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BLOCCO MENTALE

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


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Blocco Mentale biography
Blocco Mentale was an Italian prog band from Lazio that was formed in 1972 by Bernardo "Dino" Finocchi (vocals, sax, flute), Aldo Angeletti (vocals, bass), Gigi Bianchi "Roso" (guitar, vocals), Filippo Lazzari (keyboards, vocals, harmonica) and Michele Arena (drums, vocals). In 1973 they released an interesting album called "Πoa" (that in Greek means grass), featuring naives lyrics dealing with ecological subjects, in a style that could remind of bands like Le Orme, New Trolls and PFM. Despite the good quality, the album was not successful at all and, after the release of a last single, Blocco Mentale disbanded. Later they reformed with another name, Limousine, playing in a more commercial and conventional way. Blocco Mentale's debut work is really worth listen to and the band would have deserved definitively more credit. [Andrea Parentin]

Their album is slightly longer than most vintage RPI at 40 minutes and deals with nature and the creeping realization that man was altering the environment in ways that would eventually lead to destruction. The group released another single after this album but then quickly folded which is a real shame. A message from the band in the liner notes states "We'd like to talk about nature. With these few tracks we'd like to remind the little green world that is still around us. Maybe there could be a different world than the one we've created, maybe you could discover too all the values of life that we have been lately disregarding. With love." Eventually the band would reform under another name Limousine and have some modest success with a more commercial sound. That band folded when keyboardist Lazarri, dealing with depression, attempted suicide. He died in 1991 in a car accident while heading to a gig in Rome. Like so many other quality one-shot Italian bands, drummer Michele Arena said the label signed them up upon hearing them play and then never provided any support or promotion once the album was pressed. [Jim Russell]

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3.84 | 73 ratings
Poa
1973

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BLOCCO MENTALE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Poa by BLOCCO MENTALE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.84 | 73 ratings

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Poa
Blocco Mentale Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by coasterzombie

5 stars It may seem controversial to some to rate such an obscure and seemingly pedestrian album 5 stars, but Blocco Mentale's ΠOA has always been one of my favorites and reveals it's true beauty over time. Like its Greek namesake "ΠOA" or "grass," Blocco Mentale plant lush and vibrant musical ground. The environmental/conservation theme may have seemed like hippie fodder at the time, but takes on new relevance now and doesn't feel dated. I would recommend this album to anyone interested in the lighter side of prog - think Delirium but far more interesting and way better.

"Capita" sounds kind of weird at first, you have this angular guitar riff matched with staccato sax stabs and no real sense of melody. But as the song develops, vocals and keyboards are added, bass joins the drums and the sixteenth-note riff is turned on its head and played in a major key. Then as everything coalesces about three minutes in, something very special happens: Acoustic piano and voice establish an uplifting, almost regal chord progression that draws you in and kind of makes you forget the somewhat mediocre start. This sense of joyous melody and strong songwriting will continue throughout, and is really the album's strong point. These guys aren't the greatest musicians or singers in the world, but what they lack in technical skill is made up for tenfold in composition and ensemble performance. Definitely a case of the sum being greater than its parts.

I'm a sucker for Mellotron. ΠOA has a ton of it. "Impressioni" starts with a wash of Mellotron and a very somber flute melody paired with minor-key acoustic guitar. This beautiful song starts off somewhat depressing, but changes to major key half way through like rays of sun peeking through the clouds. "Happy Prog" may seem like an oxymoron, but Blocco Mentale play Happy Prog. "Io e me" is like a campfire singalong with some friends - it just makes you feel good. My favorite feel-good moment is "La Nuova Forza," which sounds like a movie soundtrack to winning the big game or getting the girl or some other big movie moment.

There are three different versions of this album - The Vinyl Magic and Mellow CDs, both released in 1993; and the BTF/VM remaster from 2011. Both original CD issues appear to be direct from vinyl, the Vinyl Magic sounding better between the two. The Mellow features two bonus tracks and reproduces the die-cut cover of the original gatefold sleeve. Buy this album now, and thank me later.

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 Poa by BLOCCO MENTALE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.84 | 73 ratings

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Poa
Blocco Mentale Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by toroddfuglesteg

4 stars Blocco Mentale was another excellent one-album-band from Italy. This album was originally released back in 1973, got no promotion and the band disappeared. I am sure there is one or two ex members sitting somewhere in Italy, sipping wine and have vague memories about their times in the band. I would love to hear their story. Blocco Mentale has certainly got the recognition they deserved more than three decades after they disappeared through the Mellow Records re-release on CD.

Blocco Mentale's brand of Rock Progressivo Italiano is pretty typical for this scene and hence; this album is a very good introduction to this scene for newbies. It most certainly was that for me, but I forgot to review the album back then. Something I am now correcting.

Poa contains forty minutes of lush Rock Progressivo Italiano with a lot of references to both folk music, italian pop, rock and jazz. Obvious references are PFM, Banco and Le Orme. The music is more based on good melodies than heavy rhythms. There are even some ballads here.

The vocals are excellent and so is the use of tangents, bass, drums, harmonica, guitars and some woodwinds. The songs too are great and the forty minutes floats by in the company of these great musicians. This music takes me away to a terrace somewhere in Tuscany where I am sitting under a tree, drinking wine and eating some Italian food. That's how good the sound and mood is on this album. And that is what makes a great Rock Progressivo Italiano album in my view. Hence the four stars.

4 stars

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 Poa by BLOCCO MENTALE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.84 | 73 ratings

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Poa
Blocco Mentale Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Area70

4 stars Not all Italian prog was characterized by highly intricate, symphonic movements and blazing musicianship. Blocco Mentale would be an example towards the opposite end of the Italian scene's spectrum: more emphasis on straight songwriting, vocals are at the forefront and clear pop influences. In addition to the strong vocals, the flute, acoustic guitars and mellotron give the album its characteristic feel.

While no slouches, the instrumentalists are not driven by virtuosity or over-playing, rather the emphasis is on ensemble playing and prominent vocals backed up by excellent backing vocalists (the track "Impressione" is a great example). The tempos are what makes this release most typically "prog" - careening between rumbling and slightly agressive rhythms, then balanced by quite a few quieter, slightly pastoral movements. A very good addition for someone looking for the mellower side of the Italian scene during the 1970s.

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 Poa by BLOCCO MENTALE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.84 | 73 ratings

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Poa
Blocco Mentale Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by 1967/ 1976

4 stars 'Poa' ('grass' in Greek)... The ecological side of RPI!

Also if my previous sentence is a great truth, vice versa is another truth that this band rose by Titania Studios in 1973, recorded a good album (printed in 2000 copies) and, as it came... It was gone.

If this is the story of the band, the story of 'Poa''s music is this: 'Poa' is a good album with Prog songs and POP arrangements, not for this POP. In fact these songs are extreme technical. For me the writing style is too obvious: complicated writing, heavy arrangements, intricate lyrics (entering in the song) and simple production (in the typical Italian style).

For me 'Poa' struggling to take flight (must wait 'La Nuova Forza' [eng: 'The New Power']) but this is not a true problem because in truth also the previous songs are good.

The style is a strange combination of true typical RPI (almost without originality) in the vision of more Heavy RPI bands with POP. This is the winning element, more that the ecological message of lyrics.

But because 'Poa' is a good album? First because 'Poa' is a simple album and second... Well... Secondarily because written and played in a good manner with good songs. For me 'Poa' is not a gem but a honest RPI album.

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 Poa by BLOCCO MENTALE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.84 | 73 ratings

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Poa
Blocco Mentale Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Blocco Mentale was an Italian prog band from Lazio that was formed in 1972 by Bernardo "Dino" Finocchi (vocals, sax, flute), Aldo Angeletti (vocals, bass), Gigi Bianchi "Roso" (guitar, vocals), Filippo Lazzari (keyboards, vocals, harmonica) and Michele Arena (drums, vocals). In 1973 they released an interesting album called "Πoa" (that in Greek means grass), featuring naives lyrics dealing with ecological subjects, in a style that could remind of bands like Le Orme, New Trolls and PFM. Despite the good quality, the album was not successful at all and, after the release of a last single, Blocco Mentale disbanded. Later they reformed with another name, Limousine, playing in a more commercial and conventional way... What a pity! Blocco Mentale's debut work is really worth listen to and the band would have deserved definitively more credit.

The opener "Capita" (It happens) starts with the sax in the forefront counter pointed by the other instruments, then an acoustic guitar comes in melting into the dark... It could happen that the scream of a flower penetrates into your mind and wake up your heart so that you can discover new colours while thousands breaths into the wind carry away your flower and you can feel a new strength and the wish to run without a goal... "Hopes and illusions are lightly floating / Confused into the colour of that wine... You're shaking and to pluck up courage / You give free play to cry / It seems that a voice is talking to you / All you have to do is listen to...".

Next track is "Aria e mele" (Air and Apples) where you can find clear influences of Nice and Gentle Giant and bucolic lyrics... "I've come into a village / I can listen to a choir / That is telling me / This is the most happy world...".

"Impressioni" (Impressions) is a long beautiful acoustic ballad featuring good harmony vocals and a nice melody... "In a while new sensations rise / The whole body shakes / Then I realize that a flower is born... I discovered it into that pool / It was born after a long while / My smiling image that was smiling inside me".

"Io e me" (Me and I) begins in a "bluesy" way, with acoustic guitar and harmonica. The harmony vocals here could remind of New Trolls... "What you can find under the blanket of leaves / That autumn spreads on the worn out paths? / Steps, only steps... My fear of the dark melts back / By now, even if I lose my way into the wood / I'm not alone / If the eyes are friendly fireflies / I can see in the dark...".

On "La nuova forza" (The new strength) the start reminds me of Le Orme, then the rhythm becomes frenzy until acoustic guitar, flute and soaring dreamy vocals come in depicting a frenzy rising morning where an ageless slow and tired wanderer tells stories and gives hope painting fantasies...

"Ritorno" (Return) try to describe in music and words the come back in a foggy city where the only green spot that you can see is the traffic light while on the last track "Verde" (Green) the wish of people longing for "green panoramas" soars light and melodic... "Big city, we'll buy a lawn for you / On your walk sides there will be the most beautiful grass".

On the whole this work is perhaps a little bit "naive" and derivative but it's quite good and it could be an excellent addition for your Italian prog collection.

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 Poa by BLOCCO MENTALE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.84 | 73 ratings

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Poa
Blocco Mentale Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Moderator / Psych Team

4 stars What is this, this strange musicspace...is this Mondo Blocco Mentale...mentally broken world?

Blocco Mentale is, in English, blocked mentality (mental block?). Namely, this word means to be mentally broken out. Although we can't understand Italian and the meaning of this word, we can realize this album work is really mentally broken world with once listening. Here and there violent horn section will come and go hoppin' an jumpin', strict rhythm section will squeeze our neck, and vocal...the most important section I think...plain and passionless but lazy and rough vocal will dirtily step and trample upon our brain. Without the typical Italian progressive rock style, this another wonderland (I wanna name this as Bloccomotive Mentaland :P) should be absolutely Italian spilitual land, of course, not tranquilizer but stimulant. Very interestingly and importantly, I consider the album should construct one era.

Let's break our mentality violently together and say good bye to the present world.

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 Poa by BLOCCO MENTALE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.84 | 73 ratings

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Poa
Blocco Mentale Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars BLOCCO MENTALE released only one album in 1973 before breaking up.The title "Poa" is Greek for grass, no not that kind of grass ! This album is taken up with the subject of the enviroment, hence the title.I can't tell you anything else about the lyrics as they are all in Italian. There are two lead vocalists, although everyone in the band sings. I must admit i'm surprised i'm giving this 4 stars, but it really did grow on me after many listens. Still this is barely 4 stars in my opinion. I'm thankful I have the "Vinyl Magic" release, because as Finnforest points out it has better sound than the "Mellow" issue.

"Capita" has a fun intro with sax and drums that give way to a pastoral soundscape with fragile vocals. Lots of flute by the way with some great keyboard work to follow. Passionate vocals 3 minutes in as this gets quite uplifting. Back to that pastoral setting a minute later. "Aria E Mele" features some beautiful piano melodies. Vocals before 2 minutes and some raw sounding guitar. The dissonant sax after 3 1/2 minutes is a nice touch. Two excellent songs to lead off. "Impressioni" opens with a mellotron storm. Nice. Flute follows as mellotron returns. Piano after 1 1/2 minutes as the sound starts to build. Vocals before 3 minutes as it calms right back down. Strummed acoustic guitar then mellotron 4 minutes in. A full sound returns again. Great section 6 minutes in of guitar, drums and sax. The sax and organ are outstanding 7 1/2 minutes in.

"Io E Me" is interesting to start with as we get percussion, harmonica, tambourine and strummed guitar. Vocals and a calm 1 1/2 minutes in.It gets fuller with mellotron a minute later. The song becomes a catchy, vocal led tune. "La Nuova Forza" is my favourite track. It is bombastic to begin with then the keys take over. An Eastern sounding soundscape before 2 minutes. Vocals follow. This is actually very psychedelic right here. Excellent vocals after 3 minutes. The mellotron 6 minutes in is amazing. Guitar follows. "Ritorno" is very uptempo to open with pulsating synths. Flute joins in. Piano and calm take over quickly. Vocals 2 minutes in. The tempo picks up again 3 1/2 minutes in. Sax late. "Verde" opens with synths, drums and piano. Nice sound. Flute and vocals arrive as it calms down. The vocals become anthem- like with mellotron to follow.

There is a lot here that I like. A very enjoyable listen.

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 Poa by BLOCCO MENTALE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.84 | 73 ratings

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Poa
Blocco Mentale Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

5 stars Amazing Italian band from early-70's,who made just one album before fading in time...though this one was a masterpiece!BLOCCO MENTALE came from near Viterbo and released their debut through Titania Label in 1973.''Poa'' (the right word is actually ''Πόα'') is a the greek work for ''grass'',indicating the ecological approach and philosophy of the band,as the album's lyrics include themes related to nature.

Most obvious influences come from early-KING CRIMSON and PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI,if you add also some superb sax parts.I do not really know where to start from,as this album is one of the most balanced releases in progressive rock ever.The vocal work is handled by most of the band members ans it's absolutely amazing,featuring great multi-vocal harmonies based on expression and emotion than technique.BLOCCO MENTALE use a mass of rock and non-rock instruments in a awesome way,including (except guitars/bass/drums) a variety of keys (mellotron and piano are the most dominant),a heavy amount flutes and saxes and some harmonica also.The emotional vocal arrangements are greatly balanced with numerous interplays between saxes/bass/drums and keyboards/piano/flutes to create imaginative pictures for the listener.The combination of delicacy (smooth flutes parts,acoustic passages,emotional vocal lines) and complexity (interplays,sudden breaks,changing tempos and moods) is absolutely unique and stunning and ''Poa'' is listed this way among my top progressive rock discoveries ever and,maybe,my favorite prog release from 1973!A must have for any serious listener!

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 Poa by BLOCCO MENTALE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.84 | 73 ratings

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Poa
Blocco Mentale Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Pure pleasure, on my list of rare Italian gems

While the accomplished heavy hitters of the Italian scene get most of the buzz, it is the undiscovered artistic gems of the lesser known groups that excite me, as they toiled in obscurity to produce their one-off magnum opus likely realizing they wouldn't get another chance. Blocco Mentale is one of my favorites, blending superb musicianship, great vocals, enthusiastic flurries of ideas, good sound, and thoughtful arrangements. While certainly not hard-edged and harsh like the more daring Italprog groups, Blocco is by no means pop drivel. They instead inhabit a middle ground combining catchy and memorable melodies with playing that is not flashy but is nearly understated perfection. The album glows with a warm organic sound that stimulates emotionally and intellectually on the musical side. Lyrically of course I cannot comment on the quality and I'm happy about that as the vocals are just another color of the sound. POA stands up with my other favorite lesser known gems like Reale Accademia, RRR, and Apoteosi in providing a musical experience that is extremely accessible and yet fulfilling enough for Italian prog fans.

Gnosis2000's Peter Thelen notes "Here's an Italian band from 1973 that, instead of taking their cue from the keyboard driven sound of ELP, have more in common with the sound of Jethro Tull, early PFM, maybe Blodwyn Pig, and perhaps early Yes as well; there are near-schizophrenic outbursts of high speed sax-driven rock going right into the folky flute and guitar textures similar to Per Un Amico era PFM. Of course there are keyboards here, piano, Hammond, mellotron, and more, but it's more an integral part of the music than a dominant force and vehicle for solos. The band has two lead vocalists, Aldo Angeletti who doubles on bass, and Dino Finocchi who also plays sax and flute. One of the two sounds surprisingly similar to the vocalist in Latte E Miele. The band creates a diversity of moods and currents within their music, moving effortlessly between styles, doing fast changes from a simpler accessible folk styling straight into ripping bits of jazz-rock, with intense involvement from all."[Peter Thelen] Dr. Progresso's web review adds "The album opens with angular staccato sax riffs and then slides into a lush melody somewhat reminiscent of PFM in their early (and best) days. There are rich vocal harmonies blended with organ and flute, and once again a Mediterranean sensibility which distinguishes much of the best Italian progressive rock. Swelling Mellotrons blend into vocal harmonies, and give way to a cascading piano line. The music moves around a lot in the course of the album. The fourth track, Io E Me, is an amazing Mediterranean blues, with a wailing harmonica taking the lead. One has the sense that the group was striving to produce a well-rounded album, rather than stamping out each track with the same stylistic cookie cutter. (This was an approach much more common in sixties and early seventies rock than it is today.)" [Dr. Progresso]

Blocco Mentale were a band from Rome who released this one-off in the most orgasmic year of Italian prog, 1973. It is slightly longer than most at 40 minutes and deals with nature and the creeping realization that man was altering the environment in ways that would eventually lead to destruction. The group released another single after this album but then quickly folded which is a real shame. A message from the band in the liner notes states "We'd like to talk about nature. With these few tracks we'd like to remind the little green world that is still around us. Maybe there could be a different world than the one we've created.maybe you could discover too all the values of life that we have been lately disregarding. With love." Nothing dated about the message although the telling of the story lyrically and visually is noted by some as perhaps..well.the main character deals with these issues via conversations with a flower.so yeah. While that aspect may come off as dated or nave set it aside and enjoy the fine music to be had. Eventually the band would reform under another name Limousine and have some modest success with a more commercial sound. That band folded when keyboardist Lazarri, dealing with depression, attempted suicide. He died in 1991 in a car accident while heading to a gig in Rome. Like so many other quality one-shot Italian bands, drummer Michele Arena said the label signed them up upon hearing them play and then never provided any support or promotion once the album was pressed.

"Capita" begins with a guitar/sax tradeoff that instantly reminded me of Gentle Giant but soon becomes typical Italian sounding, with the romantic vocals, warm bass, acoustic, and flutes. Nice keyboard runs and good percussion accenting some choppy sounding guitar, the moods here move back and forth from contemplative to a mid-paced rock. I think it's a very good opener with lots of thoughtful instrumental choices arranged nicely together leaving the listener primed. "Aria e mele" again begins with playful saxophone that leads into a bouncy synth that soon changes to piano and bass. Soon the piano, bass, and flute are caught in a fiery jazzy section with the drummer..breaking down into a heavy harmonized vocal section leading back to a dark Crimson-like riff briefly. Much is happening very fast so it's hard to keep up typing as I listen.usually a great sign that the music is interesting! This song turns into a real maelstrom with everyone joining into this dramatic riff that stops as "Impressioni" is connected via the mellotron. The delicate opening begins with flute over a softly picked acoustic guitar and mellotron, the perfect balance to the stormy previous track. Then in walks a delightful nostalgic piano melody over the flute and tron. Yeah, it's nice. I think even those who don't like Blocco Mentale would have to admit that "Impressioni" is a fair piece of prog. Dramatic drum rolls arise and peak with cymbal crashes as the flute gets more intense. Then it falls back as the soft first vocal verse begins accompanied only by acoustic. There are several vocalists on this album and all are quite good and never annoying, and there is good balance between amount of vocal and instrumental sections. The chorus section is very nice with the mellotron coming back and a nice build-up of bass/drums. Around the 6 minute mark the sax and guitar spar for a bit with the keyboardist and they share some riffs punctuated by starts and stops controlled by the drummer. Then Finocchi lets rip with a nice front end sax solo and the song closes nicely leading into "Io e me."

Many of the tracks simply flow right into the next song giving the album a connected feeling rather than the typical fadeouts. "Io e me" starts with a bluesy harmonica section leading to the vocal and acoustic guitar strumming. Bass and hand drumming accompany the singing and harmonic until the mellotron creeps in briefly. The next section has harmonized vocals and a California sounding hippie vibe like they spent the afternoon jamming with Bobby and Pigpen. Definitely a shift in feel on this track that offers variety but is not up to the material preceding or following it. "La nuova forza" has a heavily pounded piano opening leading into a trippy keyboards sequence spiced with flute and good drumming, then a nicely altered acoustic guitar and flute play a pretty lead in to the vocals. Good sentimental melodies with catchy refrains put this close to proggy pop music but it is so well done it goes down very easily and there is enough care to the instrumental to sell it. Beautiful vocals blend with the warm bass and offer frequent guitar, flute, and piano as counterpoints. "Ritorno" is pure heaven with extended washes of lovely piano playing and amazingly well-crafted band jamming tight and focused-great track. "Verde" features a more sugary sound again over mellotron. The vocals are upbeat harmonies and the structure is standard but the playing expressive. Certainly the least proggy moment on the album but still enjoyable.

There are two CD versions, one on Mellow and one on Vinyl Magic. While the Mellow issue gives you two bonus tracks and better art reproduction, the sound quality is reported to be better on the VM release that I have. I have not heard Mellows, but I can vouch that the sound is good on the VM. Thus you can decide between sound or bonus tracks/artwork, personally I'd take the one that sounds better especially when dealing with the early 70s period.

While POA may never be hailed on the same level as the PFMs and QVLs I must recommend this album to all Italian fans. For those who like to find the gems, this one will deliver quality playing and melodic music to your ears and I think you will like it. It is not a perfect album or masterpiece but it's a damn good one. Not every attempt works and there are other moments that cry out for some special oomph that is missed. But the unabashed enthusiasm is undeniable and the results good enough to recommend to fans outside the Italian fanbase. I'd have to put this on the south side of 4 stars but I have enough affection to round up.

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 Poa by BLOCCO MENTALE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.84 | 73 ratings

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Poa
Blocco Mentale Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Atkingani
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

2 stars Sorry, but I'm not as enthusiastic about this album as I could spot by many other fellow reviewers. I tried hardly but BLOCCO MENTALE's debut and sole album, dubbed as "Poa", did not grow on me. The musical foundations are basically pop, in reality a mixture of soft-rock with ecologic theme dressed with some nice and mellow keyboards sections, weird noisy effects and odd instruments which give the illusion the band is playing prog; vocals help few trying to emulate some fine original Italian folk chants that sound unnatural. Here and there, parts of the tracks are enjoyable and even agreeable but these are only flashy moments, nothing more.

'Capita', the first track, is also the weakest track and frightens the hearer to the extreme; 'Aria e mele' and 'Ritorno' display segments above the average. 'Impressione', the longest track, show the possibilities the band could achieve if they had run strictly in the progressive road. The other tracks, bonus included, are stripped of grace.

An album to be heard at each 6 months, if ever; the mentioned fair moments and the splendid cover artwork rescue "Poa" from the poor classification. To be avoided by ISP beginners and to be considered by collectors and fans only.

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Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Finnforest for the last updates

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