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Antonius Rex

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Antonius Rex Zora album cover
2.89 | 39 ratings | 7 reviews | 13% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Gnome (6:16) - absent from 1977 LP
2. Necromancer (6:30)
3. Spiritualist Seance (10:07)
4. Zora (7:42)
5. Morte al Potere (6:12)

Total Time: 36:47

Extra bonus track on 2009 CD reissue:
6. Monastery (9:39)

Line-up / Musicians

- Antonio Bartoccetti / guitar, vocals
- Doris Norton / keyboards
- Albert Goodman / drums

Releases information

LP Tickle - TLPS 5013 (1977, Italy)
LP Tickle - TLPS 5018 (1978, Italy) With a bonus track
LP Black Widow Records - BWR 118 (2009, Italy) With a bonus track

CD Mellow Records - MMP 231 (1994, Italy) With a bonus track
CD Black Widow Records - BWRCD 118-2 (2009, Italy) With 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ANTONIUS REX Zora ratings distribution

(39 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(13%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(23%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (23%)
Poor. Only for completionists (8%)

ANTONIUS REX Zora reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars When I listened to the opening "The Gnome" it was hard to believe that this band had anything to do with "Jacula" in their earlier incarnation. I was not quite enthusiast about the first album from "Antonius Rex" but this song is by far the worse they have released so far.

The band (or "Jacula" before) proposed a very dark, heavy and scary prog which was almost instrumental. The contrast with this electro-pop tune is quite difficult to imagine. Some sort of Italian "new wave" with awful beats. Best avoided for sure?

The feel is different when "Necromancer" starts: one can get these wonderfully dark moments for a while, but when "vocals" enter the scene, some poor feeling surrounds you. It only gets better during the instrumental and jazzy section.

The usual church organ during "Spiritualist Sťance" provides some good vibes and is fully reminiscent of the "Jacula" 's debut work. The gloomy atmosphere is there, the scary themes as well, but the last third is too much like improvised and with little structure. They should have better cut a long story shorter?

At the end of the day, the best song might well be the title track. For once, it features truly vocals and some "gentle" melody (within "Antonius Rex' s concepts). But I'm not moved with the re- incarnation of "UFDEM". Was the band in lack of creativity to fill out an album of less than thirty seven minutes? Apparently.

This album really sounds as below average. As a vocalist, Doris Norton could never convinced me. She's just poor in her role. Two stars.

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Errors & Omissions Team
3 stars 01. The Gnome

Spacial, synthesizers like the wind, a drum almost 'dance' (laughs) and a bass line pretty cool. The voice of Antonio is simple and melodic. Full of melodies on keyboards and a 'wind' that walks all the time. There by 3 minutes double acoustic guitars come in and they make a very different melodie. The theme has its heavy structure, not in the Rock sense, but in the dark one. A long instrumental part that mentions both Disco Music and gothic rock, interesting mix.

02. Necromancer

The Italian Progressive scene has a basic feature, the voice, many times in the Italian bands vocal like this initial were used. A narrative, usually in melancholy, sad or sorry. After this short introduction, the keyboard is in charge, many syncopations with strategic stops and relied on a guitar too. From that point on is almost a free-jazz primed, a solo piano and keyboards throughout, and then still have the guitar soloing too, in a tone almost clean, actually two guitars. Until the end is what is heard, with a line of bass and drums holding all the music. Highlight for Doris Norton and her keyboards.

03. Spiritualist Seance

Once again the madness reigns, here comes the bad bit, and the narrative voice, footsteps and sounds of (which I imagine to be) a castle. What follows is the organ melody more beautiful than I've ever seen, worthy of appearing in any movie about religion (though ... oh never mind). A melodic sequence more than magic Doris built a beautiful epic theme. Close to 6 minutes and half a calling female embodies another character, leaving the track with a climate even heavier. As if the people claiming rights on the street, more vocals join the original voice.

04. Zora

This time we have a 'conventional' progressive with different time, elaborate melodies, and lots of crashing. After the introduction of an almost typical Italian voice, those melodic and beautiful. The melody that follows is pretty, guitar a fingering, the keyboard always present, and an interesting bass line. At the end the voice became active in their opening melody full of effects. This would be the end of the (short) drive a melody more progressive again (with the excellent drum of Albert Goodman) but this version has an extra sound.

05. Morte Al Potere

This way the guitar handle a wide range of soils and with a female vocal. The theme is unclear how the rest of the album, with accessible melodies, but always fallen for the melancholy or dark theme. The keyboards are organs like, which are perfect pro climate they needed. Grim! And crazy to the end! (Especially at the end).

Rare? Probably! Even the project more 'known' Antonio, the Jacula is easy to find.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Witch returns!

This was the last piece of the Antonius Rex discography to find me and it was not without some apprehension that I first played it. I had heard it was a spotty album and worried it might be in the same league as "Anno Demoni," which is my least favorite title from the band. After all, even the official Rex biography on their web site calls the early editions of the album "uninspiring" and "absurd" and claims the project was only completed "for the money." It does seem to be a project cobbled together in pieces between 1975-1978 when Norton and Bartoccetti were busy with a young child and admittedly disillusioned with the recording of music. Drummer Albert Goodman was likely the most enthusiastic member of the group at this point, and Bartoccetti also brought in two friends from the group Raminghi to beef up the tracks. To further cast a dark shadow on this project Goodman died in 1978 under what are reported to be "mysterious circumstances" made even more so due to his supposed dabblings in occultism. So given my low expectations, it was a very pleasant surprise indeed that I ended up being most enchanted by the Witch, the dangerous lady on the album cover. While not in the same league as Jacula, and a step down from the first Rex album, Zora still has plenty of nice moments which will please the fans of these eccentric artists.

We begin with "The Gnome" which was absent from the first vinyl release but added to the second. It's a strange one indeed, showcasing the disco-drumming technique of Mr. Goodman and the poor English vocals of one of the Raminghi guys. But it has some neat sound effects and a great dual acoustic lead section. "Necromancer" gives us a bit of Antonio's soothing narrative and some twisted, dark vocal to begin with. It opens into an odd jammy track with Doris laying down some jazzy piano against Antonio's guitar musings. Both "Spiritualist Sťance" and "Morte al Potere" are reworkings of material from the Jacula days, which Antonio pretty much admits is a strike against Zora's credibility. Yet these were strong albums and thus I didn't mind at all, I rather enjoyed hearing the new twists even if I ultimately prefer the original, especially the masterpiece "Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus." These interpretations are much less formal, loose, occasionally sloppy and of lower fidelity, but still fun. Anytime I can hear Doris' defiant siren song over that gothic church organ I am on board. The title track is all over the map but very enjoyable, with sections featuring straightforward rock, more Raminghi vocals, lovely keyboard/piano washes, and more beautiful, dreamy acoustic work from Antonio. What makes this version especially nice for the Rex fan is the addition of a very good bonus track in "Monastery." This 10 minute track was produced in 1980---I'm not certain but I suspect it was a product of the "Praeternatural" sessions as the sound is very similar. It's a gorgeous flowing piece with Doris' piano on a sea of synths, Antonio's cutting guitar scraping along in the background, then a beautiful acoustic guitar solo and an electric one.

Rex fans will certainly want to own this Black Widow anniversary edition which is another quality tri-fold digipak. You'll get the cool bonus track and a generous booklet of typical Rex strangeness, the highlight of which are a few photos of the strikingly beautiful Doris Norton (yes, I have a little crush on her.) Jacula/Rex newbies should not start here however. First, get both Jacula albums, the first Rex album, and the latter period "Switch on Dark." Then if you find these "esoteric observations" of sound and black magic to be entertaining, you can move on to Zora and the rest. Remember, Jacula and Rex should never be judged in the context of rock and roll. This is an experimental sound troupe if you will, who combine both modern and gothic sounds to create dark "sounds paintings." You must enter the mist in the spirit which was intended, if you are to play for the Witch. All titles have been lovingly restored on CD by Black Widow Records of Genoa. Hopefully the rumoured third Jacula release is next!

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Probably one of the more controversial albums in the Antonius Rex catalogue, `Zora' is a messy, incoherent and unfocused album that still manages to provide several exciting pieces of horror tinged music. It's easily the band's most varied and colourful release, jumping back and forth between uneasy comic-book style horror schlock, dark gothic moody passages and more traditional Italian prog. It's got a bad reputation for being a bit of a dud, but I've always found every Antonio Bartoccetti and Doris Norton Jacula/Antonius Rex work stands on it's own unique personality, and this one is no exception.

With it's pounding beat, tinkling hallucinatory piano, eerie synth solos and sound effects, opening track `The Gnome' sounds like almost no other Jacula/Rex piece the band ever worked on. Worryingly the beats are quite disco-oriented! The piece is highly kitsch and has a very B-grade horror/sci-fi sound, probably complimenting the album cover perfectly. Melodic but mumbled male vocals throughout make the track sound like a poorer version of `In Einsteinesse's Memory' from the later album `Ralefun', but that was a lot more pleasant and sophisticated than this one. Lively acoustic guitar and grooving bass amongst howling winds in the middle is the highlight.

While Antonio's typical Jacula/Rex narration and deep chanting opens `Necromancer', it's full of thick spacey synths from Dorin Norton that gives the track a very floating quality. After some passionate Italian sung vocals from Bartoccetti, we're back to more strange disco percussion with some quirky and very insane guitar melodies. The track then diverts into truly bent jazz directions, with some loose and upbeat piano soloing from Norton and both wild ragged electric guitar playing alongside clean crisp melodic runs from Bartoccetti. Like `Pactus' from the previous album, once it gets going it sounds almost nothing like the sort of gloomy music the band are usually associated with.

The beginning of the unnerving `Spiritualist Sťance' is similar to the previous album's `Devil Letter' - full of theatrical horror movie sound effects over low-key musical accompaniment. In this case, Norton's lonely and moving church organ, which even has a slight Rick Wright/early 70's Pink Floyd-like quality to it. This track even seems to have a very murky sound quality that gives the piece an even more unpleasant touch. The organ gets more wild, messy and downright violent as the piece progresses. The final few minutes are a vile storm of crashing percussion, glistening psychedelic keyboard effects, echoing flute, dirty wailing electric guitar and tormented possessed female cries before a very abrupt and uninspired fade out. Truly a dark piece that makes you feel like you're losing your mind.

The title track is a surprisingly tasteful, sprightly and almost upbeat Italian poppy prog rocker, with pleasant passionate Italian vocals and warm acoustic guitar more along the lines of P.F.M. The beginning and end sections have repetitive and maddening clean guitar riffs, ghostly washes of stylish synths and frantic piano solos. `Zora' would not have sounded out of place on the wonderful `Ralefun' album, which is the one in the Antonius Rex discography that comes closest to `traditional' 70's Italian prog.

Beginning and ending with a vile scream, `Morte At Potere' is a remake/new interpretation of the track `U.F.D.E.M' from the second Jacula album. This time the piece is more deeply psychedelic, with supremely thick and dirty electric guitar, wilting flute and foul organ, while Doris Norton records another take of her throaty tortured lead vocals from the first version. There's enough differences to make it interesting enough to stand on it's own.

The bonus track `Monastery' that comes with the CD version is a long floating synth/piano piece that almost sounds like electronic music in places. Programmed percussion pumps alongside swampy country acoustic guitar and bluesy electric solos. The beats make it fit with almost dancier synth pieces like `Angels and Demons' on the more recent Rex albums many years later. Although a welcome bonus, I don't think it's fair to consider this part of `Zora', as it not only sounds nothing like the rest of that album, but it clearly comes from a later recording session as well.

Special mention must go the astounding vintage 70's comic book erotic horror album sleeve! Sadly this album is the `black sheep' in my collection, it's the only album from this artist I have on CD, and it's the one I truly would have appreciated on vinyl due to that front cover! Sadly, even the vinyl reissue from a few years ago I stalled on getting is long since sold out and commands a lot of money.

Listeners unfamiliar with Bartoccetti and Norton's work should certainly not start with this album. I think even collectors of this artist should leave this until last - and even then approach with caution! It's an album that's severely underwhelming and confusing on first listen but eventually proves to be a worthy release in it's own right, and even compliments some of the later `Ralefun' album. As I always point out in my reviews, each of the Rex/Jacula releases has it's own identity and sound - `Zora' is psychedelic, colourful and schizophrenic, and a real one-off in their fascinating and worthwhile discography.

Three stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Too many people who listen to extreme Metal have filled their mouths with Antonius Rex and Jacula without ever having listened to them. Antonius Rex (Antonio Bartoccetti) is a strange character that I have always compared to Arthur Brown only that Antonio Bartoccetti is more extreme and occult. ... (read more)

Report this review (#2417493) | Posted by OLD PROG | Sunday, July 5, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Zora is a flawed, but ultimately fun album by the bizarre Italian outfit Antonius Rex. Were it not for the incredibly charming opener, The Gnome, I'm not sure that I would have stuck it out, but that tune is like a kiddy version of something Goblin might do (and I adore Goblin), with happy creepy ... (read more)

Report this review (#1066225) | Posted by Zahler | Friday, October 25, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars 'Zora' is not sure the best album of Antonius Rex and in my opinion 'Zora' is good only because aged well. But for the rest my blood not flowing in my veins more smoothly after a careful listening to 'Zora'! Probably because the start of this album is with 'The Gnome' a good song but... That ... (read more)

Report this review (#253974) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Wednesday, December 2, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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