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Spettri - 2973 MMCMLXXIII La Nemica dei Ricordi CD (album) cover

2973 MMCMLXXIII LA NEMICA DEI RICORDI

Spettri

 

Heavy Prog

4.01 | 19 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Spettri 2973 MMCMLXXIII La Nemica dei Ricordi' - Spettri (74/100)

Spettri have one of the most obscure band histories I have ever come across. As a band, they technically formed all the way back in 1964 between brothers Ugo and Raffaele Ponticiello. Jumping on the progressive hard rock bandwagon at the turn of the 70s, they recorded a self-titled debut in 1972. This album, however, never saw a real release until 2011, when Black Widow Records dusted off the cobwebs and finally gave it the release it had lacked for decades. In other words Spettri really are the sort of band we shouldn't have even had a chance to talk about. For the longest time, they were ghosts in the Italian progressive rock scene very few even knew still haunted the 70s.

I actually listened to Spettri's debut when it was finally unveiled in 2011. Though there was definitely some part of me that was hoping for a truly obscure gem to leap out at me, Spettri left no impression on me outside of the fact that it sounded amateurish and only intermittently promising. Considering over 40 years have passed between now and the time that album was recorded, I would have never expected to hear a second album out of Spettri, let alone one that hits as hard as 2973 MMCMLXXIII La Nemica dei Ricordi. Spettri's second album was the follow-up no one was expecting nor truthfully excited about, but it comes with a vengeance I've seldom heard in other heavy prog released this side of the new millennium.

Italy's progressive scene has remained stalwart in large part because they're one of the very few that have widely embraced their own heritage as part of the music. Even beyond the Italian-spoken lyrics with Spettri, there's a rich taste of Italy in their music. The organ-laden heavy rock of bands like Deep Purple or Uriah Heep are a good place to start thinking of Spettri, but that may be best seen as the structural foundation to a sound that above all embraces Italy's own progressive traditions, which for those who have not yet dived into legends like Premiata Forneria Marconi or Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, tends to sound like British symphonic prog forcefed through the overtly theatrical lens of a Fellini film.

To a major extent, Spettri are playing progressive rock that would have befit the 70s; mind you, this is frightfully common amongst artists in a genre that once had right to claim it was pushing boundaries. A truly retro sound doesn't bother me like it used to, especially when it's in capable hands such as this, and I don't think the past few decades of music have crept beyond Spettri's gaze either. The atmosphere throughout the album is rather dark, and they'll occasionally weave riffs into the framework that don't sound a world away from metal. Spettri's composition may impress me more riff-for-riff than in terms of their overall songwriting, but there are plenty of these ideas that stuck with me from the first listen onward. Matteo Biancalani's saxophone leadwork is consistently brilliant in the way it's woven in, at times downright reminding me of Van der Graaf Generator between the jazz interference and foreboding atmosphere.

Spettri enjoys the presence of some other RPI scene stalwarts. Stefano Corsi (of Whisky Trail) administers some Celtic harp here as a refreshing change from their heavy mainstay, and Elisa Montaldo of the ever-brilliant Il Tempio delle Clessidre lends her voice here for a brief but memorable moment. Between these guest spots and the longstanding support with Black Widow Records, it sounds as though Spettri have brought themselves away from the brink of obscurity to take active part in a scene that doesn't get near as much regard today as it deserves. 2973 isn't such a fresh-sounding album stylistically, but it sounds like such a far cry from the primitive dabblings of the archival self-titled that I cannot help but feel surprised and impressed with what they've accomplished here.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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