to end it.

I liked this one from the very first listen.This is very melodic music and it makes me feel so good. Beautiful guitar leads with the vocals to match.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#188752)
Posted Monday, November 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
4 stars Coming from near the town of Taormina on the island of Sicily,CONQUEROR began their prog journey in 1994 recording songs and performing live until 1999,when the group made a small pause.A new challenge for the band started in 2002 with CONQUEROR's fresh line-up creating new material for their debut album.

''Instinto'' came out the following year,suprising prog fans with its inner power and rising grandiosity.With a remarkable personal sound,CONQUEROR deliver heavy and atmospheric symphonic rock with fantastic keyboard work,changing rhythms,strong melodies and most of all an inspiring mood of growing emotions.One of the band's aces is Simona Rigano's vocals...a voice with an untold innocence and an almost childish harmony,which is one of the best female singers I have ever had the chance to listen to!Apart from the excellent vocals,the compositions feature trully memorable guitar riffs and melodies,nice symphonic-oriented keyboards and a mood for sensitive orchestrations,which work extremely well and result an effort deeped into melody,intensity and atmosphere.Definitely a highlight of modern Italian prog,''Instinto'' will please every fan of melodic yet adventuruous progressive rock and comes as an absolutely essential release in my books!

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#205510)
Posted Thursday, March 05, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Thanks to Natale Russo: I wonder if the first two albums are still in the Conqueror catalog ... And he sends them to me... And this 'Istinto' with ? 5,00 of discount!

'Istinto' (eng: 'Instinct') is an album that smells of oranges, lemons and almond trees in bloom! And in my opinion 'Istinto' is also one of the more good albums of RPI, because 100% Italian but at the same time open to contamination from outside without the typical transformations of the 70's! In a certain sense 'Istinto' sounds like a new album from Le Orme but with less baroque impact and with more magic, feeling and emotions. Sure the guitars of Gaetano Scarcella are very (too?) Neoclassical. But in the end, this too is a hallmark of this 'Istinto'. 'Istinto' is also forged with the inspiration of Queen, PFM, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso and other Italian Prog bands but also with 80's Rock (Journey, Toto, Aviator, Rush, etc...) so to produce an album not so distant for an RPI version of Deep Purple. It is true, also, that I heard in attentive manner also Il Castello Di Atlante and yes... These two bands are similars. Conqueror not use Van Der Graff Generator or Gentle Giant for inspirations (and in this sense this is a surprise for an RPI band) also if Pink Floyd and Genesis are good inspirations (hey... After all we are talking about an Italian band... We're not talking peanuts...!).

Speaking about 'Istinto'... Noteworthy, is in the foreground they want to put the magic of emotion. The construction of the songs is simple: Neoclassical guitar, tons of Rock mixed with Classic Music and Genesis (Peter Gabriel's Genesis) but with a great female touch. And this is a pure surprise for me. Simona Rigano be compared to Walt Disney's Bambi or Minnie Mouse... Only then comes to my mind Grandma Duck! Is hard not to fall in love with his voice (as for Donald Duck is hard not to fall in love with the cake of Grandma Duck!) and this is due to her beautiful voice.

I do not have a preferred song in this 'Istinto'. Honestly I admit that it is extremely difficult to describe how I feel when I listening these songs. Every day I discover new colors and new emotions. I should probably retire in a Tibetan monastery to discover the truth!

Great debut album, sure! Of Course...

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Send comments to 1967/ 1976 (BETA) | Report this review (#236623)
Posted Thursday, September 03, 2009 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars RPI isn’t really my bag, mostly because I don’t understand the Italian language and a lot of the marquee Italian acts tend to embellish in their music a bit too much for my tastes. Then again it seems like the most well-known groups of this genre are also from days gone by. Conqueror by contrast is a relatively new band and seems to have successfully fused the best of modern rock, some nuances of symphonic prog arrangements, and Italian expressiveness into a pretty appealing album. Kudos to them for that.

I picked this one up only because the band has a female singer who doubles as the group’s keyboardist. I’m a sucker for female prog singers as IMHO they almost always improve a band’s sound and give warmth and range to the instrumental side of the songs. This album is no exception. Simona Rigano reminds me a lot of the Gathering’s former lead singer Anneke van Giersbergen, especially the way she sang on her last record with that group, ‘Home’. Check out “Quarter” and “Porte Straniere” and compare them to the Gathering’s “A Noise Severe” and “Box” and you should hear the same resemblance.

The piano really stands out on several tracks here, particularly with “Pensieri Fragili” and the slightly more strident but equally charming “Porte Straniere”. Ms. Rigano can definitely play as well as she can sing.

Gaetano Scarcella’s guitar playing is a bit reminiscent of the early Mostly Autumn albums before that group got a little too pretentious. And considering the only other instruments are bass and drums, the group does a very good job of presenting a full, rich sound even without the layers of synthesizers or strings I would normally expect from a more traditional Italian prog band. That’s not to say a couple of violins or a cello wouldn’t have improved their sound; they probably would have. But it wasn’t until the third spin that I realized the instrument lineup is pretty much just your basic rock band fare, and that’s a testament to their great playing and ambitious arrangements.

There are a couple parts where the digital keyboards get just a bit cheesy and overdone, mostly on “Porte Straniere” and to a lesser extent the closing “Entropia”, but for the most part I enjoyed every song on the album.

I haven’t heard anything else by the band so don’t know if this is as good as they got, but considering this is their debut and they’ve released a couple more since it’s a safe bet they must be improving or at least have developed a following or their label wouldn’t be spending money on them. This first one was self-released, so the production quality is a bit inconsistent, but only noticeable if you are playing this on a good sound system and really paying attention. Otherwise I’ve no complaints.

Easily three stars for a decent record from an apparently up-and-coming band. Recommend for neo-prog fans and Italian proggers who are willing to look beyond PFM and the seventies for some decent Italian prog.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#255339)
Posted Wednesday, December 09, 2009 | Review Permalink

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