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Goblin - Roller CD (album) cover

ROLLER

Goblin

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.03 | 243 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars While GOBLIN has become one of Italy's greatest exports of horror synth prog in the niche of soundtrack music, the band has also released a scant few bona fide progressive rock albums outside the context of Dario Argento's commissioning of products. Following in the vein of the Cherry Five years, GOBLIN took the opportunity to release a non-soundtrack oriented album after the unexpected success of the band's debut "Profondo Rosso" soundtrack. ROLLER took the liberty of dishing out all the prog chops that one would expect from a serious prog band of the 70s but one can't erase what came before completely and the album retains a bit of the creepy blood curdling vibes of the soundtrack that preceded. In many ways ROLLER could be taken as just a mere warm up for the band's phenomenally successful and lauded followup album / soundtrack "Suspira" as it has the seedlings of the haunting vibes to come as well as returning to its Cherry Five roots only blowing them away manyfold.

ROLLER is an interesting mix of what the spectacular 70s prog rock scene had to offer and GOBLIN pulls it off with remarkable grace and technical wizardry. Only consisting of six tracks which includes in the 11-minute-plus spectacular thriller "Goblin," yeah the song which ironically is the same as the band! For the most part ROLLER is a somewhat chilled out album with occasional energetic outbursts. The main melodic drive is generated from the double keyboard sensations generated by Claudio Simonetetti and Maurizio Guarini. Generally speaking one takes on the role of percussive keyboard drive ranging from staccato riffing stabs to beautiful piano rolls while the other generates an intense atmospheric backdrop. The other star of the show is surely bassist Fabio Pignatelli whose rhythmic chops are tantamount to the Italian version of Chris Squire with powerful nosedives up and down the scales but always keeping the backbone of the melodic marches in tact. BTW this is a completely instrumental affair.

The title track initiates the listener into the mid-tempo grooves that are generated throughout ROLLER. Two keyboardists, one bassist and a phenomenal drumming style dished out by Agostino Marnagolo take the scaffolding of the tunes into orbit while Massimo Morante adds subtle textures of guitar sounds to the mix ranging from Steve Hackett styled pastoral prog in the form of acoustic and electric guitars to more skillful soloing out of the Pink Floyd playbook. At key moments he also takes the liberty to unleash some serious guitar wankery that takes the musical prowess far beyond the space rock world into borderline hard rock. "Aquaman" delivers an interesting dripping effect of the keys while nurturing a Floydish style of guitar playing in the context of space rock. "Snip-Snap" jumps ship altogether and takes a cue from the synth funk playbook of Herbie Hancock's "Headhunters" and offers a slice of Brand X styled jazz-fusion.

"Il Risveglio Del Serpente" (The Snake Awakens) provides a gentle piano based respite in between the funkiness of "Snip-Snap" and the monstrous shapeshifting band named track that follows. "Goblin" takes almost a minute to wade through the crackling sounds but then explodes into a series of emotive keyboard runs and power chords guitar style before morphing into what reminds me of Gryphon's style of progressive folk (such as on "Red Queen To Gryphon") complete with an instantly catchy melodic hook and stellar instrumental interplay especially between the keys, bass and drums. Remember that guitars are a tertiary event on this album well at least until Morante erupts into one of the most impressive guitar solos on the entire album which takes on a bluesy heavy rock persona a la Jimmy Page, Johnny Winter and other guitar greats of the era. The track drifts from atmospheric passages and other variations and culminates in a massive drum solo and synth funk-fest complete with African drumming.

The album ends with "Dr. Frankenstein" which slowly and placidly accumulates speed. A droning organ in the background offers a canvas for the guitar, bass and drums to slowly ratchet up the tension. When the bass kicks in, the synth funk groove is established but the counterpoints of the second keys and guitar offer glimpses into the scarier side of GOBLIN's personality that seduce the horrific soundtrack sounds to emerge from their cages. The track is essentially two different ones as about four minutes in morphs into an energetic extravaganza that finds the bass on hyperspeed and the keyboards duking it on on steroids Keith Emerson style. The track offers a profound ending to a nicely laid out album. ROLLER is quite the prog rock sensation and which offers a unique mix of GOBLIN's idiosyncratic goods along with styles from other prog rock bands of the era which offers an outstanding display of pyrotechnics in sonic form that doesn't eschew the art of musical foreplay and then delivering a climactic conclusion. In short, ROLLER displays GOBLIN going for the gusto where they can show off their chops out of the confines of the movie theme limitations and in the process rocked the friggin house.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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