|2009||Mellow Records||MMP 509|
By their second album this Italian band has broadened (widely to say the least) their scope and especially improved (also widely) on their delivery. Rebus is not a first listen impacting release, but like good old progressive (or prog related) albums, it surely grows on you after repeated listens. It has its small sins, yet largely surpassed by its many great moments, resulting in a swell listening experience of an album.
Barock Project is
increasingly placing themselves as one of the finest outfits of contemporary
Italian Progressive Rock. It is noticeable that there is a deep fascination for
the classics, but there is also the will to innovate and mix things in a
refreshing and many times completely new way and/or approach. In many ways it
reminds me of another great recent Italian band - Baroque,
especially on the attitude and healthy aggressiveness.
Therefore the many references that can be
done to legendary bands from Italy but also from other prolific countries
(especially from the Anglo-Saxon ones), while at the same time those
reminiscences are inbreeded inside a very strong own signature; One that
absorbs the influences within the bands structural compositions in a way that
makes them natural and autochthony to the presented tracks. This is one of the
purest and more subtle ways in which this band presents their brilliant
concept: All sounds entwined in a way that the (sometimes) evident references
feel completely encrusted in the band’s own musicality.
The sonic voyage that is proposed here
takes many turns and shifts, as there is enough experimentation on different
approaches. The second big win seems, therefore, the ability that the band has
to successfully display different faces for the same coin, framing in a
competent and even arousing way, a gamut of different architectures, majorly
vivid, lively and dynamic, played with power in an optimistic tone. But let me
be more specific on what I am talking about, by giving you some in-depth
thoughts on most tracks :
(probably the most brilliantly achieved track in this album) takes the listener
to classical fields by introducing Mozart meets Tchaikovsky inspired musicality,
played Little Tragedies style, perfectly combined with
Queen vocals, guitars and vocal-games circa A Night
at the Opera. It simply rocks and amazes the listener and works as
the pinnacle of this album, in my opinion.
Soul starts in a very Eastern European folksy way until it
surprisingly turns into something that is somehow drawing tangents to more
hard-prog venues, with a guitar riffage that may remind you
of Deep Purple and a flute that is typically reminiscent of
Jethro Tull, then the naïf classically/folksy keyboards make
an entrance to abstract and deviate the listeners attention into something
else, uncharted, enchanting. It is one of those tracks that clearly state the
band as motivated, competent and completely refreshing.
the band to more mellow paths, as a symphonic ballad so much characteristic of
Italian sympho-school. In its 10+ minutes there is also time to present
Latimer inspired guitar soloing and baroque stylized tabs
that are quickly hidden behind the vocalized parts.
Stelle presents a more neo-progged band, on a more accessible note,
like a progressively tingled Italian pop song; orchestrated and enriched, but
with a noticeable pop oriented vocal melody.
But it is Duellum
that makes me really start believing that Barock Project can
easily turn into the Italian Little Tragedies (just notice
that Little Tragedies is one of my fav contemporary sympho bands). The quirky
and fast playing, as much classically inspired as 70’s symphonic reminiscent,
this is a fast paced track that will totally blow away the prog symphonic lover,
especially in the keyboard driven instrumental part.
My Enemy is
perhaps the heavier and more rockier track in the album, showing a new face to
the band, but one that, be fair, is not as challenging and satisfying as the
one shown in the rest of the album. The semi-hard arena rock may not be the
best path for this band to follow, as easily proved here.
great bass lines and slightly middle-eastern guitar and keyboard soloing tunes,
placed inside a typical Italian prog structure. Yet another proof of this bands
widened approach and unbounded/free thinking musicality.
- Nostradamus is a piano/guitar/(great) percussion driven music that ends the album (or almost ends, as there is a hidden cookie ballad after some silence) in a positive and complex tone, resuming the brilliance that the band has presented throughout the album and that has placed the band in a new level.
Taking into consideration that this bands
debut has not impressed me at all, their sophomore is a giant leap ahead, and
comes to show that Barock project has found their macadam
road. Now it is only proper recognition and success within the progressive
community that is laking, something that is clearly unfair as they deserve full
For long time fans of Italian progressive
school and especially for those who have been enjoying the latest developments
and evolution of that particular style, this Rebus comes as