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The Rome Pro(g)ject - Of Fate And Glory CD (album) cover


The Rome Pro(g)ject


Symphonic Prog

3.94 | 41 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars After three and a half years the cleverly named ROME PRO(G)JECT are back as a collective offering a sequel to the eponymous release that took conceptual instrumental symphonic prog to new heights. The PRO(G)JECT consists of the three permanent members: founder and keyboard junkie Vicenzo Ricca, bassist extraordinaire Billy Sherwood who simply loves these ongoing PRO(G)JECTS but also contributes percussion and guitar and Genesis guitar god and solo eclectic progger Steve Hackett on guitars. Also on board are David Jackson of Van Der Graaf Generator fame on winds. There are several other musicians on board who contribute more keys, more guitars, more bass and just more! Noticeably absent as i was sitting through this just waiting for some horrible vocalist to mar the beautiful music is the absence of any vocals whatsoever save the introductory narration as the guiding voice by Joanna Lehmann Hackett, poetic author and wife of, yes, Steve Hackett.

Released on April 21st, 2016, which happens to be the 2769th anniversary of Rome's foundation, the subject matter tackles exactly what it proposes. This is indeed a concept album that tells the musical tale about ancient ROME and the story OF FATE AND GLORY. These types of concept albums usually tackle such subjects with vocals and lyrics of some sort, but this one is totally instrumental except for Ms Hackett's short narrative introductions on the very first track. The rest of the album is supposed to be a completely accurate representation of ROME's history throughout the ages in musical form and as the music segues from one passage to another somehow also is supposed to represent the continuing developments of the city that began in 753 BC and took 870 years of conquests to reach its apex in 117 AC before its ultimate decline.

The music is very much like the first edition (only better) and continues the symphonic prog rock style that floats around in a dreamy neo-prog meets the late "Wind Or Wuthering" Genesis style of symphonic prog that floats around, drops a few bombs and marches down into new musical thoroughfares. The focus is primarily on the multi keyboard parts and their melodic meanderings that weave together to deliver an emotional response to what is being sonically depicted. Hackett's guitar contributions are just as strong showing emotional counterpoints to the keyboard runs and thorough well thought out progressive rock workouts. The album has eleven tracks in all and each track tells a particular tale of various stages of ROME's long standing history as one of the world's greatest and most formidable empires. While i personally can't say i understand any these connections between the might and symphonic pomp that the music delivers and which stories it supposedly represents, i am happy to inform you that it doesn't really matter if you connect to this as intended by the artists or not. The music more than stands on its own without any arcane references to antiquity or the trials and tribulations of life in the Mediterranean empire.

THE ROME PRO(G)JECT might sound a little familiar if you are already familiar with the Colossus Project series. It has the same type of symphonic prog rock sound encountered on a majority of those types of releases that are also conceptual in nature. Billy Sherwood has been behind the scenes on many of these and seems indefatigable in this regard. Perhaps my one complaint about this album is that the lack of vocals leaves the listener a little perplexed and lost in the sea of antiquity and implores a more descriptive analysis that can act as training wheels for the uninitiated of the long history that only true historians would completely comprehend. Another slight issue i have is that from what i know of the ROMAN empire through my limited reading of it and the excellent cable TV series ROME is that it was particularly brutal and the mellow and suave music that is exhibited here doesn't necessarily bring conquest and plunder to mind! That said, this is a strong collection of tracks that may not quite warrant its bloated 66 minute and 22 second run but wrests out only the most appropriate emotional responses from the listener throughout a majority of the minutes within it.

One of my favorite tracks, for example, is the sublime "Seven Hills And A River" which at 13:12 never outstays its welcome at all. It begins with a repetitive marching type riff with a sustained key that builds and builds and builds. It continues to slowly blossom into an ever more melodic and complex progressive behemoth that pulls out all the symphonic prog and space rock punches and ekes out all the appurtenant and desired effects. It is punctuated by beautiful classical guitar segments as well as heavy rock approaches and conjures up the journey at hand quite successfully while other tracks may leave the listener a bit perplexed. Overall i wouldn't call this a stunningly successful conceptual masterpiece of any sort however this is a ridiculously pleasant slice of symphonic prog done right with perfect production, meliorable mixing and the majestic melding of seasoned musicians taking turns pouring out their hearts to bring a larger than life experience. Quite recommended and musically more challenging than the first eponymous release.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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