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LA MASCHERA DI CERA

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


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La Maschera Di Cera picture
La Maschera Di Cera biography
Founded in Genova, Italy in 2001

Hello, fans of genuine 70's Italian Prog... Rejoice! Fabio ZUFFANTI (FINISTERRE) just came out with his new side project, LA MASCHERA DI CERA. The music mounts back to the best Mellotron / Moog driven symphonic prog performed by bands like MUSEO ROSENBACH or IL BALLETO DI BRONZO. All the ingredients are in place: distorted basses, accoustic guitars, an excellent vocalist and very inspired flute passages complete the set. The result is a nostalgic flash-back to the roots of the italian prog. A must for fans of this country's very best!

See also: WiKi

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LA MASCHERA DI CERA discography


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LA MASCHERA DI CERA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.98 | 153 ratings
La Maschera Di Cera
2002
4.08 | 162 ratings
Il Grande Labirinto
2003
4.00 | 160 ratings
LuxAde
2006
3.58 | 110 ratings
Petali Di Fuoco
2009
4.02 | 306 ratings
Le Porte Del Domani
2013
3.79 | 92 ratings
The Gates Of Tomorrow
2013

LA MASCHERA DI CERA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.18 | 15 ratings
In Concerto
2004

LA MASCHERA DI CERA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

LA MASCHERA DI CERA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 5 ratings
Le Porte del Domani (2CD+LP Collector's Box Set)
2013

LA MASCHERA DI CERA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

LA MASCHERA DI CERA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Il Grande Labirinto by MASCHERA DI CERA, LA album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.08 | 162 ratings

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Il Grande Labirinto
La Maschera Di Cera Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars On this album La Maschera di Cera really set out their stall in terms of offering a distinctive, retro-progish take on the 1970s Italian prog sound. It obviously sounded authentic - they got the nod to do Le Porte del Domani as an official sequel to Felona e Sorona, after all - but in subsequent years I feel like this has been overshadowed by superior works from La Maschera. As well as the aforementioned Le Porte, this was followed by the masterful LuxAde, which remains my favourite album of theirs, and whereas that also ran to over an hour that managed to hold my interest much better than this piece, which in many ways is a dry run for LuxAde and doesn't quite fill its running time. There's a solid 40 minute album in here padded out just a little too long.
 LuxAde by MASCHERA DI CERA, LA album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.00 | 160 ratings

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LuxAde
La Maschera Di Cera Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars La Maschera di Cera may be only one of many projects by Finisterre bassist Fabio Zuffanti, but it should be the first port of call for anyone seeking to find new music in the classic Italian prog style of the 1970s. Zuffanti and his colleagues assemble a grand collection of vintage gear (just look at Agostino Macor's range of keyboards, synths, and other electronic toys - there's even a theremin!) and put out an album which, if they'd told me it had been left in a vault for 30 years, I could easily be fooled.

Which isn't to say that this is a pure nostalgia trip, mind - LuxAde interweaves dark majesty approached only, perhaps, by the most thunderous moments of Banco del Mutuo Soccorso with strands of great beauty in a mixture which is the band's own. Very much worth it for all Rock Progressivo Italiano fans.

 Il Grande Labirinto by MASCHERA DI CERA, LA album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.08 | 162 ratings

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Il Grande Labirinto
La Maschera Di Cera Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Coming one year after their excellent debut, Fabio Zuffaniti's side project produces another fine and true contribution to the RPI collection. The maestro has done quite a marvellous job of collecting the perfect cast with which to create his retro-sound.

1. "Il Viaggio Nell' Oceano Capovolto (parte 1)" (13:45) opens with reversed tracks before giving way to spacious bass & guitar harmonics. Singer and then organ join in, then Mellotron and piano. At 2:25 we finally get the full wall of sound, but then it is quickly extinguished to revert back to the soft, spacious stuff. The two extremes alternate back and forth for a while until we get a switch into a more pastoral, yet crazed section in the fifth minute. The tension builds and builds until there is a release at 5:45. A pretty though eerie section begins with male and female singer singing together until full band enters and Alessandro takes full lead. Nice power section. for the next four and a half minutes before a jazzy-psychedelic 'tron and weird jazzy guitar section takes over to almost the end. Interesting. (25.5/30)

2. "Il Grande Labirinto" (9:43) classy and classic but nothing really new here, more of a rehashing of old music from the 1970s--though done very well. (17.75/20)

3. "Il Canto Dell'inverno" (3:00) piano. Goblin-esque! (9/10)

4. "Ai Confini Del Mondo" (12:41) with the funk! Again, the 1970s are conjured up by the clavichord and Hammond, chunky bass and flute. I must admit that keyboardist Agostino Macor is quite talented. So is vocalist, Alessandro Corvaglia. The instrumental section beginning at the halfway point is my favorite--the whole second half is so much more to my liking. I totally respect the amazing job Fabio and crew have done to re-create the sounds and styles of the RPI masterpieces of the 1970s. Unfortunately, this style of 70s RPI was never my favorite. (21.75/25)

5. "Il Viaggio Nell' Oceano Capovolto (parte 2)" (22:35) This vocalist does SUCH an amazing job at bringing the power and theatricity of the legends of the Italian 70s! (42.5/45)

While I agree with my fellow reviewer MellotronStorm that "every song on this album is of the highest calibure [sp]", I must put my hand up at the lack of originality: all of these songs and styles--even the instruments and voices--are (I take it) intended to re-create specific sounds, songs, and styles of the Italian scene of progressive rock of the 1970s.

B+/4.5 stars; though a true masterpiece of retro-prog/prog homage with some of the best instrumental performances you'll ever hear, this is only not a masterpiece of original, modern progressive rock.

 Petali Di Fuoco by MASCHERA DI CERA, LA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.58 | 110 ratings

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Petali Di Fuoco
La Maschera Di Cera Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars "La Maschera Di Cera" is probably one of my most beloved Italian bands. But most overall, one of my preferred band all styles. I could witness one of their gigs at the "Spirit of 66" (the only prog rock scene in Belgium) during a prog conference in 2005. That was a great day since "Knight Area" and "Riverside" were completing the bill.

Each of their previous albums was an enchantment and this one is no deception. But as you might have read: I am biased and pleased to tell so.

All the melody of the great RPI genre is here. The charming vocals from Alessandro, the sweet fluting from Andrea, the skilled drumming from Maurizio and not to forget the fantastic job on the keys from Agostino: they are all very much present.

The passion of the vocals is still the same than before and the whole band is in full symbiosis. Let's not forget that the man behind this project (and many, many others) is no less than Fabio Zuffanti. If you are orphan of the great seventies (being Italian or overall symphonic), this album is an excellent starting point (but each of the Maschera one will do the job, believe me).

There are some jazzy influences (like in each of their work), but scarcely developed ("Discesa"). Most of the music played is pure harmony, melody and full of talent. My fave is "L'Inganno", which is full of tact and features convincing vocals again. And what to say about the great flute play? A pure jewel indeed.

In terms of genuine beauty, I can only recommend you to listen to the superb "Phoenix" which is such a delicate piece of symphonic prog. Vocals are so passionate! Piano and flutes are so wonderful. It is another highlight for sure.

The only reproach is probably that the band doesn't offer any epic like before. An evolution of time maybe? Anyway, this is a very good album again; with no weak songs at all. The closing number also allows Matteo on the guitar to display all his skills. The finale is absolutely wonderful.

Four stars.

 La Maschera Di Cera by MASCHERA DI CERA, LA album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.98 | 153 ratings

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La Maschera Di Cera
La Maschera Di Cera Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A side project of Fabio Zuffanti, in my opinion, La Maschera di Cera has produced the best music Zuffanti has made. The songs are lushly created with lots of classically-influenced forms and structures using the sounds and instruments the electronic age has given us. Keyboard artist Agostino Macor is a true master of his trade, incorporating piano, Mellotron, organ, Moog, harpsicord, VCS 3, and "prepared piano" like a junior Wakeman or Banks. Vocalists Alessandro Corvaglia and Nadia Girardi do a wonderful job while not being mixed too far forward so as to dominate the music. Most of the time there is so much going on, so many layers in the songs' tapestries, that repeated listens reveal many, many nuances that are difficult to pick up upon first or cursory listens. This is good: the weaves are all beautifully orchestrated; I am never put off or overwhelmed by them. If there are weaknesses to the album they are 1) in the odd mix of individually-recorded sounds (a problem I find common with other Zuffanti projects) and 2) in the bass play: it's either cheezie pseudo-jazzy or over-the-top loud, distorted, and chunky.

1. "La maschera di Cera" (19:21) is a six-part suite introducing the band and its old-instrument symphonic approach to prog. Italian, retro/neo, but really classic RPI. At 1:30 a gentle piano and acoustic guitar section supports Alessandro's gentle, passionate vocal. At the four minute mark a chunky bass and organ-led upbeat psychedelic section ensues (kind of like a STEPPENWOLF/ BLOOD, SWEAT & Tears sound) over which synthesizer and flute trade solos. Alessandro and piano get into the mix in the seventh minute. At 7:12 we fall into a little musical 'waiting room' in which the world seems at a standstill. At 8:16 strummed guitar and organ lead us back into a forward direction. Synthesizer and piano mirror their pretty playing while Alessandro begins a new section, new theme of his story. Flutes and synth posit some nice soli in this section. Then, at the 12 minute mark, things slow and soften again before Alessandro's big voice leads us into a heavier, more dynamic section--which becomes taken over by the repetition of a plodding distorted bass riff. Then at 13:54 another STEPPENWOLF kind of section with organ and flute screaming away takes us away. The shifts toward softer, gentler melody at the end is predictable and a little anti-climactic. The song is good, polished and straightforward, but nothing very extraordinary. (32/40)

2. "Del mio mondo che crolla" (6:00) opens with some very ehavy, distorted bass and clear, precise drumming before flutes and keys join in. The first keyboard soli are from "older" keyboard sounds (Casiotone?). The instrumentalists each sound like they are in their own recording studio, in their own worlds. Finally at the two minute mark things gel before a pause after which Alessio and Hammond organ take over. The slight shift back at 4:40 brings the music into solo-support mode--in which several brief soli take their turns. If I have one serious complaint with this song it's with the way the drums were recorded and mixed so that they feel totally 'isolated' from the rest of the song. They feel compressed or digitized while the rest feel 70s analog. Weird. Otherwise it's a cool little song. (9/10)

3. "Del mio abisso e del vuoto" (9:41) opens with some flute being supported by some drums and cheezy bass playing. Piano and guitar join in to continue the soft jazzy flow. Once Alessandro's voice joins in it is melodic but a little too gritty-scratchy-gravelly to add beauty to this beautiful music. Nadia Girardi's layers of floating, soaring wordless vocals in the seventh minute are an awesome touch. Kind of a cross between Clare Torey's "Great Gig in the Sky" and Irene Pappas' contributions to APHRODITE'S CHILD's 666. The final two minutes have some great Mellotron, flute, bass and vocal cohesion--maybe the best on the album--before chaos and cacophony become the ending of choice. Cool song. (18/20)

4. "Del mio volo" (7:07) opens as a gentle ballad with flute playing counterpoint to Alessandro's vocal. In the second minute a synth gets a chance to solo before the second verse takes over. The Mellotron play really hits some great chords at the beginning of the fourth minute and proceeds to play nicely beneath the ensuing longer synth solo. At 4:15 all instruments save for a gently picked acoustic guitar drop out while Alessandro slowly sings an emotional passage. Then an organ-led full band passage jumps into the fore, playing out a Dylan-esque dirge to the end. Nice song. (13.5/15)

The music and instrumentation are actually rather simple but effective--no wasted notes or noises and plenty of great melodies and chord progressions.

B/four stars; an excellent contribution to the world of progressive rock music.

 Le Porte Del Domani by MASCHERA DI CERA, LA album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 306 ratings

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Le Porte Del Domani
La Maschera Di Cera Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by MELNIBONÉ

5 stars

Prequels and sequels are common features in movies and novels, particularly within the science-fiction, fantasy and action genres (often subtitled "epic" trilogies, sagas or series). But even though science-fiction and fantasy share a lot with Prog, prequel or sequel albums are almost the exception rather than the rule. Usually, when Prog bands have a lot of material to offer (because the concept underlining and/or structuring their work was quite inspiring and thus thoroughly exploited), they'll release a double album (Yes' "Tales From Topographic Oceans", Genesis' "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway", Pink Floyd's "The Wall", Harmonium's "L'Heptade" or Crippled Black Phoenix's "[Mankind] The Crafty Ape", among others), or the even rarer triple album, such as XII Alfonso's "Darwin". Once in a while, some bands will split the body of work between two different albums : e.g. ELP's "Works Vol. 1" and "Vol. 2", Big Big Train's "English Electric (Part One)" and "(Part Two)", Steve Hackett's "Watcher Of The Skies ? Genesis Revisited" and "Genesis Revisited II".

That said, with "Le Porte Del Domani", La Maschera Di Cera has done something quite different from the examples above. Their album isn't simply a sequel, but one to an album from another band, and an iconic RPI band at that. Within the usual parameters of the Prog realm, it may seem "a bold idea", "a huge risk" and "a bold attempt" as some previous reviewers have written, but it's not so uncommon in other musical genres. Many classical composers (Beethoven, Brahms, Britten, Chopin, Rachmaninov, etc.) wrote series of "Variations on a Theme by?" other composers, which were either their predecessors or their contemporaries.

In view of that, I would venture to say that, in "Le Porte Del Domani", Fabio Zuffanti was not bold or risky, but rather conservative in his approach. After all, we should bear in mind that, under the guise of Hostsonaten (another side-project of said Zuffanti), he had previously released his own brilliant version and/or reinterpretation (in no less than four separate albums) of Antonio Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons", an iconic masterpiece of Italian baroque music that is known worldwide. This time around, Zuffanti is less ambitious, if only because, even though "Felona E Sorona" is an inescapable Prog masterpiece, Prog isn't such a big thing compared to classical music (especially in Italy). Less ambitious, but surely not less talented : Zuffanti has succeeded to compose and deliver a masterpiece sequel to an iconic masterpiece. Not a common feat by any standards !

From the outset, I have to point out that, in both cases, my review is based upon the original version of each album? and not at all because my knowledge of Italian would enable me to understand what they're singing about (in fact, I really rank below kindergarden level in that respect). It's simply because the Italian language has always been music to my ears and, thus, I can listen to the singer's voice purely as an instrument, without being distracted by (or wanting to access) the meaning of the words.

Other than one being the sequel to the other, there are some interesting similarities between Le Orme's 1973 album and La Maschera Di Cera's 2013 release. Even though 40 years have elapsed between them, their cover art is both from paintings by Lanfranco, the only differences being dominant red vs dominant blue and the couple looking younger in 2013 than it seemingly was in 1973 (a visual twist that is not without charming irony) . Both albums feature nine tracks ; they were numbered from 1 to 9 on "Felona E Sorona", whereas they're "lettered" from a to i on "Le Porte Del Domani". "Sospesi Nell'Incredibile", the first track on "Felona E Sorona", lasts 8:43, while "Ritorno Dal Nulla", which is the first track on "Le Porte Del Domani", clocks at 8:40. And that same track bridges the time gap between the two albums, as its title answers to that of "Ritorno Al Nulla", the last track on "Felona E Sorona". This last track on "Felona E Sorona" is also the only true instrumental on the album, but the number 7, "Ritratto Di Un Matino", might also be considered an instrumental piece, as its lyrics consists of a single sentence. On "Le Porte Del Domani", there is also only one true instrumental piece : it's the title-track, and it's the last one on the album. Also, echoing Le Orme's album, there are two songs that we can almost label instrumentals, as song f, "Viaggio Metafisico", and song g, "Alba Nel Tempio", both feature only nine verses each. Finally, while the total length of each release is different (Le Orme's clocks at 33:39 against La Maschera's 45:14), both fit in the usual short time slot of RPI albums.

The main differences stand in the line-up of each band. Le Orme are a trio and they've always favored an economy of means : keyboards (Pagliuca), vocals, bass and guitar (Tagliapietra), drums and percussion (Dei Rossi). La Maschera Di Cera is somewhat the opposite, lining up five members with a sizeable amount of instruments between them : acoustic guitar and electric 12-strings (Corvaglia, who is also the singer), drums and a whole array of percussion (Di Tollo), piano, Fender Rhodes, Hammond, Mellotron, Birotron and Chamberlin, to name but a few of the keyboards displayed (Macor), flute (Monetti), bass and bell (Zuffanti) ; and their two guest musicians play flute and sax (Grice), and electric guitar (Marsano).

I've pointed out these similarities and differences to give an idea of the study of Le Orme's masterpiece Zuffanti must have gone through to compose his sequel. "Le Porte Del Domani" is not simply the work of someone who admires an iconic album of the early '70s and tries to emulate it. It's much more than that : it's a work of passion and respect, and a testimony to the discipline, restraint and finesse of Zuffanti as a composer. Here and there, he uses motifs and melodies from the original work (just like classical composers did in their time), but to build upon them, to go further, to loop the loop, to knot the strands left untied by Le Orme in 1973. Zuffanti didn't try to better his model, but rather to reach the same level of excellence. "Le Porte Del Domani" is an opus of love.

Usually, for an album to be bestowed a masterpiece, it has to stand to test of time. But then, there are exceptions. As another reviewer suggested, treat yourself to listening to the albums back to back and you'll hear, and feel, and understand that "Felona E Sorona" called for a sequel and that "Le Porte Del Domani" couldn't have been different than what it is. A masterpiece following another masterpiece. Music for and from the heart couldn't be any better.

5 stellar conclusions

PS As mentioned above according to the liner notes, Agostino Macor plays the Birotron on "Le Porte Del Domani". For those unaware of what a Birotron is, it's an analog instrument developed to improve on the Chamberlin and the Mellotron, built by a company funded by Rick Wakeman in the late '70s. Only a few dozens at most were manufactured and it is believed that less than half a dozen would still be operational as of this writing. Wakeman used it on Yes' "Tormato" and "Yesshows", and on his own solo album, "Criminal Record". So, if ever you need another good reason to buy and cherish "Le Porte Del Domani", this is it, as the Birotron is arguably the "world's rarest musical instrument" around.

 Le Porte Del Domani by MASCHERA DI CERA, LA album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 306 ratings

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Le Porte Del Domani
La Maschera Di Cera Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars LA MASCERA DI CERA were one of the first modern RPI bands I got into and I was so impressed that i've gotten every studio album they have released. I did feel that their last album "Petali Di Fuoco" was not up to their usual high quality but man are they back in a big way with "Le Porte Del Domani". Now I do have to address their bold and ridiculous idea of making a part II of LE ORME's classic "Felona E Sorona". What!? Man I remember when I heard this I was stunned yet at the same time impressed at this idea. Who would have the stones to even consider such a thing? It just blew me away when I considered that other modern bands could also do sequels to seventies classics. It almost seems wrong to even consider this idea yet LA MASCERA DI CERA have done this process justice including the album cover art. I should mention that all of these tracks blend into one another.

"Ritorno Dal Nulla" opens in a spacey manner as bass, keys, drums and more join in as it builds. Great sound after a minute as that spacey atmosphere has eventually given way to some LE ORME- like instrumental work-outs. It's just gorgeous before 3 1/2 minutes with flute, mellotron and a lot of depth. It then picks up speed before turning heavier. Amazing flute melodies follow then a calm arrives before the vocals kick in around 5 minutes in. The mellotron sweeps through 6 1/2 minutes in and emotion follows as the vocals turn more passionate. Some nice guitar before 8 minutes to the end. "La Guerra Dei Mille Anni" is very Italian sounding with a jig-like rhythm to it. The laid back sections are contrasted with these and they make me feel so good. My God, the mellotron and passionate vocals 4 minutes in are so moving.

"Ritratto Di Lui" is slower paced with vocals and lots of atmosphere including flute. The vocals become more expressive with strings before it calms down again. "L'enorme Abisso" has a powerful intro of mellotron, keys and drums as the vocals kick in. The guitar a minute in starts to light it up as the keys swirl. Organ 2 1/2 minutes in then we get a strong VDGG vibe before uptempo flute and drums lead the way. I really dig the dissonant sax 2 1/2 minutes in as that VDGG vibe continues, then the mellotron storms the gate. It's so emotional 5 minutes in when the vocals return.

"Ritratto Di Lei" has plenty of atmosphere with female vocal melodies before the reserved male vocals take over. "Viaggio Metafisico" hits the ground running as the mellotron joins in then flute. How good is this just before a minute. Vocals arrive before 3 minutes. "Alba Nel Tempio" has a spacey atmosphere to start as some beautiful flute joins in then laid back vocals. Emotional vocals lead before 3 minutes as the guitar starts to soar then the mellotron joins in. "Luce Sui Dul Mondi" opens with strummed guitar as flute and drums join the party. Vocals a minute in followed by bass as the sound gets fuller. Emotion 2 1/2 minutes in as it all turns more passionate including the vocals as the mellotron floods the soundscape. "Alle Porte Del Domani" opens with fuzzed out guitar expressions before it kicks into a higher gear led by flute and drums. The flute steps aside as the drums continue with different sounds helping out. This sounds so good. The flute is back then the mellotron as the song and album ends.

I'm not about to acknowledge that this is my favourite album from this band but it's pretty darn close to what I had considered as their best in "Il Grande Labirinto". This is one of the best releases from 2013 without a doubt, and they must have made LE ORME proud.

 Le Porte Del Domani by MASCHERA DI CERA, LA album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 306 ratings

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Le Porte Del Domani
La Maschera Di Cera Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Thierry

4 stars Ask me which were the best prog Italian bands of the seventies, I will say PFM, Banco and Le Orme instantly. But what about today's? Well, certainly La Maschera di Cera. Of course, the connoisseurs will tell me, no wonder since it's one of the talented and prolific Fabio Zuffanti's projects together with Finisterre! But this doesn't explain everything. You have to see them live to understand it's a real band. I could do it at the famous Prog Sud festival and it was pure bliss! Well, they walked through a new step with this new opus. A double one in fact, since, in the great seventies tradition, this album is available in Italian of course but in English too, as their famous predecessors did. No wonder (bis) if the Italian version is as always the best but this may open countries where prog heads don't understand Dante's language. But I forgot to say what this work is all about. Many bands tend to re-record yesterday's gems: think of Pretty Thing's "SF Sorrow" or Banco's "Darwin" (both jewels). Here the purpose (and what a purpose!) if imagining the following chapters to "Felona e Sorona", yes Le Orme's masterpiece released in 1973 (and available in English too by the way)! And it's a success. The atmosphere of that milestone is here while this new disc is not a photocopy. For instance the very first and last tracks clearly echo "Felona e Sorona" but even go beyond. This has been my summer's favourite record, the disc you can't stop listening to as we used to do in the seventies. No more fast hearing looking for the usual recipes. No, just the feeling listening to a Magnum opus.
 Le Porte Del Domani by MASCHERA DI CERA, LA album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 306 ratings

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Le Porte Del Domani
La Maschera Di Cera Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

5 stars The perfect complement for Felona e Sorona

When I saw the cover of Le Porte del Domani, thought immediately in Felona e Sorona first I believed it was a coincidence or the product of a non-versatile artist, but when I read the tracks, It was obvious we were before a sequel of LE ORME'S masterpiece and believed this guys were taking a huge risk, either they climbed to the level of RPI icons, or ruined their career, because destroying the legacy of a beloved masterpiece is something nobody would forgive.

The first achievement of LA MASCHERA DI CERA was the approach, because even when the album has common places and even short reminiscences of Felona e Sorona, the atmosphere is completely different, they sacrifice some mystery and obscurity for a more fluid and folksy sound with keyboard performances that make want to jump and clap. It's important to mention that the voice of Alessandro Corvaglia is absolutely reminiscent of Aldo Tagliapietra's, so the listener immediately connects both albums with no problem.

The story of Felona e Sorona is about two twin planets located at the two sides of "Colui Che Promette il Mondo" (He who Promises the World), a god who's existence both planet inhabitants ignore, so when the divinity looked towards a planet took the light towards it and became a paradise, while the other fell into darkness turning it into hell, and the album ends when the divinity is looking towards the middle of both planets so both were in balance.

LA MASCHERA DI CERA retakes the plot in the moment when the divinity (Who once looked towards Felona) starts turning towards Sorona and this world becomes a paradise while the once wonderful Felona starts the decline towards obscurity, so the inhabitants of planet in decline attack the other to retake the light,

But being that the forces are equivalent (Sorona obtains a new power due to the light while Felona keeps the knowledge of the golden years), the battle lasts 1,000 years. The divinity notices that he can do nothing to maintain the balance and enters into a crisis of solitude that could be the end of both planets. In the meanwhile, a soldier of Felona falls in love with a woman of Sorona who discovers the existence of this divinity, so they make a mental travel to the Afterworld Dimension where "He who Promises the World" looks this union between two opposites with pleasure and his loneliness turns into a light of happiness that takes Felona and Sorona towards a new era of mutual brilliance.

As we can see, the story is simpler than the original but still is effective and interesting, and the music?

Well, that's another story, because both albums are almost in the same level, so let's go to the music:

The album istarts with Ritorno Dal Nulla (Return from the Balance), which starts with a breathtaking intro where the band hits us with the heavy artillery from the mysterious intro plethoric of guitar and magnificent keyboards, which lead to the well known tune from the opener of Felona e Sorona (Sospesi Nell'Incredibile), and after that, anything can be expected. Despite the reviews I read, the drumming is outstanding and Agostino Macor attacks the listener with a of Moog, Mellotron, Birotron, Hammond plus every instrument with keys he has. Of concerto course the cherry on the top of the cake is placed by Andrea Monetti and the subtle flute. More than eight minutes of first class Italian Symphonic.

La Guerra Dei Mille Anni (The Thousand Years War) Starts with a martial drum based intro but after that is marked by the excellent vocals in Italian by Alessandro Corvaglia (Please Italians, your language is marvelous, forget the English), brilliantly enhanced by the flute and acoustic guitars, this time with a folksy atmosphere that falls on us as a breeze of fresh air.

Ritratto Di Lui (Portrait of Him): From the beginning the band imprints a mystical atmosphere enhanced by the vocals and flute, but being that is the story of the Felona soldier that falls in love with a Sorona woman, there's a romantic feeling that only Italians can create without falling in cheesiness...........Beautiful song.

L'enorme Abisso (The Enormous Abyss): One of the highlights of the album, because the dissonant and almost chaotic interplay between organ, Mellotron, percussion and saxophone describe perfectly the desperation of the divinity when he notices that no matter what he does, he can't project the light to both planets. Very complex and elaborate track, the dream of a proghead.

Ritratto di Lei (Portrait of Her) is another melodic song with an incredibly beautiful piano performance, where the woman of Sorona discovers the existence of "Colui che promette il Mondo" and proposes her lover a mental travel to meet god.

Viaggio Metafisico (Metaphysical Journey) is probably the best track of the album, the guys of LA MASCHERA DI CERA don´t keep anything for the end, and make a display of virtuosity in all the instruments, almost like a blend between BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO, KING CRIMSON and LE ORME. Frantic and breathtaking from start to end, radical changes, and outstanding performances, we can't ask for more.

Alba Nel Tempio (Dawn in the Temple) describes the moment when the lovers reach te palace of the god, and due to the depression of "He who Promises the World" find it decadent with reminiscences of a past glory, and the music represents this perfectly, with echoes of the most brilliant passages of the album, played with a sense of nostalgia that's evident for the listener.

Luce Sui Due Mondi (Light for the two Worlds) is the climax of the concept, because the divinity notices that the two planets complement themselves and in that moment emits a light so strong that turns both worlds into a paradise simultaneously. Paradoxically, this may be the weakest track of the album, being that the softness fails to represent that magical moment, but still is good.

When I believed that the band had given their best comes the closer Alle Porte del Domani (At the Gates of Tomorrow) which really takes the album to a new level of splendor, really the grand finale that will satisfy the most exigent listeners.

Well for what I wrote, the 5 stars rating falls by its own weight, but I must add that we are before a new classic masterpiece that deserves to be listener as the conclusion of the iconic Felona e Sorona, without suffering when compared.

 The Gates Of Tomorrow by MASCHERA DI CERA, LA album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.79 | 92 ratings

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The Gates Of Tomorrow
La Maschera Di Cera Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by emperorken

5 stars First of all, I would like to thank Fabio Zuffanti, not only for putting out a great album like this, but for releasing it in English as well as Italian. I know I'm in the vast minority regarding RPI, but I much prefer English vocals to the Italian. I love the symphonic sounds of many RPI bands, but am often completely turned off by the over-emotive, theatrical vocals(not the actual language, though). The singer here is the great Allesandro Corvaglia, who sings beautifully in English, as he did on last year's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Hostsonaten, another Zuffanti project.

As for the music, it is fantastic. The compositions, arrangements, and musicianship are all first class. And liberal use of the mellotron choir only enhances the experience. All in all one of my top 5 albums for 2013.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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