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Faveravola - Contea Dei Cento Castagni CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.83 | 52 ratings

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5 stars It took 30+ years for Italian progressive rock to produce the mellow yet potent masterpiece that is Faveravola's debut. The band's members are mostly veterans of the scene who have seen it all - the symphonic sweeps of Celeste, the bombastness of Le Orme, the devilish organs of Metamorfosi and New Trolls, the Hammond-nostalgia of Men of Lake and plenty of Anglo influences like Procol Harum and the Moody Blues. But what Italian prog so often failed to do was pay homage to the folk idiom, which is where Faveravola has earned its place, influenced by countless artists unknown to this writer, but also reminiscent of Horslips and Tri Yann, to name an Irish and Breton giant among others. In addition, while the aforementioned all know something of romance, and romantic fantasy in the broad sense, Faveravola revels in it in a way reminiscent of Eris Pluvia and Hostsonaten, but magnified n-fold and conveyed in Italian.

It is rare that any album contains so many gorgeous and timeless melodies that many listens will be required to absorb its full breadth. Luckily this is not a chore but a blessing. The rich production and the delicate fullness are a reward each time. The vocals are mixed just right. The organs are splendorous and often dominant. Several of the longer pieces show considerable development and tend to rock out a bit more, in particular "La Foresta Degli elfi alati", which is where echoes of the great Irish masters Horslips can be discerned. It is also one of the tracks where the flutes are on display, necessarily evoking Jethro Tull. "Lo Specchio" is one of the showcases for Consuelo Marco's fragile violin not to mention a slightly martial percussive quality, but it also includes some of the album's more expressive lead guitar licks by Gianluca Tassi. The outro is thankfully laid back and unwilling to be rushed. The fiddle and the narrative aspects of this release remind me of the excellent "Inner Dragon" by the current French group Silver Lining, but this one is more consistent and benefits from the use of the native tongue. The title cut is also a dripping gem, while "L'incontro" benefits from the insertion of female vocals for variety in timbre if not style.

"Il Sogno" is like "A Whiter Shade of Pale", or Procol's "Homburg" gone Mediterranean and even more textured than the originals. The main melody on organ may not be the album's best, but it might be the hardest to get out of your head afterwards. The only song where an understanding of Italian would have helped me is "La Piana dei Temoli del Livenza". Even narration from Aldo Tagiliapietra of Le Orme cannot keep me from becoming restless over the course of 9 minutes. But "La Scontro" is a real rocker that provides the necessary pickup. Again featuring a bombastic and insistent organ riff and superb vocal contributions from Franco Violo, it recalls the masters of the 70s while proudly proclaiming itself, much in the manner of Men of Lake a decade or so ago. The lead guitars shine again as well. In its 7 and a half minutes it transitions through a variety of moods, including a romantic violin led segment to return to the original statement skillfully.

The most medieval sounding tune is "Danza di Messer Reale e Madonna Fantasia" which is led by luscious harpsichord, and reminds me so much of Tri Yann, the great Breton folk rock group, that I simply have to mention it. I dare say even non folk fans could be moved by the progressive production and layering on this lovely piece. "Leggenda della Foglia, della Vita e del Vento" is another majestic song with plenty of grandiose vocals, flutes and keys, while "Neorinascimento" starts off like another ballad before moving several notches up tempo, and reminds me of the wonderful one off by "Foglie di Vetro" from the early 1990s. The rhythm guitars provide a welcome muscularity while remaining in a polite exchange with the gentler parts. The album closes with the mostly reflective and all emotional "La Strada ai Confini di...", whose three dots hopefully signify the end to this installment only. The middle part is absolutely cracking, where Violo really cuts loose.

Certainly the album of 2008 for me, Faveravola's debut will be hard to beat. If you love the ancient, the old and the new blended together and can handle mellow folk oriented symphonic prog with mere shards of heaviness, it could become a favorite for you too.

kenethlevine | 5/5 |


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