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ZIO biography
A UK-oriented project ZIO were born as a brainchild of Jimmy PALLAGROSI (drums, percussion, ex-Karnataka) for incarnating his love of video games or sci-fi as a concept album with massive inspiration of progressive rock. He's invited four energetic musicians - the creative genius of the project Olivier CASTEN (keyboards), the Rock to the band Lzi HAYES (bass), and the Quiet Guitar Hero Marc FASCIA aaka Daddy Marc (guitars) - and the quartet ZIO have created and released their debut album "Flower Torania" in collaboration with Hayley GRIFFITHS (voices), Joe PAYNE (voices), Franck CARDUCCI (voices), Heather FINDLAY (voices), Cagri TOZLUOGLU (keyboards), Alfonso ALFANO (accordion), Alex LOFOCO (bass), and Richard HENSHALL (guitars).

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3.92 | 48 ratings
Flower Torania
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ZIO Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Flower Torania by ZIO album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.92 | 48 ratings

Flower Torania
ZIO Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars A rock opera! From members of Karnataka, Frank Carducci, plus guest performances from Heather Findlay, That Joe Payne, and Haken's Richard Henshall.

1. "Ride Along" (2:19) (4.25/5) 2. "X-Ray" (6:23) That Joe Payne delivers. (8.5/10) 3. "Wings Inside" (3:23) Hayley Griffiths delivers. (8.75/10) 4. "Gold And Power" (2:35) (4/5) 5. "Straight Up From Underneath" (7:04) (13/15) 6. "Jupiter" (7:04) a top three song for me. (13.25/15) 7. "Erwin's Opera" (6:49) a masterpiece--vocally and compositionally. Great lead guitar work from Haken's Richard Henshall. Best song on the album. (14.5/15) 8. "Inner City Shorroma (7:51) my other top three song. (13.5/15) 9. "Ma Petite Histoire" (1:29) Heather Findlay still has it! (4.25/5) 10. "Interstellar List" (5:52) 80s hair band power prog. (8.25/10) 11. "Flower Torania" (2:06) accordion and piano with Hayley and Heather. (4.5/5)

Total Time 52:55

This Neo Heavy Prog is a little too campy and/or predictable or even stale for my tastes: The vocal performances are filled with personality--but more like the kind of pomp deserving of a theater stage, while the instrumental musicians are proficient but exhibit nothing exceptional or truly memorable (except for the guests).

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of theatric prog and a very solid contribution to the Prog World lexicon.

 Flower Torania by ZIO album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.92 | 48 ratings

Flower Torania
ZIO Neo-Prog

Review by nick_h_nz
Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars [Originally published at The Progressive Aspect]

As the founder, Zio is the project of Karnataka drummer Jimmy Pallagrossi, and I have to admit this made me wary. Karnataka, along with other similar bands playing a mellow prog tinged with Celtic folk, plodded along for years at a steady pace ? releasing pleasant album after pleasant album. And for me, I guess that was the sticking point. They were just too? pleasant. The one Karnataka album that resonated with me was their final one, Secrets of Angels from 2015. This album still had the trademark Karnataka sounds, but along with the atmosphere there was energy. Real energy. The music was more colourful, more vibrant and vivid, than any other Karnataka album for me, holding my interest throughout the album in a way Karnataka never had before. Now, knowing the story behind Zio, I figured that Flower Toriana ought to have the same sort of energy, colour and vibrancy ? but in the back of my mind, I worried that I may find this album less than impressive.

I really shouldn't have worried! Even the relatively brief introductory track, Ride Along, is full of life. Although it starts in a relatively calm fashion, it builds nicely, coalescing into a lovely concoction of glitchy electronic noises that definitely bring to mind the appropriate video game imagery for the album's concept. Jimmy wrote this album, inspired by his love of video games and sci-fi, and this comes through time after time, sometimes more overtly than others. Ride Along leads straight into X Ray, which leaves the listener in no doubt that this album has energy with its powerful and aggressive opening passage. It also provides a great example of one of the strengths of this album: the superb harmonies of the vocalists, their lines intertwining and wrapping around each other. About halfway through, the music changes almost completely, and it's pure prog metal. And wow, it's good. Hayley Griffiths sounds stronger than I can ever remember, with perhaps my favourite vocal moments from her on the album. Joe Payne sounds good, too, but his time to really shine is yet to come.

The abrupt ending of X Ray, and the way it changed mid-song, meant I didn't initially realise that Wings Inside was a new song. It's not until about 40 seconds in that it sounds sufficiently different that I checked what I was listening to. And while that might sound like a negative, it really is not. The album flows incredibly well, and the way one track segues into the next only helps to maintain the story and illusion that the protagonist is racing against time to get through the different worlds of a video game.

Although the pace is far less intense in Gold and Power, this is one of my favourite tracks. There is still an insistent beat, and an overall sound which is far more electronic, and almost darkwave. This is a shorter track, and before you know it, Straight Up From Underneath has begun. This starts with a full-on melodic prog opening which is a little too cheesy for me (sorry!), before being stripped back to a much more attractive proposition. Indeed, this is the first of many changes of mood and tempo throughout the song. And it has my favourite vocal performance of Joe Payne within it, too. And there's an insanely cool guitar solo towards the end. From a beginning that could almost have had me hitting the skip button, this is actually one of the most impressive and diverse tracks on the album.

Jupiter is back to the prog metal sound, but a lot darker sounding than in X Ray. Like that track, the rhythm section provides a massive sound, even in the quieter and calmer moments. And like that track, the coming together of male and female vocals provides a quite glorious sound. It's not one of my favourite songs, but it is one where I find the chorus melody provides quite the earworm, coming back to mind hours or days after I've last heard it.

Erwin's Opera is a song of two halves, the first being the most song-like on the album, before changing to a more instrumentally focused piece that zigzags between the metal and darkwave synth sounds of previous tracks, building to a climax that explodes, leaving a short, quiet coda. It's an alright song, but I far prefer the following Inner City: Sharroma which harks back to the electronic and darkwave sounds of Gold and Power. While the vocals are strong and positive sounding, the music behind sounds menacing and threatening. There's loads of atmosphere in this song, and I love the subtle keyboard flourishes, which have an almost avant feel, akin to Mike Garson's work with David Bowie or Nine Inch Nails. There's also some massive keyboard work on this track which is anything but subtle, and that's just as enjoyable! Olivier Castan, on keys, is also one of the co-writers, and I believe also designed the artwork. His keyboard playing paints just as expressive a picture!

Ma Petite Histoire is the shortest track on the album, but it's the perfect length for what it is. It's very pretty, but knows not to outstay its welcome. Insterstellar List is effectively the final song, in the same way X Ray was effectively the first, as the title track works as an outro in the same way Ride Along introduced the album. For me, it's similar to Straight Up From Underneath in having parts which are not entirely to my taste, but saved by the many changes within the song, and the stronger passages being so enjoyable and engaging, that those which I don't like so much are readily forgotten. This has to be the most upbeat song here, and it's a triumphant end to a very original album. Ok, it's not the end. As stated, the title track ends the album, and actually I don't mean to dismiss it, because I really like it ? but it really is just a blissful comedown after the fireworks of Interstellar List.

As an album, Flower Toriana is incredibly original, mixing different styles with ease and panache. Since I've started writing reviews for [The Progressive Aspect] they have been overwhelmingly positive. It has been suggested more than once that I should try reviewing something outside my comfort zone. Flower Toriana was that album. It is an album I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it all. It is definitely not one I expected to enjoy this much. I will offer only one caveat. The Astonishing is my favourite Dream Theater album?

 Flower Torania by ZIO album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.92 | 48 ratings

Flower Torania
ZIO Neo-Prog

Review by alainPP

5 stars ZIO is the group created by Jimmy PALLAGROSI on February 13, 2019 on the ashes of the KARNATAKA group. More or less ousted, he had the good idea to take the leaping Hayley with him and ask former THE ENID singer Joe Payne to come and lend a hand. He composed, let's say it immediately, a beautiful modern prog opera metal piece, surrounded by great names like Olivier CASTAN who also plays on the FRANCK CARDUCCI BAND, said front-man of the aforementioned group, Heather FINDLAY the 1st voice of MOSTLY AUTUMN and HAKEN guitarist on a track. The sound developed is very innovative, as on what AYREON has been able to develop in an extraordinary way with its concept albums: muffled interludes, others energetic, others frenzied with the tangled voices of the different singers, telling the eccentric story of Alan, the hero of the story to make Belbi smile again, who in theory can no longer smile; hard task, which I am working on. Finally, I will quote "Last Action Hero" for the idea of ​​the hero drawn into an abracadabrantesque endless story and especially the world of video games with brawls against a background of music of course. The orientation is therefore anchored in a prog-pop-metal-rock melting pot that is a bit crazy with traces of baroque and opera. And I take on this new label.

"Ride Along" comes with an ideal piano intro, you know the pink wooden piano that we had for his 4 years, the magical voice of Hayley, an air of fair, sound effects Ó la AYREON a little robotic for a perfect introduction, a latent stage intro. "X-Ray" follows with a strong energetic track which sets the mood on a frantic rhythm accompanied by the suave voice of Joe, in short an apparently singular osmosis with the old and young of KARNATAKA for a sidereal flight in two stages, one soft, catchy, the other angelic, a perfect fresh mix where the drums do not hesitate to take off even more; the synth is also in place to keep this modern rhythm going; the violent riff on the aerial synth reminds me of the attack of the birdmen on "FLASH", music composed by QUEEN of course. "Wings Inside" follows on the same rhythm with a nod to an English ballad, to an orchestration worthy of ARAGON and its "Mouse". "Gold And Power" follows as an interlude with airy pads, symphonic noises, almost infra-bass tone, I find there a little of the universe of LUCASSEN, a lot of video game atmospheres especially those of arcade, a lot of gaiety in fact . "Straight Up From Underneath" arrives as a logic with the first of the four long tracks of the album, it's dancing, it's new wave, it's full of backing vocals, full of new atmosphere, it's fresh with the piano dripping like a waterfall then suddenly we enter the world of jazzy cabaret where a certain Freddie liked to graze there; the drums are beating their notes, the tune sounds "very British", you could almost see the bunny with his Charisma hat if you close your eyes! It looks like a prog comedy at times and then it picks up on the original rhythm with a playful solo that is also very airy, in short, nothing but fun; the dreamlike finale plunges us even more into this PINK FLOYD symbiosis coming out of an arcade game. And Olivier who whispers to us "what a thief this Marc", a moment of bliss. "Jupiter" with his phone extends us into it until the explosion, heavy riff, highlighted drums and ensuring the rhythm, here it's nervous despite the hypnotic, long and bewitching choirs, perhaps the title of the album which corresponds the most to the soul, to the spirit of the group, by far a little jumbled, closely a well orchestrated composition; a dithyrambic track with a real osmosis of the voices of Hayley and Joe in particular. "Erwin's Opera" literally contrasts with the previous titles, the reason for my second chapter here; a plaintive guitar intro, a calm voice, plus a ballad and a sound that highlights this carnal voice of Hayley, a frenzied mid- term break (choose your arcade game !!) with a heavy male voice which disturbs a few moments until the jazzy space then Zappa´en, the guitar solo is here divine; the final cover is done quite naturally with still the basic piano to accompany the voice, the opera is not far but the festive opera. "Inner City Shorroma" closes this quartet of long titles with "my second best" because of the Arabist and bewitching atmosphere given to the title; It's bombastic, there is a bit of the sound of Dolores of the CRANBERRIES here, it goes more on a long endless crescendo, it's beautiful, it's funny to find such a level. I also tell myself that it is not for nothing that we nickname Jimmy the crazy drummer in homage to Animal for the energy lavished on each title. "My Little Story" also arrives there as an interlude, a nursery rhyme sung in French with a baby's voice but what a baby, a sweetness that calms the frantic spirit a little, a title that I dream of seeing in public, it doesn't matter. hasn't happened for a long time, am I still neutral, objective or spellbound? "Interstellar List" rolls in afterwards just to regain possession of a dancing, rhythmic, almost disco track that doesn't work anymore !! Phew, the tight riff goes back to a fusion because I can hear a funk disco heart now like on "Disco Queen" by PAIN OF SALVATION; the clap-clap that I hated in my tender years goes easily here, well there are plenty of other sounds that reassure me all the same, the synth arcade solos and the nervous guitar must have something to do with it. "Flower Torania" and its return to the original synth, an air of a funfair, the voice of angelic women half sung, half whispered as on the first track, the accordion, everything to bring you back here below in the current world ? 'The stars are leaving my mind' and bring me back a little sad on earth, well that does not matter I will tell you about my trip.

ZIO had a major blow at the start of the year; he composed and brought together usually divergent, if not opposed, arias in a revealing, innovative and almost perfect melting pot album, at the crossroads of an AYREON, an ARAGON, a fusion record; extraordinary both for vocals and for musical editing; notes, sounds that seem to come out normally and easily mix somewhat disparate genres; prog magic, ZIO magic. Just one thing, jump on it.

Thanks to dAmOxT7942 for the artist addition.

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