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3 stars Hello all,

First of all I wanted to say that I don't consider myself a good reviewer of albums as far as going into details song- by-song, etc.. I respect/admire those here that do that!!

I've been a big fan of Metamorfosi's Inferno since my ears feasted on it back in 1998 when I first heard it (that's when I discovered italian prog) thanks to "Tommy's Forest of Progressive rock". That is a classic of italian prog. Needless to say in 2004 I was very excited when I heard Paradiso was coming out and I was counting down the days to put down "whatever amount it took to get it" as I was expecting another Inferno. Sadly Paradiso was a big letdown for me as there were too many neo-prog (although I like neo prog) leanings and "forgettable" melodies on that album. In all honesty, I need to give that album more of a chance. Seems like everytime I listen to it, I keep hoping I'll finally "get it" and consider it a classic. And every time I listen to "paradiso", I struggle hard to make it all the way thru. Something(s) is just missing with that album (not enough vintage keys, melodies are weak, sounds too modern, etc.).

I guess that helps me with Purgatorio as I've been "dumbed down" by the disappointment of Paradiso. I learned of Purgatorio coming out a few months and thought "Oh really? cool! They're finally going to complete the trilog". But I was not expecting much as I thought "This will probably be more in quality like Paradiso than Inferno".

I've listened to this album now about 10 times so I may change my review/ratings as time goes. One such reviewer on "ratemymusic" says "I've heard it all before" and he gave Purgatorio a low (2 star) rating out of 5.

On to my personal thoughts after 10 listens. It's no Inferno (by golly that one is a classic) but it's better than Paradiso to my ears. Maybe I just like darker/sinister overtones more and this album is more dark/sinister than Paradiso (why wouldn't it tho since it's about Purgatory rather than Heaven).

Album runs about 58 minutes, starts out with a narration over a familiar melody heard in Inferno over a 'pipe organ'. Well that's cool, they use some pipe organs here like the Abominable Dr. Phibes. Nice touches there. Spitaleri vocals are as good as ever and show no sings of aging/weariness. That is evident on the album's most sinister (and short 1 minute) track "Porte di Purgatorio" in which Spitaleri sounds like he did in the closing adrenalene-rushing 10 minutes of the "Inferno" album.

Keyboards by Oliveri and the bass guitar is musicianship is very good. There's still some modern sounding keys (like Paradiso) but Oliveri seems to have added some pipe organs and the occassional ELP analog sounds (that was missing on Paradiso).

There are some other nice pieces like "Angelo Nocchiero" with Spitaleri's operatic vocals over what sounds like a flute-organ and a nice fingerpicking arpeggio on the electric backing. "Negligenti" has a melancholic piano solo (which could fit on Felona E Sorona) and then a nice sad vocal section by Spitaleri (operatic tho in the Francescio Di Giacomo tradition) and then it goes to "heaven" with a beautiful vintage 70's italian keys sound like on the Le Orme Uomo Di Pezza/Felona and RDM's "Contaminizione" albums.

There a lot more to like on this album than with Paradiso. But please don't expect another "Inferno" or you will be disappointed. That should not, however, dissuade you from checking out this album.

I don't think I ever officially rated their other 2 albums. I'd rate "Inferno" as a 4.5 and a classic in the RPI. "Paradiso" a disappointing 2.5 that I found hard to get into (just dull) no matter how many times I tried too. For Purgatorio, a step up and a 3.5. With more listens (as I plan to), I could be persuaded to change my rating to a 4. It already went up from a 3 to a 3.5 after about 10 listens.

The album cover is pretty cool too on this one.

3.5 stars Really.

Report this review (#1669285)
Posted Saturday, December 17, 2016 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The path of Italian RPI group Metamorfosi has been an interesting one. Starting, like many of the future defining Italian prog acts, with a humble little debut that mixed Sixties pop, gospel and folk elements (1972's `...E Fu il Sesto Giorno'), a year later they would deliver what would become one of THE legendary Italian progressive works with `Inferno', also one of the greatest keyboard-dominated albums in all of the genre, based around one part of the epic `Divina Commedia' (Divine Comedy) poem, a source that would continue as inspiration for continued Metamorfosi works over the decades. Despite a third album being written soon after the seminal 1973 work, the band split and it would remain unrecorded, at least until a version of the group reformed in the Nineties with a new bassist/guitarist and drummer, to be finally released as the gentler `Paradiso' in 2004. But with grand singer Jimmy Spitaleri finished with his commitments to fellow notable Italian proggers Le Orme (having performed lead vocals on their `Prog Files - Live in Rome' set and very underrated `La Via Della Setta' studio album between 2010-11), 2016 brings us the middle `Purgatorio' chapter of the tome, and while it doesn't hold too many genuine surprises, it's sublime, bombastic and lavish symphonic progressive music as only the Italian bands do so well.

A quick and overly simplified history lesson - The `Divina Commedia' is a long narrative poem written by Dante Alighieri, begun in 1308 and completed in 1320, and is considered a preeminent work in Italian literature. The poem presents an imaginative vision of the afterlife, separated into three sections - Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory) and Paridiso (Paradise). Written in the first person, the poem tells of Dante's journey through these three realms, guided by Roman poet Virgil through the first two, then by his courtly love interest Beatrice through Heaven.

The notion of purgatory is regarded as the intermediate state between life and death, in some beliefs a place a person goes to be judged to determine where their soul's eternal destiny is assigned - heavy going stuff! Sure enough, it means that `Purgatorio' is a much more frequently dramatic and darker work than the previous `Paradiso', one that allows for plenty of the classical bombast and theatrical flourishes expected of the group over lengthy and continuous suites of music. Throughout the album, they offer passages and lyrics based around the surreal events detailed in the poem, so please excuse the rather awkward descriptions that follow!

Right from the start, `Eco dagli Inferi' (Echo from Hell) is a foreboding gothic spoken-word narration over cavernous keyboard atmospheres that launches right into strident rocker `Catone' with Enrico Olivieri's humming Hammond organ and whirring synths, Fabio Moresco's pounding drums and Jimmy Spitaleri's commanding boisterous croon detailing a meeting with Cato, once a Roman military leader who now serves as warden to the entrance of the mountain of Purgatory. `Angelo Nocchiero' is a reflective interlude to convey a beautiful white angel in charge of transporting the souls residing in purgatory by boat, `Negligenti' a swooning lament detailing an encounter with those doomed to wait outside the entrance of Purgatory for a term equal to their lives on Earth, and the playfully malevolent `La Malastriscia', full of frantic instrumental organ pomp and a heavy wild vocal conveying a confrontation between a serpent/devil and the two angels that drive it away.

Covered over the following ten tracks, the arrival at the gates of Purgatory (`Porta del Purgatorio') leads to journeying through the seven terraces that represent the seven roots of sinfulness. `Superbi' (Pride) has relentless scathing synth-emulated orchestration and choirs, `Invidiosi' (Envy) is a sorrowful and thoughtful piano reflection and `Iracondi' (Wrath) is an infectious whirring keyboard theme with a jazzy electric piano solo in the middle. `Accidiosi' (Sloth) is a propulsive organ and harpsichord-laced interlude, `Golosi' (Gluttony) has a playful lurch to its slithering keyboard and electric piano stabs, and `Avari e Prodighi's upfront lead synth themes (with nice bass soloing from Leonardo Gallucci) and the electronic-dominated `Lussuriosi Purgatorio' convey Avarice and Lust.

At the summit of Mount Purgatory lies the Earthly Paradise (the Garden of Eden), perfectly represented by the purely instrumental `Paradiso Terrestre', an extended showcase for Enrico Olivieri's calming and victorious piano soloing and proud keyboard fancy. `Beatrice', the woman who symbolizes Dante's path to God, is a piano and vocal swoon, `Il Carro e L'aquila' details her triumphant arrival on griffin-drawn chariot and is grand keyboard-dominated pomp, and closer `E Rinnovato Volo' (renewed flight) is a stirring symphonic finale. With a glorious sweeping vocal, Leonardo's sweetly gliding bass and precious guitar chimes and a heavenly choral climax, it's a dignified and emotional tune to soundtrack her rebuking of his sins, his drinking from the River Lethe which erases his memory of past sin and restores his good memories, and prepares him for his ascent to Heaven (the third act of the Divina Commedia, which was adapted by the band on their 2004 album `Paradisio').

Please be aware - completely frustratingly, there is a world of difference between the LP and CD versions, with the vinyl edition leaving out seven tracks from the album. Admittedly the full album is definitely overlong at just over 56 minutes, but despite how amazing Giuseppina Laura Tarantola's watercolour cover art must look on the larger package, these sort of `highlights compilation' rearrangements to fit an ill-fitting format that here leaves out over 16 minutes of music is completely inexcusable (especially considering some of the stand-out pieces on the album like the instrumental `Paradiso Terrestre' are removed). If you're interested in the album and want the full experience the way it is meant to be heard, the CD edition is your only option.

`Purgatorio' was never going to be an `Inferno' beater (honestly, would ever would?), and some listeners may find that this really doesn't offer anything new when compared to many of the recent `comeback' albums from important vintage period Italian prog bands. But the amount of effort gone into painstakingly writing, producing and performing an interpretation of such a multi-layered and complex work is hugely commendable of the group, and their efforts actually encourage further study of the origin of the material that proves richly rewarding. In addition to Laura Tarantola's above-mentioned cover art and the gorgeous illustrations inside the accompanying CD booklet from Bruno Tarantola that have to be seen to be believed, `Purgatorio' ticks all the right boxes fans could want to Italian progressive music and the grand symphonic music of that country, truly `RPI' in its purest form, and anything less than top marks would be grossly insulting.

Five stars.

Report this review (#1725997)
Posted Wednesday, May 24, 2017 | Review Permalink

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