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Heavy Prog • Italy

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Hero biography
A lost group from the progressive rock movement of Italy in the 1970's that has finally seen the light of day with the recent reissue of their only album, 1972's self titled album. The group included Robert Deller (keyboards, vocals), Massimo Pravato (guitar, bass), and Umberto Maschio (drums). They left Italy after forming for Germany where they took up residency in Munich where they recorded their album. Massimo Pravato was killed in a car accident in 1973. The album was released in 1974 only in Germany and until last years reissue of the album on CD it was forgotten and went largely unnoticed.

Their self titled album is good example of a solid hard prog with nice keyboard work Noteable for in an era that had many 'short' albums the album was lengthy clocking in at over 46 minutes.

The group is worth a listen. Would recommend only to those who have money to burn and are looking for really hidden albums in the Rock Progressivo Italiano genre. That said.. having owned the reissue for about six months.. it still get regular rotation. Good group and wouild have liked to have seen what they might have followed this up with.

Why this artist must be listed in :
Hard prog of decent to good quality.. a part of the Rock Progressivo Italiano movement. Not essential in the least, but very interesting.

Hero, studio album (1974)

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3.05 | 37 ratings

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 Hero by HERO album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.05 | 37 ratings

Hero Heavy Prog

Review by Igor91

4 stars I recently came across this obscure Italian band on YouTube and became intrigued enough to purchase the AMS/Vinyl Magic CD reissue. Hero was truly an oddity in their home country, sounding nothing like the progressive bands there. Perhaps that is why they traveled to Germany to play and record their sole LP. Not to say that they sounded exactly like Krautrock, but they certainly had more in common with that scene than with the scene in Italy.

There is a notable influence of the British heavy prog bands of the period, and they are categorized as such here on PA. However, to lump Hero in with the other heavy prog bands of that era would be unjust. They were an odd heavy prog band, and I'm sure that is why they found an audience in Germany.

Their self-titled album starts off with "Merry Go Round," a good, albeit fairly standard, heavy prog tune. The lack of bass in the mix is highly noticeable on this track, and takes away some of the power that it could have had. In parts the guitar wails some nice power chords that miss that extra "oomph" of a solid baseline. The bass is more pronounced on other tracks, thankfully. There is nice balance of soft and heavy on this song, something that is a nice signature throughout the disc. "Crumbs of a Day" follows, and starts off as a free-jazz influenced guitar jam, that eventually settles into a cool, dark song. The real turning point for the album comes with the third track, "Sunday Best." While everything was good up to this point, "Sunday Best" grabs my attention with opening with a xylophone, displaying more variety than the first two songs. "Seminar" and "Children's Game" are both really stellar heavy prog tunes in compact form.

The next tune of note is "Knock," which opens with some very avant-garde styled music and vocals, that, quite honestly, come off a bit annoying. But within a minute and a half, the song changes up and actually finishes quite strong. The next two songs, "Clapping And Smiling," and "Dew Drops" are on the longer side, and both showcase some interesting moments and solid interplay between the musicians. The album closes with the acoustic "Buzzards," complete with a somber spoken word section.

As mentioned in previous reviews here on PA, the lyrics are a bit baffling, being more like dark poetry than actual song lyrics. If you are one who really likes to pay attention to lyrics, this could be problematic for you. For me, lyrics are always secondary, and there is nothing here that is so bad that it is off-putting. Another critique would be that some of the songs are oddly structured. Some end abruptly, there are few real choruses, and there are many musical left turns throughout. Some reviewers have criticized Hero as sounding "amateur." While there are no virtuosos in the band, all are solid performers, and shine at certain moments on the album. In addition, the production is rather raw, which I feel gives the music a dark, rough edge, as opposed to sounding amateurish.

When I look back at my own critique of this LP, I'm tempted to give it a mere 3 stars. But, when I listen to this I really enjoy it, warts and all. "Hero" is kind of a flawed gem, in that, despite it's faults, it actually shines quite brightly. This obscure recording deserves to be heard and appreciated, and should please fans of heavy prog looking for something a bit different. I give it an official rating of 3.5 stars, and round it up to 4 to help garner this puppy a little more positive attention.

 Hero by HERO album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.05 | 37 ratings

Hero Heavy Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

3 stars Italians serving up sauerkraut like it was Mamma's recipe

With only a few stops left in Italy before my road trip takes me further through Europe, I thought it was about time for an album that sounds completely unlike any other made in its native country. The last review I did, I mentioned Franco Leprino developing his own unique style of electronic music on the back-draft of the Berlin School, but with this zany act called Hero(I have no clue as to why they're named that actually. Feels bizarre when you face the music....) the remnants of that ever so soft and velvety Italian touch are gone - traded in for a bulky in your face attitude and a psychedelic aura about it that screams weed, tandem bikes and crossbows. Recorded in Münich 1972 their self titled album bears absolutely no resemblance to what was happening in Italy around the same time. Whereas a guy like Battiato were fondling up synths and his famous VCS3 much in line with the Krautrockers, with Hero you sense an altogether more rocking approach to the German scene.

Somewhere along a sludgy Van Damme Generator meeting up with the lads from Exmagma, Comus, Birth Control and Eloy and you're nearly there. It's not at all impossible to spot the different influences throughout the album, and tell you the truth, as zany as the album feels and sounds, it's not like it was re-inventing the wheel. Often mad and crazy music gets undeserving accolades of being fabulously progressive, when all the music really's doing is being complex for the sake of being just that: complex. This album is more focused on feel though, and it shows in the interplay. So yeah a lot of balls and fire, but not so much in the original department. Faust fx did this kind of thing far more successful, - and yet when I put on Hero, there's this inexplicable surge of rocking energy pacing through me. It's a pleasure to listen to, simple as that.

The raw hammond organ, the feel of circus and mad theme parks, the forceful guitar riffs emanating a strong Sabbath vibe as well as the more frail acoustic trinkles, the feedback noises - all these are highlights on a record that I only recently have opened up to. The main reason as to why I had a rather hard time getting into it was undoubtedly the vocals. I am and have always been a firm believer of using your native tongue, especially if you speak English like Manuel from Fawlty Towers..... Moreover, when you happen to come from a part of the world, where the language is so expressive and melodic, why would you go ahead and trade all that away with odd 'ze' noises when confronted with a 'th' constellation? (I know the answer to that question though) On here the vocals are definitely an acquired taste, but then again the vocalist does seem to sport a minor crush on the equally challenging vocal chords of one Peter Hammill.

Featured on the Nurse With Wound list, Hero recently seems to have gotten a few reviews scattered across the net, and personally I find that a little heart warming. It may not be the unequivocal masterpiece many of these lost n found treasures are claimed to be, but there's a twinkle in it's eye and a mad groove boosting out of it, that I have come to enjoy immensely.

 Hero by HERO album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.05 | 37 ratings

Hero Heavy Prog

Review by coasterzombie

4 stars After seeing Hero on the Nurse With Wound List earlier this week, I decided to take a chance on an album that has as many detractors as it does fans...boy, am I glad I did. Hero's singular eponymous album is strange, ridiculously heavy, morose and awesome. Even after listening to it only a few times now, I can confidently say Hero is excellent, if not essential for Heavy Prog collectors. It is a stretch to affiliate Hero with Rock Progressivo Italiano, as only two members of the group hailed from Italy, and the band was based in Germany. But I don't hear much Krautrock influence; by and large, Hero is much more melodic and song-based than anything from Can or Amon Duul II, but at times does skew slightly bizarre. This is probably most evident in Robert Deller's vocals: Not quite English, but not exactly German either. The British-born keyboardist definitely has a distinctive voice, which at times can annoy and confuse the listener. But it is the music that warrants most praise here; to categorize Hero as merely good and non-essential does not do the album justice.

The album begins with "Merry Go Round," as some cymbal flourishes and guitar noodling slither behind Deller's lyric. Guitarist/bassist Massimo Pravato is the star of this show in my opinion. Perhaps his untimely death in 1973 only adds to the mystique of his playing, but his technique is quite singular and unusual. It is kind of like a cross between Tony Iommi and Michele Zarrilo from Semiramis, with some Greg Ginn thrown in for good measure. "Crumbs of a Day" show him in a frantic light, as if he were in some guitar note playing contest to see who could clear the room fastest. "Sunday Best" is the crown jewel of the entire album. The intro featuring vibes reminds me a lot of Patto, only much, much darker. While the song does take a while to make its point, the payoff is huge as the last 90 seconds is a powerful ensemble realization - which ends abruptly. "Seminar" is more organ-driven, and one of my least favorite tracks on the record. "Children's Game" returns to the sound that made "Sunday Best" so great, a workout in odd-meter with some nice drumming and a spacy, Crimsonian middle section.

"Knock" is hard to listen to. Avant-rock is the best way to describe it. Or, Rock In Opposition before such a thing existed. The last half of it is okay, but you may end up skipping the song before you get to it. "Clapping and Smiling," despite it's length, is really no more progressive than anything else on Hero, but is a nice change of pace from the heaviness thus far. "Dew-Drops" shows more experimentation and a creepy organ sound throughout; Pravato rescues the song from becoming too self-important. He also sees the album off in a gentle way on "Buzzard," a song that would not be out of place in a Wes Anderson film. I may eventually find Hero to be a masterpiece of prog, but for now, four stars will suffice.

 Hero by HERO album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.05 | 37 ratings

Hero Heavy Prog

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Forever to remain lost in the depths of time and space... and quite rightly so. There's a colossal amount of music like this from the same period and the less unusual ones somehow deserve to be stuck in a black hole. There's nothing original about this sole album from 'Hero'. It's a run-of- the-mill early 70's prog album with all the usual trappings. Occasionally hard prog, a wee bit bluesy and mostly forgettable.

It's middling to average throughout it's entirety with nothing really lousy and nothing really great. Robert Deller's voice whilst not bad may leave you cringing in embarrassment at the cod English accent on display. There's some big slabs of ugly Hammond Organ too which I have an unusual aversion to.

I do like the unique artwork on the cover however. It's instantly recognisable amongst my cd collection. That's about the best I can say of this recording I'm afraid. It's certainly not going to make it to the top of anyone's 'favourite album of all time' list.

 Hero by HERO album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.05 | 37 ratings

Hero Heavy Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I had an interesting journey with this album. My first listen was in my vehicle and I knew this was an italian band but that's all I knew. Anyway I got through the first track and popped it out being disappointed that something that sounded so early seventies had English vocals and just sounded like a heavy Proto-Prog band. Well fast forward a couple of weeks and I decide to spend some time with it in order to do this review. The big change in my attitude towards this album came when I realized that this wasn't RPI, this was heavy Psychedelic music with that Krautrock spirit. As soon as I understood this I fell for it. So imagine my surprise when after i've done my review I read on the "net" that this band moved to Germany for a couple of years and recorded this album there in 1972 with a German record label. Maybe surprise isn't the right word but I felt really happy about myself (haha). Believe me it doesn't happen often. Sadly the singer died in an accident in 1973 the year before this was released.

This is a concept album and I found some the lyrics quite moving as it deals with childhood stuff. "Merry Go Round" opens with cymbals as tasteful guitar plays over top and reserved vocals join in. The vocals don't stay reserved for long though as it kicks in after 1 1/2 minutes. Heavy SABBATH-like guitar here as the contrasts continue. "Crumbs Of A Day" opens with drums, bass, guitar and floating organ. Vocals before 2 minutes then it picks up. Nice. "Sunday Best" has spacey keys and the vocals arrive before 1 1/2 minutes as it kicks in. It becomes pretty laid back each time the vocals stop. "Seminar" is a fairly aggressive song with prominant organ and guitar. Vocals come and go.

"Children's Game" is raw and aggressive at times. "Knock" has vocals that sort of shout out the lyrics. Not a big fan of this. It becomes powerful after 1 1/2 minutes followed by vocals and a more melodic soundscape. "Clapping And Smiling" has acoustic guitar and piano to start as reserved vocals join in. We get some passion before 4 1/2 minutes and some nice guitar a minute later. The music stops then spoken words come in then it builds. The guitar is great later. "Dew-Drops" is experimental and psychedelic early on. Drums start to lead as the organ joins in. Killer sound after 3 minutes. A calm 4 1/2 minutes in. It picks up a minute later with organ then the guitar comes in. Hell yeah ! "Buzzard" ends it with picked guitar and spoken words.

I will be keeping this in my Psychedelic / Krautock section for sure. A solid 4 stars.

 Hero by HERO album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.05 | 37 ratings

Hero Heavy Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

2 stars I've read a lot of regional music history books over the years, but as I listened to this album for the first time it occurred to me that I've never read one about the German music scene. I'll definitely have to add this to the 'to-do' list.

I get the impression there were all kinds of bands running around Germany in the early seventies, including many who were imports and/or were comprised of multinational memberships. Of those a fair number played some form of heavy progressive music, including Sweet Smoke, Krokodil, Prudence, Odin and these guys. All of them seem to have been influenced by the Krautrock sound at least a bit, and Hero were no exception.

At least two of the three members were of Italian descent, while according to various biographies the lead singer and keyboardist Robert Deller was "English". He sounds very American to me, but I can't find any information that would confirm or deny this. In any case his lineage gives him the ability to deliver all the band's vocals in English, which given the fact they left Italy to pursue their career might have helped them touring had they managed to hold together longer. Guitarist Massimo Pravato was killed in an auto accident shortly after this album was recorded, and the band was all but defunct before it even released.

Like some of the bands I mentioned above the blend of backgrounds and transplant to Germany (Munich in this case) seem to have resulted in a fairly eclectic and experimental nature to Hero's music, although it still manages to stay firmly planted in heavy rock territory for the most part. There is the odd spoken-word acoustic closer "Buzzard", but otherwise things stay heavy but adventurous throughout.

I have to say that the first few times I spun this thing I was a tad put off by the first couple of tracks. The opening "Merry Go Round" starts off well enough; brooding guitar intro and a building sense of anticipation that things are going to explode into something brilliant. But when the onslaught comes its rather flat with insipid lyrics and far too reminiscent of the Spinal Tap space-egg concert scene for my comfort. And while I love Hammond organ as much as the next progophile, one has to at least attempt to play it within the construct of the music which barely seems to be the case here. The second song "Crumbs of a Day" is frankly worse, a mash-up of improvisational guitar feedback riffs, staccato drumming and Hammond that oscillates wildly between overpowering and nonexistent. I actually do like Buzzard's vocals on this one and that may be its one saving grace.

After several playings I've begun to warm to the first couple of tracks a bit more, but I still have a bit of trouble getting Spinal Tap out of my head when I hear them.

Things do get better very quickly with "Sunday Best", one of the longer songs on the album and much more controlled and (dare I say) melodic than the first two. The band shows their chops a bit with some vocal harmonizing as well. I like the way the group lets the Hammond take center stage on this song and don't overwork the guitar or percussion to try and fill any spaces left by the keyboards. The result is something that sounds clean and precise which I always expect of Italian hard rock, but at the same time retains that undeniable Krautrock heavy, almost metal scent.

"Seminar" breaks up the mood with a more stilted organ sound and jerky tempo that was more than likely meant to be delivered to stoned teenagers in concert. I can just see a human wave of long-hairs in black t-shirts undulating to the frenzied tempo, index and little fingers extended and a f**k-the-world sneer on their faces. Further proof that heavy metal has strong roots in both progressive rock.

On the other hand "Children's Game" is more balanced between keyboards and guitar and, while this one is also quite heavy, manages to come off as more of a mood piece than a headbanger. "Knock" is a variation on "Seminar" and despite the decent guitar soloing late in the song could have been left off the album in my opinion.

If the band had a signature tune it would probably be "Clapping and Smiling", a nine-minute dirge that starts of as acoustic guitar noodling over wispy keyboards, builds to a heavy midsection before stretching out with more expansive keyboards and electric guitar noodling before rising up once again briefly to climax. I can't say the group innovated anything with this song, but they did manage to keep it together and tight for more than nine minutes without any obvious improvisation or lack of studio discipline, which tells me they were pretty decent musicians. "Dew-Drops" is sort of a reverse construction of this, starting off heavy and laying out a couple times in the middle but finishing strong. Here there is evidence of improvising though, particularly on keyboards. I get the sense the band was running out of ideas by this point, not surprising considering this is a debut and the album is more than forty-five minutes long.

Good luck finding the original vinyl of this thing. There are at least four CD reissues I know of and even a vinyl reissue but that one is probably lost to time as well. I've no idea which of these is legitimate and which are dubious knockoffs although I will say my copy is not a remastered reissue so I have my doubts about it. Anyway, it probably doesn't matter if you follow my recommendation, which is not to look too hard for this record. It has its moments but is for the most part lost to time because it deserves to be. Two stars out of five for collectors of obscure multinational prog music, but otherwise keep moving down the record aisle and look for something under "I" or "J".


 Hero by HERO album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.05 | 37 ratings

Hero Heavy Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Hero is a forgotten italian group from mid '70's who plays heavy prog. Their selftitled only album from 1974 bring nothing new under the heavy prog flag, but holds good pieces, that needs maybe a better attention by prog listners. This album is so rare that took me ore than 4 month to find it, on Cd, the original release on vinyl from 1974 is lost somewhere in dust of time and worth fortunes for collectors. Anyway is pretty rare even on Cd, and not many listners heared about this italian band. Their music is heavy prog with keybords arrangements and nice shifts between guitar and predominant instrument keys, but don't expect to another ELP influenced album. The most unintristing thing here is the voice of Robert Deller, who is not a bad vocalist, but don't shines at all, he only sings the notes. Now the music remainds me in places with early german bands Walpurgis and Dull Knife, and on piece Knock, the manner of interpretation of Robert Deller on voice is like on any Vand Der Graaf Generator album from early'70's, he realy is one on one with Peter Hammill here. The music as I said is heavy prog but very vague in contrast with what other bands done it in that times, seams thay didn't manage to creat something realy great, that's why this album is a good one but nothing special. This band remains unknown even for italian scene not to mention the rest of the planet. Influences are from german heavy prog scene and in places from Van Der Graaf Generator and even that dark atmosphere from King Crimson music mostly in arrangements. Finaly the best pieces are Childrens game, the longest track from here Clapping and Smiling and Dew drops, the rest are only ok. I will give to this album 2.5 rounded to 3, not realy bad but nothing to talk about either. One of those bands that for one reason or other goes into oblivion.
 Hero by HERO album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.05 | 37 ratings

Hero Heavy Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Something was in the water.

This one goes on my lost gem shelf. One of the weirdest albums I've heard in a while but I've taken quite a liking to it. At first play you might really think this sucks but it is a definite grower.

It might be categorized as Italian symphonic but to my ears this is lost hard psych rock. Very strange, like mixing Sabbath riffs with Jan Dukes de Grey, Traffic pacing, and some Morrison darkness in the lyrics.

Another view of the sound is as follows: "Musically I would consider Hero a combination of art rock with a heavy progressive feel, there are vibes from Gong, Van Der Graaf Generator, early Floyd and King Crimson most definitely, but there is also a dark doomy sound to it as well." [end quote from]

The 9-minute standout track "Clapping and Smiling" is really quite a departure from the earlier tracks, featuring a lovely piano and folksy acoustic guitar for the first third. Then things again get powerful with hard vocals, Bill Ward style drumming and guitar that begs to be played loud. That final third of the song slows down again and gets pretty spacey and reminds me a little of Syd Barrett were he fronting a hard rock band! I told you this was weird stuff!

The album closes with a nice acoustic piece called "Buzzard" which serves to smooth out the previous sonic assaults and talk us in off the ledge. The final lyrical line is: "My pain will serve to be something." Before the album was even released their guitarist Massimo was killed in an auto wreck adding further weight to the strange mood of this work.

The playing is both amateurish-sounding in places and yet still quite compelling overall. The LP-sleeve reissued CD is very nice with a band history and bonus track. Vocals are in English.

Hero is an album that has become a prized keeper for me but I understand it will appeal to a relatively small portion of this site. For me this is a 4-star album but for many of you it will be 2-3 I would guess. If you are really into early 70s dark and weird hard rock that defies easy categorizing, Hero might blow your mind. Or perhaps just irritate your family.

 Hero by HERO album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.05 | 37 ratings

Hero Heavy Prog

Review by micky
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars I came onto this album, last fall, in a shameful attempt to outdo the master himself Erik Neuteboom in finding albums and groups that even the family members of the group members themselves , wouldn't even remember or know hahaha. I saw that this album was being rereleased after being long out of print. I saw the chance to have a rereleased 1974 RPI (Rock Progressivo Italiano) album that probably few had heard, and I jumped at it. First impresssions... a waste of $18 musically though still a chance to add a new artist to the my beloved RPI, and my expense check from PA's would cover that cost hahaha. My enthusiasm for trying to outdo Erik however waned and the group sat outside PA's and the album sat on my shelf. Fast forward several months later and I'm sitting at the computer, screwing around on PA's and I felt the urge to hear something different. I spied the baby blue cover of the CD crying out to be heard at least one more time so I gave it another chance, this time something grabbed me. I listened again.. and again .. and again. Don't let me kid you, this album is not the 2nd coming of Close to the Edge.. or even Caress of Steel hahaha but it is a decent album. Over time several of the tracks have actually grown on me to attain 'crank it up' status. All in all .. not a bad album by any means.

The music is generally a heavy prog, with the Hammond Organ the predominant instrument. Enough time changes to keep the listener on his toes, not virutoso musicians by any stretch of the imagination but very competant. The opening track Merry Go Round with that..great organ riff was the first thing on the album that really grabbed me. Sounds so good with the amplifier on 11. The next song Crumbs Of A Day is not bad, the 9/8 section in the middle salvages the song from the irratating guitar meanderings. Sunday's Best has a lovely atmospheric intro that extends well into the song that I enjoy. Seminar is a hard proggin song with a driving rhythm and nice Hammond organ as well. Children's Game is somewhat bland.. not much happening there, not really a favorite. Knock begins with... of course hahah.. a piano riff that immitates the pounding of fists on a door. Nice tempo death spiral into some musical meandering and noodling before heading into the main verse sections of the song. Once again nice stuff, nothing too exciting. Clapping and Smiliing is my favorite track on the album, at 9+ minutes a nice prog mini epic. A nice piano melody with accompanied by the accoustic guitar starts the song, continuing through the first verse sections. The pace changes with a nice gutar and organ riff that brings in the next verse sections. No clue what the song is about, but this is prog.. not pop. I don't listen to lyrics for the most part. Love the spacey atmospheric ending to the song. Good stuff. Dew-Drops is up next. It's primarily a showcase for Deller's keyboard work. Varied and interesting... good stuff.

As noted in the main section of the review, the lyrics aren't particularly noteworthy. Heck in many sections I can't understand what he is singing. It is in English but Deller either didn't have a powerful voice or he was put low in the mix. Again, it's alright, this is prog not pop. Lyrics are an afterthought hahah. Nice album.. one I like to listen to occasionally when vegging out on PA's or reading a book. I'll give it a personal rating of 2.5 stars for me and give it 1.5 for the forum at large. Not exactly unique or inventive, but with enough listens.. you may find something you like. I did and listen to this album more than all my Genesis albums combined hahha. Anyway 2 stars.. for collectors of RPI only.

Michael aka micky

Thanks to micky for the artist addition. and to easy livin for the last updates

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