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Unreal City - La Crudeltà di Aprile CD (album) cover


Unreal City


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.14 | 400 ratings

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5 stars Classic RPI with youthful sex appeal?! No really...

Overseen by prolific modern RPI maestro Fabio Zuffanti (credited with `artistic direction'), this new band from Emilia in Northern Italy brings a blast of youthful energy mixed with classic RPI grandness for a hugely confident and impressive debut work `La Crudeltà Di Aprile' (The Creulty of April). The members of Unreal City are in a very interesting position here. Take a look at the promo video for the album track `Dove La Luce E Piu' Intensa'. They're a bunch of good looking stylish boys and an attractive female guitar player that will instantly catch the eye of younger ones, who'll possibly also be taken in by the swooning, dramatic and romantic lead vocals of virtuoso keyboard player Emanuele Tarasconi. Add in some guitar grunt to appeal to those younger listeners, a touch of dark drama for the gothic crowd, all topped off by a dazzling array of piano and synths and we have exactly the sort of music that will bring a true crossover appeal, showcasing proper Italian progressive classical grandiosity like the vintage acts from the 70's while bringing a modern and accessible edge to appeal to the current generation.

The album blasts off with a whirling synth, piano and bashing drum race across the starting line before `Dell'Innocenzo Perduta' establishes itself as a romantic ballad with Mellotron wisps, reflective piano and vocals full of sweet longing. The piece floats along on melodic clouds until at six minutes in it explodes into manic percussion, ragged Hammond organ and a sprightly violin uptempo reprise of the main refrain to the end. The ghostly `Atlantis' is all gothic gloomy Mellotron walls and booming grand piano in the opening, before swirling Mini-moog runs with confident chest- beating vocals, maniacal jazzy drumming, tip-toeing harpsichord and classical acoustic guitar - the band sure covers a lot of ground already here, and it fortunately all hangs together beautifully.

With a dark church organ, desperate vocals and booming percussion intro straight out of Eloy's `Ocean', `Catabasi' tears through an uptempo darting violin-fuelled passage with deranged unhinged shrieking, the guitars taking on a sexy sleazy strut! This sinister section will appeal to gothic fans, yet the second half, almost a laid-back country/blues rocker with moog soloing layered all over the top will take many by surprise! The finale quickly fades into `Dove La Luce...', with upbeat PFM instrumental playfulness and an impossibly stirring and grand vocal, especially the chorus. A special treat is the energetic and jazzy middle that sounds right out of UK retro poppers Kula Shaker!

The peppy and upbeat `Ecate' has a cheeky strolling bassline with gleefully unnerving organ, bluesy lead guitar and an almost reggae rhythm in parts. The band seems to be having a lot of fun here, and it's nice to hear them more relaxed and grooving without endless changes of direction. There's a nice punchy blast of heavy rocking guitar guitar grunt from Francesca Zanetta. It also lets the listener take a breath before the 18 minute album tour-de-force closer `Horror Vacui', a splendid mix of Banco-like schizophrenic unpredictability with wild tempo changes, long instrumental sections, oceans of Mellotron overload, spiraling Moog and Frederico Bedostri's snapping and complex drum-work. It incorporates every trick the band has shown throughout the rest of the album, and the fretless bass from Francesco Orefice near the end is a particular emotional standout here. This epic piece could not end the album in a more grand manner, and wraps up a virtually perfect album.

Immaculately produced, endlessly melodic and catchy without sacrificing sophistication and artistic integrity, `La Crudeltà Di Aprile' really knocked many of us RPI fans back even upon the first listen. It's rare to hear a band so confident, playing with such vigor and power. Sure they take on endless ideas and styles, but it's all so pleasing to the ear and well composed with a great sense of flow that the endless different sections shift seamlessly. I fully applaud Fabio Zuffanti's urging that the band sing in their native language, and a recent interview seemed to suggest they relished singing in Italian to `take advantage of all the quotes and expressions that would have been lost in English'. To the lads and lass in `Unreal City', real Italian progressive fans admire and are very grateful for this devotion and respect to the true sound of the RPI genre.

Like Gran Turismo Veloce, Unreal City show just what a modern Italian progressive band can achieve by blending the loved elements of the groundbreaking 70's RPI artists with something very contemporary, original and unique. The fact that they have a real crossover appeal, especially to a potential female and younger fanbase who usually wouldn't pay attention to this genre, just makes them even more promising and exciting, and ensures they are one band to keep an eye in the future.

Five stars. Highest possible recommendation and so far one of the best progressive albums, RPI or otherwise, to emerge in 2013.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 5/5 |


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