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Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy

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Assenzio biography
Assenzio is an Italian prog band from Bari that was formed in 2004 by five skilled musicians: Gigi Lorusso (guitar), Emanuele Manzo (bass), Lino Paglionico (vocals and flute), Fabio Prota (keyboards) and Cristiano Valente (drums). They try to blend the influences of classic progressive rock bands like PFM, BMS and Area with more recent sounds and the result is excellent... Their debut album, the self-produced "'Avon" (2005), is an interesting concept about the seven capital sins and, although it was completely recorded and mixed in the band's home studio, the sound quality is very good.

The musicians are also involved in side project like U'Papun (Lorusso and Valente), Suoni Modł (Lorusso and Manzo) and Mister Wilson (Prota). Gigi Lorusso is a teacher of sound recording techniques as well...

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3.73 | 13 ratings

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 'Avon by ASSENZIO album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.73 | 13 ratings

Assenzio Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by colorofmoney91
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I've created a social schema or stereotype in my head that all Italians are generally pretty darn good at this "music" thing. I believe it, and I'm sure others do as well. I'm not an RPI connoisseur, but I know that I do like RPI a whole lot and this album is no exception.

I recently started doing a get-a-bunch-of-free-music run over the internet, and this is one of the best items to come from my voyage through the web. This free album includes some of the finest and most beautiful prog I've heard in a while; such great melodies, such infectious hooks, and such passionate vocals. "Antitesi" starts the album off with some beautiful flute and to me it sounds like a very Italian intro to something, kind of like if Jethro Tull were Italians. It's beautiful, but the following two songs are probably my favorites.

"Primo Cherubino" is awesome. It's starts out playful, but gets more serious and beautiful about a third into the song, and only a few seconds later we are presented with the "chorus" and its beautiful vocal hook. I can sing along to this, even though I don't know Italian. I suffice with the Korean language. The keys also play a big part in this tune, and they are beautiful and strong throughout. The song leads out in the same playful manner it started with.

"Beni Shahih" is also awesome, but I feel that some people might find it strange. It's a very strong song, but the melodies are sort of odd. This song is very jazzy and a little RIO, in my opinion. I'm not really sure how to explain it. There are interesting keyboard and guitar solos near the end that matches the weirdness of the rest of the song, and they are great. And there are some strangely alien sounding vocals screaming at the end of the song, which kind of reminds me of Solaris' "Martian Chronicles" album's intro. It was after hearing this song that I decided that this album was definitely not going to slack on the progressiveness.

"Passione e Vizio" is passionate, like the name suggests. Very beautiful yet still very "rock". There is a beautiful Mediterranean guitar break near the middle section that sets the mood for the second half of the song. The sound of the bass really sticks out on this song, sounding like some Mediterranean funk. Anyone who's read my other reviews should know that I'm a big softy for funky bass, so this song reinforced my love for this album even more. The solos in the track are fiery and fun, and should be found enjoyable by anyone who plays an instrument.

"Tempesta" starts with some heavy rock bass, bu very neo-prog sounding keyboards come in. I don't know the prog-keyboard terminology (hammond, rhodes, etc.) so 'keyboard' will have to suffice. This track is more straight-forward rock than the others, but there is still great bass playing and some brief progressive ideas throughout the song, most notably the bass and guitar instrumental break about half-way through and the creepy-circus sounding keyboard solo that really sticks out near the end. Strong vocals throughout, as before.

"Avida Anima" is very funk-blues-rock, and sounds very '70s to me (but what do I know? I'm only 20). Actually, this sounds like some of the more relaxed funk-based song on the Mars Volta's "Bedlam in Goliath" album but with more controlled vocals. The whole song including the bass lines stink with funk, so I love. The softer psych-blues solo near the end of the song is very beautiful, as are the vocals that follow.

The last two tracks are the longest, running at 8 minutes and 8 minutes 40 seconds. "Parassita" starts off sounding very dark, but quickly breaks off into a swingin' bass line accompanied by subdued vocals, followed by a rockin' chorus. Jazzy guitar playing throughout, stark string arrangements in the background, powerful vocal hook in the chorus, then comes a beautiful piano break accompanied by some thumping bass and crunchy guitar. There is also a neo-classical type guitar solo, which is kind of fun. This track managed to sound very dark the whole way through, and it's very nice sounding.

"L'oppio degli Ignavi" starts off with some classical sounding piano, and then the rest of the instruments follow in a darkly, beautiful, and sentimental fashion. This is what RPI usually sounds like. This song actually gets fairly metal sounding about a fourth into it. The beautiful and heavy moments alternate all through the song, giving it a progressive sound. There is a great guitar solo midway through the track, followed by another interesting keyboard solo. I usually don't enjoy keyboard solos, but this band makes them sound more fun and interesting than usual. My favorite part of this track is the dancelike string arrangement starting about 6 minutes in.

I found this album to be very unpredictable, which is fantastic. I didn't think much of it upon first listen, but I was soon completely taken by it. I hope for much more great music from this young band, and it would be a shame if they were to quit before making more of this music. I would suggest this to anyone who loves good progressive rock and doesn't mind vocals in Italian. Among the free albums I've downloaded, this has top rank.

 'Avon by ASSENZIO album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.73 | 13 ratings

Assenzio Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Assenzio come from Bari and began life in 2004. The line up features Gigi Lorusso (guitar), Emanuele Manzo (bass), Lino Paglionico (vocals and flute), Fabio Prota (keyboards) and Cristiano Valente (drums). Their influences range from classic Italian progressive rock bands like PFM, BMS and Area to newer and heavier acts. Assenzio's debut album, the self- produced "'Avon", was released in 2005 and is an interesting conceptual work inspired by the Seven Deadly Sins. Although it was completely recorded and mixed in the band's home studio, the sound quality is very good and it's really worth listening to...

The opener "Antitesi" (Antithesis) begins softly and introduces the "concept". Acoustic guitar and flute set a dreamy atmosphere where in a distorted reality vices and virtues are fighting against each other... "I dare fancying inside of me a world full of innocent perversities / I build with my mind an ageless place... An unfair and charming antithesis of opposite egos is attracting me...".

"Primo cherubino" (First Cherub), deals with pride. It starts with a percussive and dark beating, then the electric guitar starts pulsing too... Music flows with many changes of rhythm while vocals draw the image of a vain king, a king of the night who comes to life at dusk like a vampire with the look of Tony Manero / John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever... "I live in the space of one night / I die and arise only for those who look no one but me / My light shines high and irradiates my majesty like a lighthouse... You despise my vanity, subdued by your lack of qualities... My hegemony is absolute, it has no limits / I'm your king!".

Next comes "Beni Shahih", a track about greed. The incipit is powerful and full of energy, then rhythm begins to swing while vocals interpret a strange character who cuddles his little shining and clinking creatures... Try to think to Scrooge McDuck swimming across his money or to Gollum dancing madly on the edge of the abyss holding "His Precious" ring... "I want everything for me / I do not have anyone anymore / I hold tight my treasure to my chest / It's like a soft pillow for me / It's only mine and I want more...". The greedy character hates other people, they are like threatening dark enemies who judge his words and his actions, he feels their inquisitive eyes upon him... "Eyes that look at me / Eyes that stare at me / Eyes that judge me / Eyes that hate me... Leave me alone!". Well, a great theatrical interpretation!

"Passione e vizio" (Passion and vice) is about lust. A piano solo sets the atmosphere... Imagine a man lying in an opulent ocean of shining gold, surrounded by wonderful women, indifferent to what happens outside his "shell"... "Passion and vice rule with overwhelming force the senses never saturated with lust / You are surrounded by the most charming creatures on Earth who delight your senses / You have fun without worrying about the storm...". The music is complex and features every now and again spicy Oriental atmospheres and a peculiar guitar Latin sound ą la Santana...

"Tempesta" (Storm) is about wrath. It starts with aggressive electric guitar riffs and pulsing bass lines... "A red sky is burning tormented by rage / Threatening blows the wind of resentment / The clouds on the horizon relish the duel... The roar of the storm spreads / The thunder and lightning rape the sky... And anger can rule without mercy...". Music and words depict wrath in a very colourful and effective way... "My eyes reflect the clouds / They are red like the sky that shouts blood... My scream explodes, it needs to resound... I seek relief in broken glasses...". Well, an epic rage for an ordinary story of hooliganism!

"Avida anima" (Greedy soul) is about gluttony. Here the over-indulgence and over consumption of food, drink and other intoxicants is a way to fill the infinite emptiness of a weak soul, a way to compensate the lack of values that could make a man fragile and mean. On a funky rhythm vocals interpret the languid madness of a man who changes his dreams into desires and the desires into greediness... "In every whim there's happiness... My corrupted belly has made my world... I cured the melancholy with the pleasure of the palate / And face to face with the mirror of my identity / I fill the void of my greedy soul with the frenzy of possession, with gluttony...".

"Parassita" (Parasite) is about envy. Music goes through many changes of mood and rhythm while lyrics compare envy to a parasite that can hide under your skin and can conceal its looks behind a black veil... "The hypocritical parasite smiles / Meanwhile it injects its poison / It grows slowly, hidden...". You can't see it, you can't see the pain of the envious people in the background who would like take your place in limelight... "How can't you see my pain? / Maybe am I invisible to your eyes? / You're always there in the front, unattainable / I want to be you!".

Last track "L'oppio degli ignavi" (The opium of the sloth) is about sloth. It begins softly, just a piano introduction then vocals soar slowly... "Leaden desert, wrap me in an embrace of dynamic inertia / Nothingness is my friend, I let me live by...". Music flows like the current of a raging river and leads you toward a fall. Poverty and want are lurking in the mud like a robber or an armed man while drugs addiction and escape from responsibilities drive you in the eddies of the Styx. Eventually you find yourself prisoner of your restless ego, floating aimlessly toward the vortex of oblivion... A great track and a perfect conclusion for a very good album!

By the way, Assenzio's members are also involved in some side projects like La Variante Chevac (Paglionico), U'Papun (Lorusso and Valente), Suoni Mudł (Lorusso and Manzo) and Mister Wilson (Prota). Gigi Lorusso is a teacher of sound recording techniques as well...

 'Avon by ASSENZIO album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.73 | 13 ratings

Assenzio Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by seventhsojourn
Special Collaborator RPI

3 stars Here's something of an obscurity that comes highly recommended by the guys that are in the know about this type of stuff. Released in 2005, it's a concept album that uses the seven deadly sins as its source of inspiration. I can't comment on the Italian language lyrics but the musical interpretation certainly seems a fair match for the dark passions and grandiosity of the concept.

It's epic and pompous in just about the right degree, and blends elements of blues, funk and a little medieval music with classic RPI. The eight songs are packed fair and square with all the necessary ingredients such as hard-edged aggressive guitar and dark keyboards, impassioned vocals and a modicum of flute. Fans are guaranteed the best of both worlds with the album's mix of vintage RPI sensibilities and post-1989 nu-metal riffs and power chords.

There's no excuse for RPI fans not to listen to this album as it's available as a free download, so check-out the Italian appreciation den in the forum for details on how to download and share your thoughts in a review. For me this is more of a strong 3-star album, rather than a weak 4-star. I like a lot of what Assenzio do here, but it'll take something really special to permanently oust the Amanita album from my CD player.

 'Avon by ASSENZIO album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.73 | 13 ratings

Assenzio Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by toroddfuglesteg

4 stars Why is this album a hidden gem and not an album spoken about with reverence among the many Rock Progressivo Italiano (RPI) fans here ?

This Italian band knows how to play on the RPI's fans heart strings, that's for sure. The album was recorded only some years ago, but it feels like it was recorded back in the 1970s. Was it recorded back in the 1970s ? It certainly have both the sound and the naive approach to music you can find on many of the great RPI albums from that era.

The vocals feels raw and untrained. The Hammond organs is playful. The same goes for the rest of the sound. The songs are both naive and great. Some pieces of music here is excellent. This is even a concept album too with a lot of biblical references. That too sounds like the 1970s Rock Progressivo Italiano scene.

The music is a mix of poetic and more pastorial melody lines, some Italian pop rock and some hard rocking melody lines with plenty of Hammond organs and electric guitars. Biglietto Per Inferno and Le Orme is two good references. This in addition to King Crimson, Genesis and VDGG. Add some fusion too into the mix and you get this album.

The melodies are all great. My only gripe is the lack of a truly great song here which would set this album apart from the rest of the Rock Progressivo Italiano albums and give it an own identity. And yes, Assanzio's music is neither original or trailblazing. But this free download album is still a superb free Christmas present (and thank you to Andrea and Finnforest for giving me the download link) to every Rock Progressivo Italiano fans out there. Spread the word & enjoy.

4 stars

 'Avon by ASSENZIO album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.73 | 13 ratings

Assenzio Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Fantastic (and free!) RPI, don't miss it.

How has this not been reviewed yet by our RPI staff? I please guilty to missing the boat here. "Avon" is a fresh and eclectic RPI project of the Bari based group Assenzio, released in 2005 by the band. Bari must be a modern day hotbed as I've sound some great groups under the radar from there and nearby, such as Architrave Independente and Il Babau & i maledetti cretini. The best news is that the band's debut is offered for free download from their web page linked on their artist page here (though currently this link is down, so read below on how to hear it). I invite fans of modern RPI to check this out and honor the band with your thoughts.

"Avon" is a concept album about the seven deadly sins. Assenzio is a talented group whose influences include Area, Crimson, Genesis, and PFM. They remind me of lots of classic Italian bands in certain areas, but their eclectic mix of current styles brings to mind fabulous newer bands like Akt and Braindead. These guys have the chops to come at your with high powered fusion flavored riffs or the delicate touch to recall Orme. The introduction is one of the most beautiful pieces of music you'll hear, with serene and lovely flute over classical guitar with a medieval flavor. But they are not a primarily mellow experience, these guys rock hard although they never go into prog-metal. Hard rock, some crossover, occasional fusion, there is something for everyone. Lino Paglionico's vocals are all Italian and of a high register, energetic and with good control. The guitarists are impressive and the album is full of melodic lead work. The rhythm section keeps things interesting throughout with tight and jamming backup. Keyboards are often just fantastic, interesting jazzy sections alternate with symphonic ones, the piano parts being my favorite. There is a cool flute and guitar double that runs through Passione with jamming bass backing. The closer L'Oppio is a thrilling rocker with strong melodic leads that will please all rock fans. An exhilarating pace throughout by a clearly inspired band.

An absolute treat this work is. The downside of the self-produced work are the occasional production issues, but for the most part the sound is of a high quality. I cannot believe it took me this long to find Assenzio. Their free downloads are currently off-line and the band has not been around their myspace page for some time. For now you can listen to the entire album streaming from their myspace widget-pod if you scroll down their page-just click the link off their artist page. I plan on contacting some of the reissue labels about getting a proper CD put out for "Avon." I think it deserves a release. 3 ½ stars.

Thanks to micky for the artist addition.

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