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Antonius Rex

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Antonius Rex Neque Semper Arcum Tendit Rex album cover
2.87 | 32 ratings | 4 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Neque Semper Arcum (8:37)
2. Pactus (8:30)
3. In Hoc Signo Vinces (4:25)
4. Non Fiat Voluntas Tua (6:55)
5. Devil Letter (9:09)
6. Aquila Non Capit Muscas (5:51)

Total time 43:27

Line-up / Musicians

- Antonio Bartoccetti / guitar, bass, vocals
- Doris Norton / organ, piano, Moog
- Albert Goodman / percussion, vocals (5)

Releases information

LP Darkness - DRK 4018 (1974, Italy)
LP Black Widow Records ‎? BWR 066 (2002, Italy) Remastered by Annie Taylor

CD Black Widow Records ‎? BWRCD 066-2 (2002, Italy) Remastered by Annie Taylor

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ANTONIUS REX Neque Semper Arcum Tendit Rex ratings distribution

(32 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(16%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (19%)
Poor. Only for completionists (9%)

ANTONIUS REX Neque Semper Arcum Tendit Rex reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Heptade
1 stars Wow, I'm the first to review this...and it's no surprise. I'm not sure what Bartoccetti and Norton were up to here, in fact through their whole career. Let's see, scary Latin vocals, church organ, some piano percussion, guitar, all the elements are there, but no organization. This album sounds like the demos for a horror movie, but there is no cohesion at all. I like ambient music, but this doesn't even qualify as that. And it's not scary! Sorry, sir, but Satanic you ain't. The Iommi/Blackmore-wannabe guitar soloing is totally out of place! The blues definitely ain't scary at all!The big distorted riffs totally jar with the organ, making for a cheezy and unpleasant mixture. The organ itself is nice, and a bit different, but it takes more than that to make an album...some pieces would be nice. At least this is better than the Jacula album, which is similar but even more boring. I really wanted to like this, but I just can't.
Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars From Jacula to Antonius Rex

The second and final Jacula album released in 1972 is one of a very small percentage of albums I consider a masterpiece. (I try to reserve the word "masterpiece" and the five-star rating for about the top 5% of titles because I want it to have significance-when overused the rating is of little value or meaning to me.) Good as it was however, it was an utter commercial failure. This was almost certainly seen as a positive by the album's genius composers, the beautiful and multi-talented Doris Norton and her "prince of darkness" Antonio Bartoccetti. The two have been collaborators since the mid 60s and became husband/wife at some point in the 70s I believe. While the timeline is difficult for me to discern the next couple years saw Bartoccetti complete a mandatory military service (which he despised) and form a new band called Invisible Force which was just as quickly dissolved. His turbulence with Jacula/Force organist Charles Tiring was no longer tenable and Tiring was sent off into the moonlight. This was likely a huge feeling of freedom for Bartoccetti and Norton; Tiring, like him or not, was an undeniably large presence on the two Jacula albums. Now Norton would assume a greater role taking over all keyboards as the two formed the new band Antonius Rex, a project which survives to this day. In 1974, after completing his military service the two traveled to London where they met a wealthy eccentric named Albert Goodman. Goodman was a practitioner of the occult who owned land, castles, and a recording label-he also fancied himself a drummer although this would prove a real stretch. He soon became the third member of Antonius Rex. The three joined engineer Colin Coldweis in Milan and would spend several weeks recording and mixing the album which was then produced by Goodman. They did a good job as even by today's standard the album has quality sound. Goodman was thrilled with the results of the album and tried to stoke more interest with some associates at Vertigo Records, but the label objected to the "occult letter" on the cover as well as the track called "Devil Letter." They wanted changes made but of course Bartoccetti is not the kind of guy who caves to the whims of suits. Still another record company was excited about the new album and wanted to obtain Rex for future work of a more commercial nature I would guess, but Rex were losing interest in such endeavors by the mid 70s..more on that in later reviews.

"Neque Semper is the desire to do, putting one's mystically inquiring super-ego on the top of a mountain and above the mortal beings. I think that Neque semper can be described as a concept coming from the dark of a black and white castle with differently lit rooms. Magic worlds, and self super-ego celebration. The fatal will to condemn the Human lownesses" [A.B.]

The sound of the newly born Antonius Rex is not so different from that of Jacula. Fans of Jacula are going to appreciate this group and if you happened to hate the Jacula albums there is little chance you will like the new band. And yet there is a somewhat different energy to this incarnation of Bartoccetti's vision. Gone is the dry maturity and formal style of Charles Tiring's organ playing replaced by Doris Norton's enthusiastic and experimental approach. More enthusiasm comes from Albert Goodman who was obviously thrilled to be performing on an album, selling his very limited percussion skills with spirit. That's right, Albert Goodman is not a great drummer but rather an amateur by the sound of it. At times, you will hear fills and transitions that you could play better yourself and you will cringe I'm sorry to say. And yet this drumming does not wreck the best parts of the album and may well enhance them via simplicity. Because like Jacula, Antonius Rex is not a rock and roll band in my view, they are purveyors of experimental musical textures who occasional use the tools of rock and roll.most notably the considerable Gibson SG wailings of Bartoccetti which can sound like Iomni but did so before the Sabbath debut, an important fact to keep in mind when speculating on the origins of doom music. There is much more lead electric wailing here than the previous Jacula release and much more tribal energy courtesy of Goodman's relentless tympani and bass drum assaults. Bartoccetti would tell Augusto Croce that "Neque Semper" represents "the evolution of Doris Norton, maybe because unconsciously she wanted to demonstrate to organist Charles Tiring that she too could play very well the classical organ, that she deeply studied for three long years; she was great as well with mini-moog, and also created bass and rhythm parts." To offer the uninitiated a workable description of the feel of "Neque" think about a proggy Sabbath side project where Tony ditched his three mates and took up instead with a group of experimentalists to make an album full of doomy atmospherics, organ and piano backgrounds, creepy spoken word vocals, and even a bit of harpsichord. The results would not be aimed towards a headbanging rock show fronted by a wildman vocalist but at a small group of devotees seeking a unique mystical, esoteric experience, perhaps not all that different from hard core fans of the unashamed full length Comus debut. True lovers of the cryptic and unknowable night walking spirits. Strange and haunting, certainly forging their own path as opposed to embracing any camaraderie with mainstream audiences or fellow bands of the period.

While "Neque Semper" does not thrill me to the degree of the second Jacula album there are some wonderful highlights for the dark prog lover within. The leading title track delivers an ominous building of tension that culminates in an explosive, distortion-loaded SG solo full of fire. Behind the wailing is Doris' organ and piano parts running both "along with" and "counter to" the guitar, dramatic, with great contrast in sound texture, all being clocked to Goldman's funeral dirge drumming. My personal favorite is the next gem "Pactus" where Doris applies Moog effects (I think) over the cathedral organ sound. She bends and twists the organ making you feel as if you ears are not processing sound correctly, adding a truly hallucinatory experience which is fabulous! After some narration, Antonio treats you with some laid back "doom jazz" chord sequences while Goodman does his finest work here, sort of a catchy beat with what sounds like some hand percussion. Both the clean and distorted electric solos over the chords are a bit funky and absolute bliss when the keys of Doris add an uplifting mood near the end, perhaps one of Rex' more ethereal, "up" moments. It ends with another blast of the mind bending organ. "Devil Letter" opens another front where Rex would excel on later albums, creating mini-theater pieces where their trademark sound would be combined much more with "haunted house" type sound effects and story, in this case we have what sounds like a man's final encounter with evil.and it certainly doesn't end well for him. This is approaching campier storytelling in some respects but is a lot of fun if you enjoy that sort of thing. The album's other three tracks do not rise to the same level for me as the three above or the Jacula material. In these songs there is a bit of monotony and repetition coming from the more overt attempts to rock. Goodman is simply not Bill Ward and when Bartoccetti attempts a more driving rock structure the limitations of Rex become apparent-they are an amazing atmospheric collective but they can't get to certain places which require a Bill Ward. In these tracks where the guitar and drum are attempting a somewhat conventional heavy power-chord or riff-driven approach, it is only Norton who is really shining. Her playing is just simply wonderful throughout this album, she fills the shoes of Charles Tiring and then some. While Tiring had his own accomplished and haunting vibe that cannot exactly be duplicated, Doris Norton admirably embraced the challenge and gave this album much personality. She brings emotions home that Tiring could not have, a different kind of longing feeling with both sadness and joy buried in waves of sound. Having come to this music quite late in my life, it is amazing to me how powerful the sound of the church organ can be. When combined with emotive, unconventional vocals the overall effect is nothing short of intoxicating-I never would have dreamed such music would have stirred me up, but it does.

At the end of the day the first Antonius Rex document is a good album that is recommended to fans of doom, heavy dark symphonic, and dark themes in general. I see half the album as really great and the other half as only fair, making the rating very difficult. I would place it at about 7/10 but I round up the stars here based on my affinity for the group, and for the fact that along with the two Jacula albums, this early Bartoccetti/Norton trilogy of work is a strong and influential one. There wasn't much like this happening on the Italian scene of the day, and to this day there have been but a few who have captured the dark music realm with such color, imagery, and style. What Comus represents to many prog/acid folk purists, Jacula/Rex represent to dark RPI or proto-goth fanatics.

The 2002 Black Widow reissue offers superb sound quality and booklet with bio and photos. For more information:

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars I believe that to follow their career, it is important to start with their "Jacula" efforts to be able to grab this one. Especially, their debut album released in 1969 which was quite an adventure, really.

What's common to both bands is the scary, dark and heavy moods. Most tracks have Latin titles, but unlike "Heptade" says they are not sung in Latin. Italian is doing the job. The genesis of the band has been brilliantly outlined by "Finnforest", so I won't add anything on the matter.

In terms of music, once the opening number starts, a certain feeling of discomfort prevails. It seems that they are willing to go beyond the fame from "Black Widow" and "Antonius Rex" proposes a quite unhealthy and boring stuff during "Neque Semper Arcum". Giving the circumstances, over eight minutes of such a treatment is quite long. There is virtually nothing interesting in this song and the best option is to press next to reach "Pactus".

I won't tell you that this is a joyful track, but at least it combines very good instrumental parts on the heavy but also jazzy side. Still, these recitations instead of true vocals can be disturbing (they are actually). I think each proghead should quite appreciate the excellent guitar solo and the church organ closing section. The best song from this album.

Since all styles of music have been thrown into the Rock Progressivo Italiano category, one can hardly expect what is delivered here. Heavy to doom rock music, with lots of keyboards (being church organ or more conventional sounds).

It is not easily accessible (especially if you are waiting for some symphonic Italian prog, which it is NOT). The whole sounds quite monotonous to tell the truth. There are even some French recitation during "Devil Letter". But the whole is truly experimental and of little interest to say the least.

This debut album is quite a deception. So far, there was only "Jacula" 's debut which was really worth and you might well stick to this one instead of exploring later albums (at least till this "Neque Semper Arcum Tendit Rex"). Quite indigestible.

Two stars.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The first album of Antonio Bartoccetti and Doris Norton's music to appear under the Antonius Rex name, `Neque Semper Arcum Tendit Rex' is full of the same plodding gothic church organ and downbeat guitar work found on the Jacula albums, however some of the emotional hypnotic and trance like elements present on those albums have been replaced by a wild, unhinged and very deranged doomy sound. After the second piece, most of the tracks flow into each-other, creating one long nightmarish soundtrack. It's an immersive and haunting work, full of passionate playing and wild original experimentation.

As striking as Bartoccetti's guitar playing is on this album, the album truly belongs to Doris Norton's endless variety of darkly classical piano, trippy Moog workouts and spacey synth effects playing all over the top of her dominating organ playing. Special mention must also go to Albert Goodman's baffling drum-work, full of strange busy fills and over-powering random aggressive attacks. The combination of all these players creates a very dizzying, colourful and occasionally messy sound that perfectly fits the music.

Side A's title track has a creeping suspense dominated by Doris Norton's spectral organ and piano that floats amongst howling winds, Latin chanting and long drawn out heavy guitar riffs. It's a slow and unwinding piece that constantly builds in tension and uneasy fear, with a trademark wailing guitar solo from Bartocetti over unrestrained and oppressive organ in the finale. The organ has an occasionally flat and bent sound on `Pactus' that, while starting off as a typical Rex track, suddenly diverts into a lovely jazzy fusion styled 70's Santana-like piece with evocative lead guitar dancing around spacey keyboards and gentle percussion. The track is very tastefully played and surprisingly loose and restrained for this band - even subtle! It's actually one of my favourite overall pieces of music by this artist, even though it sounds very little like anything else they ever performed. Beginning as a creepy haunted house sounding piece, `In Hoc Singo Vinces' has lovely ghostly piano tip-toing around sinister organ, before Bartoccetti launches into some supremely sludgy guitar riffs over some of the dirtiest murmuring bass pushed way to the back trying to break through the mire. Stabbing organ notes and hard drumming smash down on the listener in the wild violent finale.

Dizzying synth solos throughout create a disorientating sense of feeling throughout Side B's `Non Fiat Voluntas Tua' with very addictive descending downbeat guitar riffs and booming percussion. Doris Norton sounds literally possessed on this one, with her endless swirling piano, stalking church organ and psychedelic moog solos. The centerpiece of the album might be the highly disturbing `Devil Letter', an experimental piece that alternates between dark music and evil story- telling. Chasing footsteps, creaking doors, pounding walls, tormented wailing and most frightening of all, a gnashing snarling devilish beast are interspersed with a lovely gothic choir and grand organ themes at the start and end. This exceedingly unpleasant piece is fascinating and quite original, very surreal, and gives this section of the album a breathless and predatory tone. Finale `Aquilla' is merely more of the same Black Sabbath/Iommi riffs with some slightly more dramatic piano and busy drumming before a shredding Bartocetti guitar solo. It does have quite a successful tension, but doesn't really offer much different to earlier parts of the album, and it ends very abruptly.

Fans of the earlier Jacula albums and doomy atmospheric gothic music will be right at home with this one.Others who don't like those albums will know to stay right away. I personally find all the Bartochetti/Norton releases endlessly intoxicating and daring, full of grand musical themes. Each of their albums stand as an original and unique statement, and I'm constantly drawn to the moody soundscapes and gloomy ambience of their work. Even though I don't have as strong an emotional response to this one as I do the first Jacula album, `Neque Semper Arcum Tendit Rex' is still another highly satisfying and moving work all the same.

Four stars.

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