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Imaginaerium - The Rise of Medici CD (album) cover





4.03 | 19 ratings

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Prog Dog
4 stars Imaginaerium's debut opus The Rise of Medici is a modern symphonic prog rock music concept album that performs a service: bringing history into the present- lyrically and even instrumentally, with a complement of renaissance instruments plus occasional ringing church bells and chanting monks.

Italy-born powerhouse singer Laura Piazzai has politely fielded comparisons of Imaginaerium's music to Nightwish, suggesting a much more elegant approach has been taken than straight-up symphonic metal.

For one thing, there are four vocalists assuming specific character-roles, though Laura is the most dominant as Contessina. Clive Nolan, the lyricist, is also known as the longtime keyboardist of Neo-prog group Pendragon. He sings representing Rinaldo degli Albizzi, a longtime enemy of the Medici family. Also, the album is rich with broad approaches in how the songs are presented: utilizing different percussion, harp, choral, mandolin, acoustic guitars, as well as your customary metal guitar crunch, bass and drums- crashing cymbals and all.

If you're at all like I used to be and are turned off by operatic vocals amidst modern rock and metal, be reassured the style of singing on the album is thoroughly contemporary. One of the singers, Elena Vladyuk even has a Kate Bush-like voice, and the male singers sing with great character and spice. Oh, and it's all sung in English.

Sadly Imaginaerium's composer/guitarist Eric Bouillette, also a member of French prog band 9 Skies, passed away in the summer of 2022, causing a setback and blow to this new band. A regrouping took place and they are performing live.

Compositionally the album is rock solid, filled with distinct and strong melodies like Fall from Grace for example, which has all the hallmarks of an instantly classic melody. The calibre of musicianship throughout the album is high among the vocalists and instrumentalists alike.

There's no skimping here: The album is almost an hour, and the bonus CD has what I believe are radically alternate versions worth hearing and diving into, if not just as interesting as the main CD. The songs feature different and beautiful instrumentations and vocal duets, including more prominent use of the harp and other worthy experiments, plus interviews with the 3 core members Clive, Eric and Laura.... That's just speaking of the CDs. The album packaging is truly gorgeous and satisfying, setting a high bar that I wish all album releases could follow. Much thought went into the ear book design. Good thing too, as this is the kind of album that reading the lyrics adds much to the listener's experience. The history of the Medici's is brought to life with a tag-team of passionate singers.

Another bonus for male prog fans: When listening to The Rise of Medici your partner likely won't ask you to turn the volume down.

Prog Dog | 4/5 |


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