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IL BALLO DELLE CASTAGNE

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


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Il Ballo delle Castagne biography
Il Ballo delle Castagne is an Italian band that was formed in 2007 by two musicians coming from different experiences: vocalist and lyricist Vinz, previously brainchild of a "low-fi project" called Calle della Morte and Marco Garegnani, previously with a band called The Green Man, who is the main composer and plays guitars, sitar, keyboards and moog. The line up was completed by Diego Banchero (Malombra, Recondita Stirpe and Egida Aurea) on bass and Jo Jo on drums. The name of the band means "The Chestnuts Ball" and it was inspired by a legend involving the Pope Alexander VI (1431-1503) and his luxurious habits: the "Chestnuts Ball" was a kind of "Satanic Sabbath" where naked women used to dance in the light of candelabrums picking chestnuts from the floor with their mouths. The music of Il Ballo delle Castagne is an interesting blend of hard rock, progressive and new wave. Their sound is gothic and dark and it could remind of bands like Antonius Rex or Il Biglietto per l?Inferno. Their debut eponymous album was released in 2009 by the independent label HauRuck SPQR. -Andrea Parentin

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IL BALLO DELLE CASTAGNE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.95 | 3 ratings
Ballo delle Castagne
2009
3.51 | 12 ratings
Kalachakra
2011
3.49 | 5 ratings
Surpassing All Other Kings
2012

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3.00 | 1 ratings
108
2009

IL BALLO DELLE CASTAGNE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Surpassing All Other Kings by BALLO DELLE CASTAGNE, IL album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.49 | 5 ratings

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Surpassing All Other Kings
Il Ballo delle Castagne Rock Progressivo Italiano

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

4 stars The last forty-plus years have seen a number of evocative and intoxicating dark-themed progressive projects originating from Italy, carving themselves a nice shadowy corner in the R.P.I field. The defining acts from the early days such as the Bartoccetti-led Jacula/Antonius Rex and the horror soundtrack kings Goblin, Abiogenesi and Standarte in the 90's, and the current renaissance with Three Monks, Il Babau & I Maledetti Cretini and others lighting a black candle in the modern era. Il Ballo delle Castagne, a joint project led by Vinz Aquarian (vocals/lyrics/keyboards) and bass player Diego Banchero, main composer in fellow modern dark Italian project Il Segno del Comando, is an addictive mix of gothic, psych, hard rock and even Kraut, filled with typical Italian classical bombast and sophistication wickedly woven into the dark atmospheres.

In much the same way that conducting some extra research or study benefits all the Il Segno del Comando albums, listeners will be rewarded by delving into the background of this work. `Surpassing All Other Kings' is the third act in a trilogy of works based around `The Epic of Gilgamesh', an ancient poem from Mesopotamia that remains one the earliest surviving works of literature. This particular album takes it's translated title from `Shuter eli Sharri', dating from the 18th century BC. On the surface, it tells the tale of gods, goddesses and kings, an oppressed people, and a search for the secret of eternal life. But, like many of the best Italian dark progressive creations, there's this eerie, cryptic tone to the music, and Vinz and Diego incorporate various esoteric reference points and mystical unease to this work. The lyrics often favour surreal imagery over a direct narrative or a straight interpretation of the ancient writings.

The music here often has a brutish, intimidating quality, not surprising considering the source material, and the band attempts to cover a wide range of styles and genres to present the story. The imposing opener `Tema di Gilgamesh' (Gilgamesh Theme) is full of creeping church organ, militaristic drumming, devilish female chants and a croaking, raspy vocal from Vinz himself with very hypnotic spacey finale. A propulsive constant beat surges `Il Risveglio' (The Awakening) constantly onwards, a stalking quality to the grand church organ and moaning voices that perfectly captures the violent imagery of the lyrics. Chanted female vocals and a searing electric guitar solo over echoing whispered recitations in the finale draws directly from dark Italian occult proggers Jacula/Antonius Rex, the suffocating atmosphere threatening to overwhelm the listener.

`Il Viaggio' (The Journey) is just that, a voyage through a variety of sounds - funky wah-wah and bluesy electric guitar soloing, groovy bass strutting, jazzy strolling piano and some seductively dark and purring vocals from Carmen D'Onofrio. The piece is a nice break from all the true gloom of the rest of the disc that recalls not only fellow Italian gloomsters Abiogenesi but mid 70's Pink Floyd as well. The brief interlude `Rorate Coeli' is a cold electronic experiment based around churning repetitive synths. The mix of haunted house tip-toeing piano and eerie electronics that opens `Konighn der Nacht' could be straight of a later 70's Antonius Rex album like `Praeternatural'. The piano quickly grows in desperation, Vinz's mournful yet intimidating crooned vocals take on a wretched faraway quality that sounds like he's falling further and further down a deep well. The pummeling `Il Segreto' (The Secret) is a showcase for Diego's rumbling and fluid bass playing, with some unusually uplifting electric guitar soloing from Roberto Lucanato over a lovely female choral voice in the later half.

`Aquarius Age' is a fascinating instrumental that incorporates Post-rock influences with it's drawn- out ambient guitar flavours, `Fire In The Sky' is a slightly plodding jam that somewhat resembles the early Amon Duul albums with a scuzzy and wasted slurred vocal, as well as the early Abiogenesi albums again. `Eoni' features lovely chiming classic period Genesis-like acoustic guitars and gentle Mellotron, a male choir from the band brings a nice sense of foreboding too. Deranged strings and stabbing orchestral synths offer a climactic fanfare reprise of the opening piece in `Apochriphon of Gilgamesh', but sadly the music is pushed right to the background under a collage of sounds of war, transmission snippets and presidential speeches. Had the piece been purely instrumental, it would have ended the album in a suitably grandious E.L.P-styled manner.

Still, `Surpassing All Other Kings' is a very strong album for lovers of the dark Italian works, and this one might even appeal to newcomers unsure of where to begin exploring these sort of albums. It is never endlessly gloomy, instead balancing easier-going pieces in numerous different styles, so it might serve as a suitable introduction. Vinz, Diego and their musical companions have released a fine dark work here, and hopefully a follow up is in the works for the near future.

Four stars.

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 Surpassing All Other Kings by BALLO DELLE CASTAGNE, IL album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.49 | 5 ratings

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Surpassing All Other Kings
Il Ballo delle Castagne Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Doom laden heavy-psych-goth storytellers

Il Ballo delle Castagne is a Milan based collective led by the duo of vocalist/keyboardist/lyricist Vinz Aquarian and bassist Diego Banchero. They are assisted by musicians from other bands and on this album the supporting players are Carolina Cecchinato, Marina Larcher, Davide Bruzzi, Roberto Lucanato, Fernando Cherchi, and Carmen D'Onofrio. "Surpassing All Other Kings" was released in late 2012 and is the third installment in a trilogy by the group, the subject matter looking at universal mysteries of life and the universe.

"The last chapter of the trilogy is based on the first poem ever written in the whole history of mankind: "Gilgamesh". The legendary king of Uruk and his incredible story was the very first step in this new journey of Ballo delle Castagne. Beside the myth and the most obvious research of eternal life, the figure of Gilgamesh offer the chance to reflect generally on the constant problem of man to look always for an answer for all things in the universe. Indeed, the thousand year sleep of Gilgamesh is now interrupted by the challenge of a new search. The man has lost its meaning, its beliefs. The King rises up from his grave (somewhere in the universe) and starts a journey back to the earth, meeting new and old characters of the ancient saga. The mission is now to reach a new state of consciousness, embracing a new golden age called "Aquarian Age"." -Band album overview

The sound of BdC is right at home within this joint project of Bloodrock Records and Black Widow Records. Their doomy and goth-tinged heavy psych recalls other dark and dramatic artists like Goad and Orne, and to an extent Areknames and Antonius Rex. The tracks feature both male and female vocals in a dramatic style, there is a theatrical flair to the presentation that is very RPI to the core even during the passages in English. (There is a mixture of language). Drumming is also varied rather than purely typical beat-keeping, there are march-like drums and slower, lumbering pacing with that Antonius Rex feel. Organ and keyboards are not overwhelmingly complex but they are filled with spooky moods and choking atmospheres like sooty smoke. I notice a penchant for long repetitive patterns of song structure that often borders on oppressive, challenging the listener a bit, and indeed on their page BdC challenge their listeners to turn this WAY up. Chunky guitar chords and distorted tones contribute to the heaviness and fun. "Il Viaggio" is a cool track typical of the album, with a Doris Norton style vocal over dark, shimmering, hallucinogenic sound that can only be described as unsettling.

The psych/goth-doom sound is changed up on "Rorate Coeli" to express a post-rock sound and this is really refreshing in the throes of such intense material. The change-up continues in "Konigin Der Nacht's" superb and nightmarish recitation over piano and sound effects. Wonderful! "Il Segreto" continues a strong middle section that just cooks with heavy guitar, deep organ tones, and choir vocals to create chilling and heavy, aggressive dark prog. "Eoni" is a huge departure, an acoustic interlude with lofting, lovely synthesizers and male choir vocals--I was wishing this track was longer! A few missteps exist. "Fire in the Sky" is pretty mediocre compared the cool tracks leading up to it, just a very basic, somewhat boring jam that goes on too long. And the closing track is an unfortunate choice. It's the requisite anti-war track with the old "scary music over US presidential speech" thing. It's really old hat in 2012 and it's been done hundreds of times now. While I respect their right to their opinion, my own is that it comes off as a pretty thin way to address such a complex issue, and it ends a great musical ride on a low, awkward note.

Despite my annoyance with that last song, I truly enjoyed "Surpassing All Other Kings" and I like this band. This is an album that will please explorers of the dark, heavy/psych-prog, those fans who love Black Widow and their associated bands. I recommend it to the dark/heavy RPI fans and want to point out that this album is available for a limited time on vinyl! Don't miss it you vinyl hounds! 3 1/2 stars.

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 Kalachakra by BALLO DELLE CASTAGNE, IL album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.51 | 12 ratings

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Kalachakra
Il Ballo delle Castagne Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Italian quartet BALLO DELLE CASTAGNE was formed in early 2008, initially founded by Vinz Aquarian and Marco Garegnani the previous year, but not formally realized until Banchero and Jo Jo joined the ranks. They made their debut with "Ballo delle Castagne" in 2009, and "Kalachakra" from 2011 is their second full-length production.

Ballo Delle Castagne has created a strong album with a distinct and almost idiosyncratic sound with "Kalachakra". A strong feeling of unity of mood and atmosphere is probably the main reason for an album slightly sprawling in style appearing to be a concise and unified creation. Fans of psychedelic art rock should take note of this one, in particular if they enjoy vintage-oriented material covering a broad musical canvas.

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 Kalachakra by BALLO DELLE CASTAGNE, IL album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.51 | 12 ratings

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Kalachakra
Il Ballo delle Castagne Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars A band I knew nothing of before receiving this album, I gradually became entranced by their psychedelic music. Il Ballo delle Castagne are an Italian band, now consisting of four members, but started out in 2007 with two of them: Vinz (vocals) and Marco Garegnani (keyboards, guitars, sitar, samples). The other two musicians are Diego Banchero (bass) and Jo Jo (drums). Vinz is also in Calle Della Morte. Marco is in The Green Man. Diego is in Ediga Aurea, Recondita Stirpe, Malombra and Segno Del Comando. This album, Kalachakra, is inspired by the documentary "Kalachakra: The Wheel Of Time", by Werner Herzog about the ritual of the same name in which Tibetan Buddhist monks become ordained.

The album's songs offer a wide range of styles and moods and as such display little coherent sound by the band. The opening song for instance, Passioni Daiboliche, is a rich and heavy rock piece with prominent keyboards and supporting guitar work, male and female vocals and a beautiful musical peak at the end with piercing keyboards-produced string sounds.

But this song is typical of only half of the album. This release presents to facets of the band: a slow and eerie psychedelic and experimental side, and a more melodic, high-energy heavy psychedelic rock face of the band. The songs, accordingly, seem to come from either of these two factions, which actually reside very well together and have strong links.

Already on the second piece, Tutte Le Anime Saranno Pesate, one can hear their psychedelic tendencies. An efficient and eerie bass line provides tension as the synths provide the main theme, accompanying the male vocals, while later on tribal percussion and a sharp guitar noodling solo continue this otherworldly vibe. All of these elements create a somewhat creepy and weird atmosphere, that is quite characteristic of this type of songs on the album.

I Giorni Della Memoria Terrena follows in the footsteps of the preceding song, albeit in a less spooky fashion and with haunting male vocals, initially accompanied by drumming and then gradually joined by guitar and keyboards. There is a sense of a ritual being prepared, an arrival being anticipated, an escalation of emotions about to happen, in expectation of an event to happen. But this event does not occur in this song, as this monotone piece keeps on going until its end.

The title piece, Kalachakra, counteracts the somewhat somber mood created by the two previous tunes, with a return in its opening part, to the heavy psychedelic rock of the first piece. Although here it's not as prominent (and not throughout the song) and moreover, includes a sitar, thus enhancing a mystic feeling that permeates from the entire album. The ending of this track is quite gorgeous and climatic with the increase of pace and use of synth-string.

La Terra Trema is in the same camp as Kalachakra in style of song, and the climatic ending. These two songs in particular remind me of the Chilean band Angulart and their album, Donde Renacen Las Horas. The atmosphere is similar, as is the vocal style and the guitar tones. It is an odd and special sound that I find quite ear grabbing. The sixth track, La Foresta Dei Suicidi, is as somber as its name suggests. It is percussion- less, abstract in places, peculiar and gloomy. While calm in a sense, it is filled with lots of restrained emotions and controlled rage.

Omega, the 7th piece, starts out in the same otherworldly fashion as the previous track, though less grave d with percussion but midway through it joins the ranks of the other type of songs on here and delivers an Electric Orange-like psychedeic freak-out epic ending.

The closing piece, Ballo delle Castagne, reminds me as well of the psychedelic rock of Electric Orange, sounding at first as if coming from a distant foreign place, changing midway to a jam-session-like psychedelic rock tune (with spoken words on German, enhancing furthermore the Electric Orange comparison).

Il Ballo delle Castagne presents here an album with two main ingredients; one heavy psychedelic rock, and the other a psychedelic abstract and eerie exploration. This has grown on me gradually with each listen and only with concentrated and repeated listening, did this album reveal to me its beauty and nuances (or rather I exposed my mind to it). A worthwhile listen (3.5 stars for those who care about such things)

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 Kalachakra by BALLO DELLE CASTAGNE, IL album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.51 | 12 ratings

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Kalachakra
Il Ballo delle Castagne Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars Hmmmmmm........

I once liked a band called Type O Negative. A band which really redefined dark rock. Italy has always had a great love for dark rock. That explains New Order and Van Der Graaf Generator's popularity there. Black Widow Records has released dark rock for ages. And yes, that's where you find this band and this album too. Black Widow Records has blackened the soundwaves again with this album.

Others than me has explained the Ballo Delle Castagne's background so I will not go there. I will though review the music. Music which is most definate dark rock. Dark rock with roots in the depressive rock scene (and that's the name of this scene) in England back in the 1980s, VDGG, space rock bands like Hawkwind, some blues and the Italian dark rock scene. Well, I am sure the band will deny those influences in the interview with them, but that is what I get out of their sound. Those are my references. So dark rock it is.

The quality is good throughout. The opening track Passioni Diaboliche is the best track of the album with it's Type O Negative and VDGG associations. I do feel the album is loosing it's way towards the end though. The two final tracks Omega and Ballo delle Castagne does not do it for me with their blues connotations.

I am not denying that this album is a fascinating journey though, and this has been a long journey in my case. But in my books; this is not a fully great album. But check it out and make up your own mind.

3.5 stars

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 Kalachakra by BALLO DELLE CASTAGNE, IL album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.51 | 12 ratings

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Kalachakra
Il Ballo delle Castagne Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Il Ballo delle Castagne were formed in 2007 by four musicians coming from different experiences. The name of the band means 'The Chestnuts Ball' and it was inspired by a legend involving the Pope Alexander VI (1431-1503) and his luxurious habits: the 'Chestnuts Ball' was a kind of 'Satanic Sabbath' where naked women used to dance in the light of candelabrums picking chestnuts from the floor with their mouths. The music of this band is an interesting blend of psychedelia, hard rock, progressive and new wave. Their eponymous debut album was released in 2009 and in the same year they released a 10' vinyl single featuring two covers, Biglietto per l'Inferno's Ansia/Confessione and Franco Battiato's Paranoia. Their sophomore album was released in 2011 on the independent label Hau Ruck S.P.Q.R. and distributed by Black Widow Records. It's a concept album inspired by Wheel of Time, a documentary film about Tibet by Werner Herzog: Kalachakra. The album is dedicated to the Dalai Lama and to the struggles for the liberation of Tibet.

The opener 'Passioni diaboliche' (Diabolical passions) is a beautiful track full of a dark energy and enriched by the female vocals provided by the guest Carolina Cecchinato (singer of a folk prog band called Egida Aurea). Lyrics are about the need to get free from the diabolical passions and the ancient obsessions which dance inside us. We set off on a spiritual journey leading to purification... 'Following the immense trail of the blind souls / I'm among those who seek the path to the source from which the water flows...'.

'Tutte le anime saranno pesate' (All souls will be weighed) is unquiet and features a mystical atmosphere... 'You'll pay for every sin / In the temple of eternity you will be judged / And for every tear, for every sin a stone will fall from the sky...'. Lyrics were inspired by the 'Bardo Thodol', a funerary text which is often referred to in the West as the 'Tibetan Book of the Dead': It describes the experiences that the consciousness has after death, during the interval between death and the next rebirth. A black stone will be hung on the neck of the evil people while a white stone will be hung on the neck of the good ones...

'I giorni della memoria terrena' (The days of the earthly memory) features church like choirs and a martial marching beat. The music, credited to Eloy, leads you throughout the shadows of Death, as through the fog between earth and sky...

The evocative title track features a strong psychedelic and Oriental flavour... 'They bring an ancient wisdom / They sing old legends / The air smells of spices and incense / Lotus flowers accompany our steps / Here everything is quiet / From here you can reach the eternal... Pilgrims and travellers recite mantras waiting for a new awakening... Listen to the wheel of time...'.

'La terra trema' (The Earth trembles) is more rock oriented and features electric guitar and organ in the forefront Lyrics were inspired by a famous film directed in 1972 by Werner Herzog and starring Klaus Kinski, 'Aguirre, The Wrath Of God'... 'The sky gets dark when I look at it / The Earth trembles under my steps / Aguirre is my name / I bring civilization / The cross and the sword...'. Excellent the instrumental coda featuring a fiery violin solo.

'La foresta dei suicidi' (The forest of suicides) is a suggestive instrumental track featuring nocturnal piano passages and restless wordless vocals. The mood is definitively dark and it could be the perfect soundtrack to visit the forest of Aokigahara, near Mount Fuji in Japan...

'Omega' is mysterious and spacey. Lyrics are about the last voyage towards the great return, the rebirth after a long and uncertain wandering into the void... 'Inside of me lives the whole universe...'.

The last track 'Ballo delle Castagne' starts with hypnotic percussion and recitative vocals in German. Words have been taken from 'Jesus Christus Erl'ser' (Jesus Christ saviour) a controversial work for theatre by Klaus Kinski... A powerful psychedelic finale concludes the album.

Well, on the whole I think this is an excellent work, challenging and never boring, featuring many literary quotes and musical ideas that are definitively worth to check out...

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 108 by BALLO DELLE CASTAGNE, IL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2009
3.00 | 1 ratings

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108
Il Ballo delle Castagne Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars Il Ballo delle Castagne are an Italian prog band based in Milan that was formed in 2007 on the initiative of two musicians coming from different experiences: Vinz (vocals) and Marco Garegnani (guitars, sitar, keyboards and moog). The line up features also Diego Banchero on bass and Jo Jo on drums. After an eponymous debut album featuring an interesting mix of hard rock, progressive and new wave they're working on a new album, more focused on the roots of Italian prog.

According to the band, "108" is a sacred number in many Eastern cultures and that's why they chose it as title for this 10' vinyl single from the upcoming album "Kalachakra", influenced by the charm of Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. It features just two covers of the early seventies: Biglietto per l'Inferno's "Ansia / Confessione" and Franco Battiato's "Paranoia". The band did not try to imitate the original versions but managed to reinterpret them in a quite interesting way, with a sharper and darker sound. The result is quite good. Of course, just two covers and ten minutes of music are not enough to judge the band, but this is an excellent appetizer and I'm looking forward to the new album with the original stuff. Anyway, I think that this single should be of interest for vinyl prog collectors...

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 Ballo delle Castagne by BALLO DELLE CASTAGNE, IL album cover Studio Album, 2009
2.95 | 3 ratings

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Ballo delle Castagne
Il Ballo delle Castagne Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Il Ballo delle Castagne is an Italian band that was formed in 2007 by two musicians coming from different experiences: vocalist and lyricist Vinz, previously brainchild of a "low-fi project" called Calle della Morte and Marco Garegnani, previously with a band called The Green Man, who is the main composer of the band and plays guitars, sitar, keyboards and moog. The line up was completed by Diego Banchero (Malombra, Recondita Stirpe and Egida Aurea) on bass and Jo Jo on drums. The name of the band means "The Chestnuts Ball" and it was inspired by a legend involving the Pope Alexander VI (1431-1503) and his luxurious habits: the "Chestnuts Ball" was a kind of "Satanic Sabbath" where naked women used to dance in the light of candelabrums picking chestnuts from the floor with their mouths. The music of Il Ballo delle Castagne is an interesting blend of hard rock, progressive and new wave...

Il Ballo delle Castagne debut eponymous album was released in 2009 by the independent label HauRuck SPQR. The sound is gothic and dark with many psychedelic passages...

The opener "Anthem no. 1" is an hypnotic instrumental that leads to the church-like organ notes of the gloomy "Il tormento di Demetra" (The agony of Demeter), freely inspired by the Homeric hymn to Demeter and depicting in words and music a journey through the storm, straight in the vortex of the pain...

Next comes "Specchi e perline colorate" (Mirrors and coloured beads), in my opinion the weakest track on this work. It starts as a silly new wave piece but after three minutes it develops in a psychedelic dream with a good guitar solo...

"Sole e acciaio" (Sun and steel) was inspired by a book by Yukio Mishima and deals with ritual suicide... "Overturn the silence of the death with the eloquence of the steel that is inside me / My soul rises, my body is expanding without end... ". The music here is mystic and powerful in the meantime alternating raw guitar riffs, ecstatic sitar passages and organ rides...

The last track "Il pianto di Cristo su Gerusalemme" (The cry of Christ upon Jerusalem) is a kind of long exotic raga with an oriental flavour. A voice from the East and a voice from the West, a voice from the four winds and a voice "against Jerusalem and its temple"...

On the whole this is an interesting album but not an essential one. This band has a good potential and I think that they could express it better in the future. If you like bands like Antonius Rex give them a chance and have a listen to their music on their website...

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Thanks to finnforest for the artist addition.

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