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Psycho Praxis - Echoes From The Deep CD (album) cover


Psycho Praxis


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.76 | 24 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars The ferocious energy and surging power on display throughout this debut album by new Italian band Psycho Praxis shows so much variety and highly promising talent that it's already drawing a lot of attention in the short time since it's release in November 2012. In addition to a kicking electric energy and frequently manic vocal delivery, the swirling flute crosses English band Jethro Tull with Italy's Quella Vecchia Locanda and Osanna, while the dirty organ/guitar interplay bridges Atomic Rooster with a rough Biglietto Per L'inferno RPI sound. This mixture of influences in addition to the use of English (though charmingly accented) vocals seems to be an attempt by the band to appeal to a world-wide audience, and there's no reason to think it won't happen on the strength of this magnificent first album.

Thirty seconds of humming machine ambience is all you get before finding out how unhinged and chaotic opener `Privileged Station' is - a tornado of shattering organ, dazzling rapid-fire guitar crunch and Andrea Calzoni's howling vocals. The heaviest piece on the album, like a nightmarish version of Van Der Graaf Generator at their wildest, the electric guitar frequently takes on a very serrated and cutting sound, and listen out for the bashing drum nastiness just after two minutes in! The second half settles into dreamy Pink Floyd moodiness as spacey guitars and bouncing bass wrap around each-other in the far reaches of space, with some early 70's Genesis marching drums, regal organs and floating flute thrown in for good measure. A killer opener, truly exhausting, and it just gets better from here.

The more mysterious `P.S.M' is closer to proper RPI, with an eerie gothic classical ambience in the synths and acoustic guitar playing, while running through several different tempos and atmospheres. Singing in a more reflective and thoughtful but typically passionate manner, lead vocalist Andrea sounds to my ears like an Italian accented Frank Bornemann from Germany's Eloy! Before long the piece kicks into gear and we're in true RPI territory with rough flute blowing and ghostly synths before a grand organ outro that sounds sinister, somber and uplifting all at the same time.

`Hoodlums' has almost cheeky and playful strutting bluesy electric guitar in the verses with a heavy organ/hard vocal chorus. Some searing guitar solos, lovely melodic strolling bass and barely contained crash-course drumming make for another catchy track, with a lovely sedate outro to balance out the busier moments on the album.

The gloomy and haunting `Black Crow' takes on a few similarities to Italian band Areknames with a very modern sound, yet contrasted here with RPI classical and acoustic majesty. It's a deeply gothic and unnerving piece, with a Banco-like schizophrenic and unpredictable identity as it leaps from oppressive moodiness, angry snaps to exhausting emotion. Andrea shows a lot of vocal dexterity here - soothing and sympathetic one minute, deranged and unleashed the next.

Mid-tempo instrumental `Awareness' is all super-thick loud Hammond organ, shimmering electronics and ragged Steve Howe picking - I especially dig guitarist Paolo's heavy run in the final minute! I'm sure there's almost a slightly creepy horror theme briefly worked in here. The best track on an album already full of great stuff, very addictive with catchy repeated musical melodies that make you want to play it over and over.

`Noon' is also predominately instrumental except for a brief vocal section in the final three minutes. Racing-against-time 70's prog guitar runs and darting flute dance throughout the plucky piece, with especially busy and crashing drumming raising the tension. Several parts of this piece become almost jazzy, and will greatly appeal to fans of Focus, only it's a little more aggressive. The final moments where the vocals enter ensures the album ends on a dramatic and commanding note.

A brief mention must go to the fascinating and surreal cover artwork that's a lot more richly detailed and subtle on closer observation. I suggest grabbing the vinyl version to truly appreciate it!

I would love next time for the band to consider recording two versions of the album, one with Italian vocals to really hammer home their RPI credentials. Proper commanding vocals in their native tongue that actually weave through the music is a true Italian progressive/RPI trademark when done properly, and that's the only thing that's really missing here. The English vocals work very well, but it robs the band a little of their RPI identity. Again, I have the feeling the band were hoping to make this album accessible to a wider audience, so their decision makes sense, but it's just a little disappointing.

Still, this is only a minor grumble against a confident and rich debut release, and the band can only go upwards from here. Those wanting to sample passionate and fiery Italian prog, but tempered with English influences for an easier first step into the RPI world could do no better than snapping up this album. You'll be rewarded with one of the most dynamic, colourful and blustery albums of 2012, and one that gets a talented new band off to a great start.

A well deserved four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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