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VIII Strada - La Leggenda Della Grande Porta CD (album) cover


VIII Strada


Progressive Metal

3.68 | 26 ratings

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4 stars Powerful prog-rock that will please the masses

VIII Strada is a band from Milan that could be described as somewhere between prog-metal and power-symphonic. Along with other contemporary Italian bands like Pandora, Coral Caves, and Senza Nome, Strada produces grand lengthy, epic feeling compositions full of raucous energy one moment and gentle piano melody the next. Comparing such groups, the difference is that those three bands seem to touch on the uniquely RPI elements more often than Strada. Strada has these RPI elements as well but in the percentage of the mix seem to put the less native symphonic-metal influences first and the influence of their musical forbears second. You feel the presence of the Dream Theater spirit here more than any Banco vibe. That is not to minimize the impact of this fine recording in any way, just trying to explain the subtle difference I note. The playing and feeling of "La Leggenda" actually reminds me very much of another band I recently reviewed called Minstrel who delivered an epic rock opera called "Faust" although Minstrel are more operatic. If you love this band you'll need to dig back and find that album. I also believe fans of Nemo and Riverside should check out VIII Strada for equally engaging sound.

Strada has been around since the late 90s and consists of two original members and three recent ones, which no doubt helps to contribute to Strada's seeming musical maturity being so well balanced with the crushing, youthful vigor they can unleash at any moment. It makes for thrilling listening. Seven tracks ranging mostly from 6-12 minutes in length provide instances of delicate beauty, melodic acoustic guitars and gentle piano passages winding like a river to the falls--at which time the band just launches. Huge chords and soaring guitar leads, metallic chugs and borderline nuclear drumming set the feel of metal well within range, putting them not so far from Pain of Salvation in places. Next to the complete musical competence of each player you have powerful and passionate vocals, with wonderful Italian language (thankfully they resisted using English.) There is no growling here, only quality singing and harmonies. When the band does turn on the guitar shred the results seem very well integrated to the composition rather than feeling obligatory. My only complaint is the personal one I have with so many modern releases. The professionalism and quality is there in droves but lacking are the weird surprises of the 70s albums, the shots of avant-garde so often thrown into '70s RPI albums (or any genre albums.) Bands like Strada (and Pandora) could use some of that which is taking nothing away from what they do so well. While this is not the kind of music I typically go nuts for, I really have to acknowledge it's a fine album deserving of 4 stars.

Sadly, I note on the bands Myspace that they are taking applications for a new keyboardist. Since original keyboardist Silvano Negrinelli composed all of the words and music on this album, it sounds as if VIII Strada's state of affairs may be in serious jeopardy. Don't let that stop you from sampling a band that shows Italy's accessible prog-rock bands are as pleasing and dynamic as those from anywhere else.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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