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Antonius Rex

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Antonius Rex Praeternatural album cover
3.15 | 17 ratings | 3 reviews | 29% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1980

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Halloween (The Land of Magic) (10:08)
2. Falsum e Violencia (2418) (2:07)
3. Praternatural (Downnormalpraeter) (8:48)
4. Montsegur Legend (esoteric trance) (2:18)
5. Capturing Universe (Vlad Tepes Sabbah) (10:47)
6. Invisible Forse (In the Dark - It missa Est) (10:47)

Total time 44:55

Bonus track on 2003 CD release:
7. Vox Populi (Divinitatif Vox) (8:30)

Line-up / Musicians

- Antonio Bartoccetti / electric, acoustic & synth guitars, bass, vocals, producer
- Doris Norton / Wurlitzer, church organ, synths (MiniMoog, ARP Odyssey, Roland 700, Fairlight CMI), drums, mixing

Releases information

Artwork: Travers

LP Musik Research (1980, Italy)
LP Black Widow Records - BWR 074 (2003, Italy)

CD Black Widow Records - BWRCD 074-2 (2003, Italy) Remastered by Doris Norton with a bonus track, previously unreleased

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ANTONIUS REX Praeternatural ratings distribution

(17 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(24%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (18%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ANTONIUS REX Praeternatural reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A beginning and end in one album

Antonius Rex seemed to have two different stylistic and motivational periods to their career. The first period which began upon Jacula's dissolution and went through the Ralefun album, was distinguished by an experimental Jacula-style approach on their first album before heading down a road of less sure-footed compositions and waning personal interest in their "job" as musicians. Their second phase oddly enough began in 1980 with Praeternatural, which ironically was the final album before a self-imposed exile of over two decades between the Rex legend and the principles Antonio Bartoccetti and Doris Norton. It is strange because this album, right on the heels of the messy Ralefun and right before they walked away from the band, is actually the compositional/stylistic foundation of the comeback Rex of 20-plus years later. This album doesn't sound like the '70s Rex at all-it sounds like the Rex of Magic Ritual and Switch on Dark, the Antonius Rex vision of the 21rst century. It is here where they found their true direction of slick, erotic darkness, modern textures, and horror-prog nightmares as opposed to the traditionally symphonic yet experimental proto-goth of Jacula. They would not marry this new sound to the near-perfect conclusion of "Switch on Dark" quite yet but this sound in its infancy is quite exciting in places. For a band too often and incorrectly described as "soundtrack music" this album (along with Magic Ritual) is the one that gets closest to that form. Even while walking away from the band for over 20 years it is here where Rex found the passion again..they sound excited here. The songs pulse with life..yet a cold and slowly waking life..not quite complete but with great splendor. One short blurb used to describe this album on a retail vendor site was actually pretty receptive: "this reminds of a cross between Devil Doll's most subtle moments, the darkest Tangerine Dream stuff and the more musical artists on the Cold Meat Industry label."

Dropping all other contributors the Rex were now down to their two core members Bartoccetti and Norton, and Praeternatural was described as a sort of last gift to their small but dedicated fan base. It features a much more modern sound than their previous work which often relied on the gothic church organ, flute, and what seemed to me a more realistic occult feel (keep in mind though I can't understand Italian.) Praeternatural features Doris in a more updated sound employing the synthesizer and playing drums, while Antonio handles vocals, bass, and all guitars. Most of the album consists of atmospheric keyboard backgrounds with often repetitive rhythms. Doris is not an outstanding drummer by any means but she is competent for the purposed here. Atop these backdrops Doris solos on various keyboards as will Antonio on electric guitar and these periodic solos are really fantastic. Doris' work here is a prelude to her coming career in the 80s as a solo artist and electronics expert (she was sponsored by Apple and IBM in creating experimental electronic music), while Antonio's lead play here is nothing less than stunning-he proves here his playing can drop your jaw. The long tracks allow everything to unfold slowly and while the ambiances are nice. The vocals here are only periodic and mostly spoken or whispered by Bartoccetti in typical sinister fashion. The longer tracks feature chugging metal chord structures that can get repetitive with the tribal drums and droning keys as they provide the backdrop for some wicked instrumental excursions by Antonio and Doris. The title track is pure doomscape alternated with icy techno-metal that climaxes with Doris' fantastic solo where she puts to rest anyone who still longs for Charles Tiring. Her playing is passionate and adventurous. "Capturing Universe" offers some acoustic passages and nice escalating choir voices throughout as the tension builds heavier and heavier. Antonio hits the solo out of the park. The closing track "Invisible Force" is pure drama with sound effects of children's voices and slamming doors to spooky piano. Praeternatural is really a strange animal, unique in their catalog for its bizarre sound, fresh in that it is the first of its style for Rex. And yet the composition is not quite as convincing to me as their comeback material would be. Honestly I actually prefer the previous Ralefun despite its own considerable flaws. Rex's first act was now complete and they were now moving into a long hiatus.

This is not where to start with Antonius Rex (get their debut and Switch first) but if you like Switch on Dark, you'll want to hear this eventually. The booklet features some interesting images but the Bio is a track on the CD in spoken word narration. Black Widow's 2003 reissue is a remastered version and this CD gives you very decent sound quality.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars This band produced some quite dark albums so far. Each of them could hardly be described as a good album and their atmosphere do share a lot with black magic themes, religion and related subjects.

I'm not too much into this to tell the truth. While I could endorse the gimmick about "Black Widow" (who were actually a good heavy prog band with no relation with black magic), I was not really too enthusiast about "Antonius Rex". I quite liked the debut album from "Jacula" because this held quite adventurous music for the era (1969), but their next emulation never could motivated myself on the same level.

The music featured on this work could have been used for a third tier scary movie, but to listen to this album as a pure musical experience is rather difficult and little rewarding IMHHO. If it would have been written in the early seventies, I would have said that it was quite avant-garde but in the early eighties, this was not any longer the case. Just boring, I'm afraid.

Some awful "dance" beats are even to be heard during the title track. Needless to say that the "press next" key is more than encouraged. Gosh! What an awful piece of music. One of the most digestible song (as long as no "vocal" enters the scene) is by far "Capturing Universe". Same mood as usual (mostly), but this time a great guitar solo is shining and upgrades the level of this track. To be honest, even without this good part, this song is above average on this " Praeternatural".

I can't rate this album with more than two stars. It holds too many poor tracks to be considered as a good album. Quite hermetic and weird (as most of their albums actually). One can even get the whole of "Jacula" and "Antonius Rex" biography during the closing "Vox Populi". Some sort of self indulgence I guess.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars "Welcome to our long night..."

What a fascinating work `Praeternatural' is in the discography of the cult that is Antonius Rex. Antonio Bartoccetti and Doris Norton offer an album that takes in all the different sides of the Jacula/Antonius Rex projects, as it moves through the hypnotic, sinister moods of the early days, the experimentation of `Zora', the lush progressive rock/Italian RPI stylings of `Ralefun' and finally heading into the synthesized spooky soundscapes that would soundtrack their modern would just take them about 20 years to get there for that era to be fully realized.

`Praeternatural' essentially makes for a continuous piece of music, like you're moving through a haunted house, each room offering a different kind of psychological, emotional or supernatural assault - take your pick. That mood maintains the whole time, and it provides a darkly ambient soundtrack. This particular album might be a good starting place for newcomers to the band who want to tread carefully. Here the band is more melodic, atmospheric and incorporate a wider range of genres that may make it more accessible and approachable to listeners. It definitely lacks the outright violent and uncomfortable menace of the earlier works, but is never lightweight or totally easy-going.

Howling winds open `Halloween', which instantly tells you what to expect from the album. A dramatic mix of ghostly taunting piano, churning thick orchestral synths and Bartoccetti's macabre guitar riffing. Make sure to listen out for some gloriously murky and slinky bass that murmurs and snakes it's way around the backdrop of the synths and spectral piano about half way through. It's surprising then that, considering the track name of the opening piece, it's the second track `Fatsum et Violentia' instead that more or less rips off the piano melody from the 70's horror movie classic `Halloween'! It's a short brooding interlude with mucky synthesized orchestration and creepy mood effects.

The title track opens with slightly off acoustic guitar over some razor sharp, cutting and disorientating electronic effects and brief repeated narration before immense and booming glorious church organ over a stop-start drum pattern and searing electric guitar soloing from Bartoccetti. But most surprising of all - wait until 6 minutes in, when the drumming suddenly becomes more uptempo, almost dance beats, and Doris Norton doubles on jazzy piano soloing and fiery Mini- Moog noodling that would be more at home on an album from Canterbury Scene legends Caravan or romantic proggers Camel! It sounds like nothing else the band has done before or since, and it's really infectious and quite upbeat. Both Bartoccetti and Norton sound really full of joy and life on this piece! Then Antonio joins in with some driving guitar, before a truly baffling end - the track just stops, no fadeout, no big finale, just grinds to a halt. One minute he's wailing away, and then it's gone. A serious letdown to a very memorable and unique Rex piece.

Side B's `Monsegur Legend' is another shorter interlude/bridging piano/acoustic guitar distraction with unpleasant dark ambient backing. `Capturing Universe' builds a repetitive or trance-like effect around dark and ominous deep groaning male choir vocals looped over and over amongst snarling lead guitar chugging hellfire from Bartoccetti. `Invisible Force' ends our journey with another Rex/Jacula trademark - the stalking and hallucinatory sound collage/experimental piece. This one is full of wicked devilish children's voices, creaking doors, scratching and footsteps interspersed with a maddening tiptoeing piano melody and unnerving groaning synth orchestration. It ends with an oddly triumphant and grand organ finale, which means we've either made it to safety, or perished and crossed over to the other side...

The LP reissue from Black Widow looks stunning, from the horror comic-book styled front cover, to the eerie photos of Antonio Bartoccetti and Doris Norton surprisingly dressed in psychedelic hippie colours on the inner sleeve! Especially intriguing are some additional photos of gothic ornaments and bedchambers.

While it's not a true classic in their catalogue, I do think `Praeternatural' may provide a perfect `sampling' of the many faces of Jacula/Rex for the new fan. They'll get an instant and fascinating overview of the different directions the band experimented with at various points in their career, and they can decide which album they might like to look at next. To my ears, it's also very successful at creating several uneasy and haunting mood pieces, an extended supernatural journey which is exactly what you want in an Antonius Rex album.

Four stars.

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