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Akron - Il Tempio di Ferro CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.23 | 9 ratings

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4 stars Superb Italian D&D Doom

One of the branches of the RPI tree would be bands of the Italian "doom" sound, dark prog and variations of dark gothic music. This school, if you like that term, is helped along in Italy by the love and support of Black Widow Records, purveyors of the "dark" music from Genoa. Bands under this moniker would be legends like Jacula, Antonius Rex, along with modern days bands like Areknames. Quite a few other bands have been influenced by and dabbled in dark rock without being fully identified that way. Akron is a project which fully and lovingly embraces the style to great effect and they've delivered a very good 2nd album with "Il Tempio Di Ferro", which thematically deals with the Knights of Templar. Progressor online magazine refers to the band as "Cathedral Symphonic Art-Rock" and does not believe "doom" is a factor here, but to my ears it certainly is. They capture the spirit of Jacula and Antonius Rex without being as dark and disturbing as some people find those groups. They mix elements of these groups with their own accessible and wonderful composition. I was delighted with what I found to be memorable and interesting tracks that stuck with me without having to be overly complex.

The album begins with fantastic church organ in most sinister sounding mode, as if Charles Tiring himself were back from the beyond. Much of it moves at a slow and brooding pace with a deep, ritualistic drumming and heavy bass holding down the low end. There is almost no guitar in the Akron sound palette and it is not missed. I think a big part of what makes this music so unique is the lack of guitars. Modern sounding synths provide a foggy, weighted atmosphere generally described as doomy or a bit spooky. Frankly though I often find some joy and rather uplifting moments coming through even given the overall dark symphonic atmosphere. Vintage organ and piano are used beautifully to give the tracks a somber elegance and somewhat "lost time" feel. The vocals are a combination of male and female teamwork, mostly male, with the female vocals beautifully backing them and providing nice layering. The vocals are very dramatic, perhaps too much so for some, but I don't think so----remember that this music is by its nature bold and dramatic. It is supposed to be larger-than-life storytelling and to some of you this might seem "cheesy." Not to me. The centerpiece track, and perhaps the Akron masterpiece is the amazing "A Gerusalemme." This 10-minute piece features beautiful melodic vocal arrangements and outstanding keyboard parts throughout, then at the end delivers a wonderful solo piano. This album adds more choir vocals and string arrangements to the mix, and in fact improves in sound and production over the debut. Taking another page from the Rex playbook we are even treated to the full sound presentation of a torture session in the castle. In "Le Catene di Chinon" you will listen to the screams of a very unfortunate man as he is presumably being removed from the living world. Last I would say this: if you buy the Akron titles, do give them many plays before making a judgement. Their unusual style and deliberate playing manner do take a little getting used to, but eventually this band gets into your blood.

While the album is a technical improvement over the first, and while the compositions are more ambitious and elegant, for whatever reason I tend to prefer the debut to this one. It's a little rougher around the edges, which I love, but probably most people would say this is the better of the two. Both Akron titles work well as a two part set to give fans of dark symphonic rock one of the finest rides of the 90s/00s. I love them both (caveat, I am an Italian doom fanboy) and recommend them to any Jac/Rex fan. The lyric booklet is quite nice, with pictures of the band members dressed in period chainmail and brandishing their swords. Maybe that's what you could call Akron: Dungeons and Dragons prog. Whatever you want to call this stuff, I like it. I hope the band will reunite one day and give us a third album.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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