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ANTONIUS REX

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


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Antonius Rex biography
Probably the most charismatic figure of all the italian prog scene, Antonio Bartoccetti (ANTONIUS REX) began his career going to Milan from the Marche, forming JACULA, "Dietro Noi Deserto" (even with a single on Decca in 1971!), and "Invisible Force" (another lonely single in 1971). Not real bands but just a group of musicians working beyond the leading figures of Bartoccetti and Doris Norton (aka FIAMMA DALLO SPIRITO).

Their first album, in 1969, was recorded in London and only released in a strictly limited number of copies (300 + 10 promos) that were only partly distributed by the producer and label owner to sects. An album full of dark atmospheres, mainly based on guitar and church organ and with no drums, it has recently been reissued by Black Widow. In 1971 two singles were released under different names: first as "Invisible Force", with two tracks that later reappeared in "Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus" and "Zora"; the B-side 1999 mundi finis, later re-released as U.F.D.E.M. and "Morte Al Potere" is one of their classics. The second single that year appeared under the name of "Dietro Noi Deserto", this time Bartoccetti was the bass player and composer of both tracks; this seems to be the only proper group which he has played with, and the style is closer to late 60's psychy beat than progressive.

Second album, and usually considered their first proper release, was "Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus", also released in limited number of copies for an unknown label (this seems to be a constant in all the Bartoccetti production) and housed in a cover sporting the same design as the previous one, but coloured instead of the original black and white.

The medium Franz Parthenzy is also listed in the line-up along with the three official members Antonio Bartoccetti, Fiamma Dallo Spirito and Charles Tiring. Long instrumental spectral organ parts are the main ingredient of this album, that has in the suggestive U.F.D.E.M. (also on the "Invisbile Force" single) probably their best track. Dark atmospheres abound and some tracks, like the spoken (in bad english) Long black magic night can be boring for many listeners.

In 1974 a new name change to ANTONIUS REX and an album called "Neque Semper Arcum Tendit Rex". Despite a contact to release it on Vertigo, the label considered it to be too outrageous, with the black and white cover reproducing a 17th century "diabolic" letter and strong lyrics, especially in the Devil letter track. The album wa...
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Switch On DarkSwitch On Dark
Musik Research 2011
Audio CD$15.99
$40.05 (used)
ZoraZora
Import
Black Widow 2010
Audio CD$17.22
$25.02 (used)
Hystero DemonopathyHystero Demonopathy
Import
Black Widow 2013
Audio CD$17.96
$15.99 (used)
Magic RitualMagic Ritual
Musik Research 2011
Audio CD$15.99
PraeternaturalPraeternatural
Import
Black Widow 2005
Audio CD$26.99
$37.47 (used)
RalefunRalefun
Import
Black Widow 2011
Audio CD$21.98
$18.00 (used)
Neque Semper Arcum Tendit RexNeque Semper Arcum Tendit Rex
Import
Black Widow 2013
Audio CD$23.66
$43.30 (used)
2001 Anno Demoni2001 Anno Demoni
Import
Black Widow 2005
Audio CD$17.99
$99.00 (used)
Per ViamPer Viam
Musik Research 2011
Audio CD$14.99
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ANTONIUS REX Anno Demoni vinyl (re)issue with bonus 7" single prog progressive US $95.00 Buy It Now 2 days
Jacula Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus doris norton antonius rex '72 '07 RE LP RARE! US $129.00 Buy It Now 2 days
DORIS NORTON - Parapsycho LP reissue Antonius Rex Italo Disco synth prog Cosmic US $22.98 Buy It Now 3 days
ANTONIUS REX ( jacula ) LP original MONSTER RARE italian prog - psych US $154.90 Buy It Now 3 days
ANTONIUS REX PRAETERNATURAL BLACK WIDOW RE LP MINT PROG US $29.99 Buy It Now 7 days
ANTONIUS REX PER VIAM BLACK WIDOW RE LP SEALED PROG US $29.99 Buy It Now 7 days
ANTONIUS REX RALEFUN BLACK WIDOW RE LP SEALED PROG US $29.99 Buy It Now 7 days
ANTONIUS REX - Ralefun: 32nd Anniversary Edition 1979-2011 - LP US $34.55 Buy It Now 9 days
ANTONIUS REX - ZORA NEW CD US $37.08 Buy It Now 11 days
Zora - Antonius Rex (2010, CD New) US $23.44 Buy It Now 11 days
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DORIS NORTON - Parapsycho LP reissue Antonius Rex Italo Disco synth prog Cosmic US $22.98 Buy It Now 14 days
ANTONIUS REX - Neque Semper Arcum Tendit Rex (Jacula) US $21.99 Buy It Now 14 days
ANTONIUS REX - SWITCH ON DARK - NEW US $29.51 Buy It Now 15 days
ANTONIUS REX - MAGIC RITUAL - NEW US $29.51 Buy It Now 16 days
ANTONIUS REX - PER VIAM - NEW US $29.51 Buy It Now 16 days
ANTONIUS REX - PRAETORNATURAL - NEW US $29.51 Buy It Now 16 days
ANTONIUS REX - Per viam NEW 2009 LP Vinyl US $49.85 Buy It Now 17 days
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ANTONIUS REX - RALEFUN - NEW US $30.99 Buy It Now 19 days
Antonius Rex Zora 1971 Italy Prog LP VINYL Reissue US $89.85 Buy It Now 20 days
ANTONIUS REX Hystero Demonopathy Lp ITA Occult Prog JACULA US $33.54 Buy It Now 21 days
ANTONIUS REX - Praeternatural (Lp) (Jacula, Doris Norton) US $37.99 Buy It Now 21 days
ANTONIUS REX- Ralefun (NEW VINYL) LP (Jacula, Doris Norton) US $37.99 Buy It Now 21 days
ANTONIUS REX Agonia per un amore / witch dance 7' ITA occult prog JACULA Orig US $83.87 Buy It Now 22 days
DORIS NORTON Personal computer ANTONIUS REX ITALY Jacula yellow wax '84 '10 LP!! US $139.00 Buy It Now 25 days
ANTONIUS REX Ralefun CD ITALIAN OCCULT PROG JACULA US $28.52 Buy It Now 26 days
ANTONIUS REX Neque Semper CD ITA Occult Prog 74 vertigo US $25.17 Buy It Now 26 days
ANTONIUS REX Anno Demoni CD ITA Occult Prog Legend US $25.17 Buy It Now 26 days
ANTONIUS REX Per Viam CD ITA Occult Prog Legend JACULA US $28.52 Buy It Now 26 days
ANTONIUS REX Switch on Dark CD ITA Occult Prog JACULA US $28.52 Buy It Now 26 days

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ANTONIUS REX discography


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ANTONIUS REX top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.88 | 17 ratings
Neque Semper Arcum Tendit Rex
1974
2.78 | 22 ratings
Zora
1977
2.17 | 16 ratings
Anno Demoni
1979
3.19 | 19 ratings
Ralefun
1979
3.10 | 12 ratings
Praeternatural
1980
3.21 | 10 ratings
Magic Ritual
2005
3.59 | 18 ratings
Switch On Dark
2006
3.12 | 18 ratings
Per Viam
2009
3.94 | 47 ratings
Hystero Demonopathy
2012

ANTONIUS REX Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ANTONIUS REX Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

2.57 | 4 ratings
Magic Ritual
2004

ANTONIUS REX Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ANTONIUS REX Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

1.00 | 1 ratings
Pig In The Witch
1992

ANTONIUS REX Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Hystero Demonopathy by ANTONIUS REX album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.94 | 47 ratings

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Hystero Demonopathy
Antonius Rex Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

5 stars A triumph of modern dark Italian progressive music, `Hystero Demonopathy' sees the return of the charismatic Antonio Bartoccetti, along with his son Rexanthony, medium Monika Tasnad, and even old Jacula/Rex cohort Doris Norton (credited, although I've yet to figure out what role she played in the creation of this work). Although the previous comeback releases `Switch On Dark' and `Per Viam' were effective albums, they positively sound like a practice run in the lead up to this one. This ambitious concept piece detailing a woman tormented and possessed by demons is simply the most grandly and proudly symphonic, varied, sophisticated musical statement of their modern works, and perhaps one of the defining Bartoccetti works to date.

One thing that stands out immediately is how much Antonio's son Rexanthony has truly stepped up for this release. His keyboards are all over this one, orchestral and epic one second, subtle and restrained the next, constantly bridging the vintage gloom of the 70's releases with modern sensibility and techniques. It's like the father has handed control to the son, trusting his instincts, supporting his decisions and complimenting him when nescessary. I like that - the wicked young apprentice! But Bartoccetti himself is not fading away, in fact he's in peak form, his guitar playing filled with so much renewed and fiery purpose, and he hasn't sounded this good in years.

It's not so much that the album does much drastically different than previous Rex/Jacula albums, it just makes those elements grander, more sweeping and truly cinematic. `Hystero Demonpathy' almost plays out like a horror movie soundtrack, littered with fragments of dialogue and ambient effects. The punchy opening title track is all stomping pomp, full of electronic tension, orchestrated synthesizer majesty and a haunting gothic choir, completely addictive and grabs your attention right from the start. Rexanthony displays great subtlety with the delicate piano and sweeping synth melody of `Suicide Goth', truly heartbreaking and memorable, and one of the most beautiful moments on a Rex album to date. Antonio delivers some appropriately murky bass that slithers around the background here as well. Although starting as a beautiful duet of classical guitar and organ, out of nowhere `Are Mine' blasts the listener with some supremely feral punishing doom- metal noise and some wailing inspired guitar shredding from Bartoccetti.

`Disincantation' is a return to the trademark Bartoccetti recitation, with some lovely orchestral synth and tip-toeing piano that even gently resembles `Initiatio' from the first Jacula album way back in 1969, along with some nimble and stirring acoustic guitar soloing from the Master himself. `Demonic Hysteria' is like a cold, creeping industrial sledgehammer with some dirty electric soloing, wailing vocal desperation, and the battle-cries of a filthy devlish army advancing ever closer. `The Devil's Nightmare' turns to uptempo gothic dance, Rexanthony utlizing his skills from years of performing in the techno genre to good use with pumping beats and dizzying synth soloing.

Pretty sure there's some kind of eerie Mellotron emulation all throughout `Witches', a clever ambient piece that mixes vocal fragments (the memorable `Liars, witches, sodomites and thieves' is used to great effect!), sighing, howling winds and a looping sample of breaking glass into hypnotic percussion patterns. After more raspy narration from Bartoccetti, `The Fatal Letter' spins into a surprising and uplififting remake of Ralefun's `Agonia per un Amore' with soaring synth, pulsing bass and Enigma-like programmed beats.

This is a brief pleasant respite before the absolutely repulsive and foul closer `Possaction', with some seriously unnerving vile torturous female screams, a ranting preacher, chanting mobs and develish monsters over military drumming and imposing church organ. This piece is one of the truly dangerous and deranged pieces ever by the band, full of stark terror and total bleak hopelessness. It takes the album and band to another level altogether, please approach it with severe caution. It will leave you completely altered, and you will never forget it.

With both the vinyl and CD editions adorned in beautiful gothic and esoteric imagery, the Bartoccetti clan should be immensely proud of the grand dark work they've achieved here. It's a superb addition to the Antonius Rex legacy, and another masterwork from the Dark Lord of the Italian progressive genre.

Five stars.

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 Zora by ANTONIUS REX album cover Studio Album, 1977
2.78 | 22 ratings

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Zora
Antonius Rex Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Zahler

3 stars Zora is a flawed, but ultimately fun album by the bizarre Italian outfit Antonius Rex.

Were it not for the incredibly charming opener, The Gnome, I'm not sure that I would have stuck it out, but that tune is like a kiddy version of something Goblin might do (and I adore Goblin), with happy creepy synth melodies woven atop driving rhythms. The band adds some pretty questionable vocals to this piece--timid and off key--but since the cut feels a bit like Halloween for the bambinos, the singing comes off as charming rather than inept. The second tune (Necromancer) is acceptable lounge music, but it is the third cut that will probably eject most listeners. On this cut, Spiritualist Seance, Antonius Rex returns to the Jacula approach (the band that was their first incarnation) and discard that formal entity known as "song" in favor of organ music with sound effects and other adornments. This track is intended to be atmospheric, but it isn't for me, mainly because the organ delivers very little--- there's almost no melody and the lines (often held chords) rarely acknowledge a consistent tempo for the major part of its ten minute duration. It's not quite baseball field organ music, but it is close to that and isn't worthy of the hunk of time it devours, or even half that amount of time. Some latin invocations give it some flavor, and the final two minutes actually grow more interesting with some distant percussion and bass lines and wiry guitar and so it is not devoid of interest in its (long overdue) conclusion.

The following cut, Zora, peddles a riff with some strange tuning before exploring some melodic open sections and some new age music, and the final cut is an equally successful gothic/psychedelic rocker that brings Iron Butterfly to mind.

The very enjoyable bonus track Monastery seems to indicate that the sounds of Goblin, Mike Oldfield and new age music were pursued further by Antonius Rex, and so I intend to check out more of their music. This one is uneven, but more good than otherwise.

A side note/request to Black Widow and other record labels:

Please leave some space between the conclusion of the album proper and any added bonus tracks--- a couple of minutes or at least 60 seconds. Considering that I am in now the dwindling group that never downloads music and only buys hard copies, I don't want to lunge for the CD player, nor tear open my bag to get to my disc player so that the album can end where the artist intended it to end. An album has a stopping point, and it should be respected, even if more material is placed afterwards.

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 Hystero Demonopathy by ANTONIUS REX album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.94 | 47 ratings

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Hystero Demonopathy
Antonius Rex Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars I was playing this album in the car the other day, taking my sixteen year old to school, and as she got out she told me exactly what she thought of the music and ended it with "it sounds as if someone is being killed!". I told her that I agreed with some of what she said, but that this was a 5* album if I had ever heard one. The more I have played this the more I have enjoyed it, and it now makes me wonder what I have been missing out on as this is the first of their albums that I have come across. These guys have been around for a very long time, based around Antonio Bartoccetti (guitars, vocals, bass) and released a number of albums in the 70's before coming back in 2005 and this is their fourth since then. Antonio is joined by Rexanthony (vocals, keyboards, synths, piano, digital drum/ orchestra), and Monika Tasnad (whose contribution is listed as 'medium') plus special guests Florian Gorman (acoustic drums) and singers Laura Haslam, Vladimir Leonard and Svetlana Serduchka.

Just a short listen to some of this album would inform the listener that here we have an Italian prog act that is working in the same area as the mighty Goblin, and that the screams and effects work hand in hand with the music to create a soundscape that is beautiful, horrifying, complex, simple, dark and threatening all at the same time. At times the guitars are really in your face, but at others it is the orchestration. It really is an incredible piece of work that will be unsettling for some, as this is not the sort of prog that you would take home to play for your mum. This is music that is designed to be dark and to provide a very real edge to proceedings. Cinematic and visual, this is a stunning piece of work. www.blackwidow.it

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 Praeternatural  by ANTONIUS REX album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.10 | 12 ratings

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Praeternatural
Antonius Rex Rock Progressivo Italiano

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 works...it 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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 Anno Demoni by ANTONIUS REX album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.17 | 16 ratings

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Anno Demoni
Antonius Rex Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars Although looked down by some Jacula/Antonius Rex followers for being something of a compilation of unreleased pieces, different takes and reinterpretations of earlier works, taken on it's own merits, I think `Anno Demoni' is a perfectly adequate horror soundtrack-styled work, full of convincing dark arrangements and drizzly atmosphere. It was the first Antonio Bartoccetti and Doris Norton album I bought, so I might go a little easier on it than others because I'm somewhat nostalgic about it, for it led me to search out and immerse myself in their other work.

After a brief typical Rex organ introduction, `Gloriae Manus' instantly falls away into a slow distant rumble that borders on dark ambience, before hypnotic piano and that vile hammering drum similar to the first two Jacula albums looms heavy over the listener. Doris Norton then doubles on imposing gothic organ alongside maddening harpsichord that gives it that B-grade schlock horror movie comic book sound.

`Jacula The Witch' is a very moving and sad lullaby with a haunting wordless female vocal along the lines of some of the 70's Goblin albums. Gentle yet ghostly chimes float along in the background before being joined by a very reflective and somber piano melody soft Mellotron wisps. Easily the best piece on the album, and a shame that it's so short.

The 12 minute title track has eerie synths, macabre organ and plodding acoustic guitar playing over Mellotron, electric violin and tribal percussion. The middle section has a very jarring electronic looped pattern with oppressive cold synths that invade the mood - I'm reminded slightly of some of the darker keyboard sections of Pink Floyd's `Animals' album here. The finale diverts into an oddly Tangerine Dream-styled floating electronic piece. Vile taunting voices call from the distance throughout the piece, with a spitting and biting quality that gives them a highly sinister and threatening tone. This slow and gradually unwinding piece compliments the long ambient piece `Enchanted Wood' that concluded the `Ralefun' album.

`Soul Satan's is a slightly rubbish Italian prog/pop song with slight disco beats (which started creeping into Rex albums from 1977's `Zora' onwards) and awful ragged strained male vocals. It's not unusual for Italian prog albums to have boisterous and passionate vocals, but Antonio (if it's him who is singing, because he's the only one credited to vocals on the album) sounds like a drunk pirate on this one! But it's worth hearing for the endless murky soloing dirty bass mixed so loud playing all throughout the song.

`Missanigra' is full of spooky keyboard effects, chanted Latin voices, bat noises and creepy synth patterns but no real melodies to speak off. Just more of the same - somewhat undeveloped and uninspired horror ideas without actually being unlistenable.

The main album concludes with the perfect soundtrack for a haunted house movie, `Ego Sum Qui Sum'. Frightening harsh white-noise electronic orchestration constantly swirls around creeping violin dueling with more of that dirty melodic upfront bass from `Soul Satan' and dancing harpsichord . It's nice to hear the band step away from all the booming organ and find other ways to build their malevolent soundscapes, and it's quite an experimental piece for them.

The wonderful vinyl reissue includes a bonus 7" single with two shorter alternate pieces, `Morti Vindent' and `1999 Mundi Finis' from (I think) the `Zora' album. Probably more interesting to new listeners who haven't heard them on previous albums, although there are slight differences that Rex fans will pick up on.

`Anno Demoni' is only really disappointing from the perspective of comparing it to the other Bartoccetti/Norton albums. On it's own it's a perfectly successful horror themed prog album with decent playing, gloomy atmospheres and haunting dark melodies. Many of the other albums from their vintage period offer a lot more depth and emotion than this one, but it's still works well on a surface level. There is a somewhat nagging feeling of `same old', but even added elements like the violin give it a unique sound in the Rex discography.

Three stars.

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 Pig In The Witch by ANTONIUS REX album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1992
1.00 | 1 ratings

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Pig In The Witch
Antonius Rex Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

— First review of this album —
1 stars Described by Antonio Bartoccetti himself as a "techno experiment", the 1992 release of a short 8 minute 12' single under the Antonius Rex name is a truly baffling and horrible lapse of judgment by the duo of Bartoccetti and Doris Norton, with help from their son Rexanthony. Although the previous album twelve years earlier from 1980 `Praeturnatural' contained slight dancier elements worked into the usual gloomy atmospheres and nightmarish horror soundscapes, `Pig In The Witch' is a repulsive commercial dance/club track with virtually nothing to associate it with any of their other works, not the vintage 70's albums nor the comeback releases much later in 2005. I'm all for an artist trying something different, but to put out a dance track with all the moronic and inane top 40 dance pop stylings and cliches that makes that sort of music such garbage is too much to defend.

Beginning with Bartoccetti's growled call of `Pig in the witch!' (which doesn't even make any sense), pounding commercial dance beats pound the listener over the top of a promising programmed electronic loop of a snorting pig, over and over. This short burst of potential is soon eradicated with a wailing sultry female dance chick urging the "Party people" to "Get this party started" - I KID YOU NOT. We then get a four minute `dance floor anthem' full of pumping techno bass and eventually moronic blasting tedious keyboard melodies, along the lines of the `Mortal Kombat' movie theme tune. There's very brief traces of Doris Norton's piano, but it's so incidental and unimportant that it makes no impression. The second side remix is virtually identical, with less female wailing but still plenty of calls for the "party people". God help us...hmmm, considering it's Rex, maybe not.

If the band had tried for a more industrial hard dance sound, perhaps like the early Nine Inch Nails releases, this would have allowed them to retain their dark horror with a more contemporary and modern sound. At least they would have kept even the barest shred of dignity and credibility.

At least the LP cover is decent - big blood red lettering and a photo/illustration of Bartoccetti in the centre that compliments the rest of their albums perfectly. At least it creates that illusion, until you play the damn record.

I read a comment elsewhere on the 'Net that called this random release `A short joy'. Nothing could be further from the truth, and we should be grateful that the Rex clan never attempted anything like this ever again. The later Rex albums `Switch On Dark' and `Per Viam' saw the band morph into a dark synth-goth group that successfully merged programmed electronic beats with their usual darkly classical moody soundscapes, so perhaps this failed experiment was necessary for Bartoccetti to figure out how to include these elements appropriately in their later comeback work.

The music of Antonius Rex is often meant to be frightening and depressing, but this single travesty completely changes the meaning of those words.

One star.

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 Zora by ANTONIUS REX album cover Studio Album, 1977
2.78 | 22 ratings

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Zora
Antonius Rex Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars Probably one of the more controversial albums in the Antonius Rex catalogue, `Zora' is a messy, incoherent and unfocused album that still manages to provide several exciting pieces of horror tinged music. It's easily the band's most varied and colourful release, jumping back and forth between uneasy comic-book style horror schlock, dark gothic moody passages and more traditional Italian prog. It's got a bad reputation for being a bit of a dud, but I've always found every Antonio Bartoccetti and Doris Norton Jacula/Antonius Rex work stands on it's own unique personality, and this one is no exception.

With it's pounding beat, tinkling hallucinatory piano, eerie synth solos and sound effects, opening track `The Gnome' sounds like almost no other Jacula/Rex piece the band ever worked on. Worryingly the beats are quite disco-oriented! The piece is highly kitsch and has a very B-grade horror/sci-fi sound, probably complimenting the album cover perfectly. Melodic but mumbled male vocals throughout make the track sound like a poorer version of `In Einsteinesse's Memory' from the later album `Ralefun', but that was a lot more pleasant and sophisticated than this one. Lively acoustic guitar and grooving bass amongst howling winds in the middle is the highlight.

While Antonio's typical Jacula/Rex narration and deep chanting opens `Necromancer', it's full of thick spacey synths from Dorin Norton that gives the track a very floating quality. After some passionate Italian sung vocals from Bartoccetti, we're back to more strange disco percussion with some quirky and very insane guitar melodies. The track then diverts into truly bent jazz directions, with some loose and upbeat piano soloing from Norton and both wild ragged electric guitar playing alongside clean crisp melodic runs from Bartoccetti. Like `Pactus' from the previous album, once it gets going it sounds almost nothing like the sort of gloomy music the band are usually associated with.

The beginning of the unnerving `Spiritualist Séance' is similar to the previous album's `Devil Letter' - full of theatrical horror movie sound effects over low-key musical accompaniment. In this case, Norton's lonely and moving church organ, which even has a slight Rick Wright/early 70's Pink Floyd-like quality to it. This track even seems to have a very murky sound quality that gives the piece an even more unpleasant touch. The organ gets more wild, messy and downright violent as the piece progresses. The final few minutes are a vile storm of crashing percussion, glistening psychedelic keyboard effects, echoing flute, dirty wailing electric guitar and tormented possessed female cries before a very abrupt and uninspired fade out. Truly a dark piece that makes you feel like you're losing your mind.

The title track is a surprisingly tasteful, sprightly and almost upbeat Italian poppy prog rocker, with pleasant passionate Italian vocals and warm acoustic guitar more along the lines of P.F.M. The beginning and end sections have repetitive and maddening clean guitar riffs, ghostly washes of stylish synths and frantic piano solos. `Zora' would not have sounded out of place on the wonderful `Ralefun' album, which is the one in the Antonius Rex discography that comes closest to `traditional' 70's Italian prog.

Beginning and ending with a vile scream, `Morte At Potere' is a remake/new interpretation of the track `U.F.D.E.M' from the second Jacula album. This time the piece is more deeply psychedelic, with supremely thick and dirty electric guitar, wilting flute and foul organ, while Doris Norton records another take of her throaty tortured lead vocals from the first version. There's enough differences to make it interesting enough to stand on it's own.

The bonus track `Monastery' that comes with the CD version is a long floating synth/piano piece that almost sounds like electronic music in places. Programmed percussion pumps alongside swampy country acoustic guitar and bluesy electric solos. The beats make it fit with almost dancier synth pieces like `Angels and Demons' on the more recent Rex albums many years later. Although a welcome bonus, I don't think it's fair to consider this part of `Zora', as it not only sounds nothing like the rest of that album, but it clearly comes from a later recording session as well.

Special mention must go the astounding vintage 70's comic book erotic horror album sleeve! Sadly this album is the `black sheep' in my collection, it's the only album from this artist I have on CD, and it's the one I truly would have appreciated on vinyl due to that front cover! Sadly, even the vinyl reissue from a few years ago I stalled on getting is long since sold out and commands a lot of money.

Listeners unfamiliar with Bartoccetti and Norton's work should certainly not start with this album. I think even collectors of this artist should leave this until last - and even then approach with caution! It's an album that's severely underwhelming and confusing on first listen but eventually proves to be a worthy release in it's own right, and even compliments some of the later `Ralefun' album. As I always point out in my reviews, each of the Rex/Jacula releases has it's own identity and sound - `Zora' is psychedelic, colourful and schizophrenic, and a real one-off in their fascinating and worthwhile discography.

Three stars.

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 Neque Semper Arcum Tendit Rex  by ANTONIUS REX album cover Studio Album, 1974
2.88 | 17 ratings

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Neque Semper Arcum Tendit Rex
Antonius Rex Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

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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 Ralefun by ANTONIUS REX album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.19 | 19 ratings

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Ralefun
Antonius Rex Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Having been a big fan of both the Antonius Rex and Jacula projects (the first Jacula album is easily one of my absolute favourites) for many years now, I was very excited to grab the reissue of this album when it released a little while back. I'd only ever read mostly negative reviews about it, but for some reason I was always deeply fascinated to discover it for myself. Up until the re-release, I doubted that I would ever come across the album, due to it being so rare.

To begin with, the album sounds almost nothing like any other Jacula/Rex album before or since, having more in common perhaps with traditional Italian prog albums. It's not quite as heavy and oppressive, and the occult elements are very much toned down to be almost non existent for much of the album. Instead it has beautiful melodic electric guitar solos, spacey keyboards, very pleasant vocals and ferocious flute playing! The album is actually full of an uplifting romanticism, with only occasional dark touches.

The first track `Magic Sadness' reminds me for some reason of the Solaris `Martian Chronicles' album, although that was years later. Wonderful keyboard sections on this track that repeat a few times. Fully instrumental, it's a very striking opening and it grabs your attention straight away. The simple drumming reminds me a lot of Nick Mason, not the only moment on this album that reminds of Pink Floyd.

After a spoken word intro, `Agonia per un Amore' makes me think so much of P.F.M, with very warm vocals and acoustic guitar playing. Doris Norton's sparse piano is very engaging, and the beautiful flute playing are two wonderful highlights on this track. Anyone who likes Italian prog albums would enjoy this simple but effective piece very much.

`Witch Dance' has some guitar riffs that remind a little of Black Sabbath, and it's one of the heavier tracks on the album, which some terrific wailing solos and even more of that busy flute, it really takes off on this one! Despite the title, and Bartoccetti proclaiming `You are my black witch!' many times throughout the track, it's not very dark or sinister at all, actually almost comical, though I doubt that was the desired effect they wanted!

Perhaps my favourite track on the album, `Incubus' has many great simple guitar moments repeated over and over, and some gorgeous piano and organ in the middle from Doris. There also a slightly annoying overuse of a bat sound effect throughout parts of this one, but it helps add to the slight uneasy tension and drama of the track.

`In Einsteinesse's Memory' is a more upbeat track, with an almost dancey/disco beat and endless flute soloing, the electric guitar playing off it a lot of the time. Once again Bartoccetti's simple vocal is very warm and melodic, nice to hear him actually singing like this. Not many other moments like this on their other albums.

The last track ` Enchanted Wood' is the most experimental piece of the album, a 12-minute near ambient piece, filled with both natural, perhaps forest sounds, and also slightly ominous and unsettling unnatural effects, creating a very ghostly and hypnotic atmosphere. Very mysterious and fascinating. Very low-key guitar improvisations and spacey keyboard. All the players get some very subtle and effective moments on this track.

Overall the album is highlighted by the terrific flute and organ/piano playing throughout, and the presence of acoustic guitar on some parts of the album adds a very warm sound to this album, which is unusual in comparison to many other Rex albums. The music is not exactly complicated, but much of it is very melodic and tasteful, making it a good album to having playing in the background, to be able to enjoy on the surface without having to listen intently to complicated arrangements and time-changes.

Highly recommended album, fast becoming a bit of a favourite of mine. Track down the gorgeous Black Widow vinyl reissue like I did!

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 Ralefun by ANTONIUS REX album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.19 | 19 ratings

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Ralefun
Antonius Rex Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Italian outfit ANTONIUS REX, was formed in 1974, following the cancellation of Bartocetti and Norton's previous band Jacula. "Ralefun" from 1979 was their third full album production, and 32 years after it's initial release it is reissued for the second time courtesy of Italian label Black Widow.

The mystical musical journeys of the Italian band Antonius Rex tend to be of a nature that will ever so slightly intimidate on first encounter. "Ralefun" is the sole exception of the creations in their back catalogue, sporting lighter, mystical and even accessible escapades. A relatively gentle introduction to the dark universe explored by Bartoccetti and Norton, and perhaps an ever so slightly surprising experience for those who have discovered this act in the last decade or so and who haven't started to investigate its past.

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Thanks to ProgLucky/Finnforest for the artist addition.

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