Melodic Revolution Records (MRR) is thrilled to sign Overture one of the most awe-inspiring progressive rock bands to come out of Italy in recent years, Overture has just released a self-titled album that will be available through MRR. According to the band the album is inspired by the progressive masterpieces of the 70’s. On the bands Facebook page it states; that Overture is influenced by such artist as P.F.M, Jethro Tull, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Area, Camel, Pink Floyd, Steve Wilson, Porcupine Tree. Fans will find that Overture has their own unique & distinctive sound but will fit in nicely with some of the best prog bands that have come before them.
About The Band
Overture was born from the ashes of the Sons of the Rascals in January 2010. The founding members are Simone Desogus on drums, Samuele Desogus on guitar, Mattia Serraon keyboards and vocals, Salvatore Sassu flute and guitar, and Stefano Sanna on bass.
Due to the different musical tastes of the singles, is the Progressive Rock the genre able to satisfy and characterize the group’s works. Then begin the work to give life to original pieces.
Immediately there is a new formation with Fiorella Piras on flute, Salvatore Turtas on keyboards and Andrea Poddighe on vocals, and the name “Overture” is definitely adopted.
In the winter of 2015, Salvatore decides to leave the group, replaced by a new keyboard player (Simone Meli) who immediately shows great passion for the genre and great professionalism.
Even Andrea decides to leave the project and in May 2015, he is replaced in the role of singer, by Luigi Ventroni.
The music of Overture is inspired by the masterpieces of 70s prog, but also incorporates influences of neo-prog and many other genres, due to the varied and heterogeneous background of the musicians involved.
With great honor and pleasure, Overture announce that we are now part of the Melodic Revolution Records family, the American label specializes in Progressive Rock!
MRR is led by Nick Katona, which with great passion follows and supports most of the interesting bands all around the World.
Our self – titled Album will soon be available in the catalog of this label, in both digital and physicals stores.
You can find out more on this link: http://www.melodicrevolutionrecords.com
Overture Line-up Luigi Ventroni – Lead Voice
Simone Desogus – Drums, Percussion, Back Vocals
Simone Meli – Keyboards, Back Vocals
Samuele Desogus – Classical Guitar, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
Stefano Sanna – Bass, Fretless, Synth Bass, Contrabass
Fiorella Piras – Flute, Back Vocals
Melodic Revolution Records Feature Album March 2018 | Marco Ragni | The Wandering Caravan
Label – Melodic Revolution Records Release Year – 2018 Country – Italy/International Genre – Progressive/Psychedelic Rock
Band Members Marco Ragni – Vocals/Electric and Acoustic Guitars/Bass/Keyboards/Mellotron/Piano/Mandolin Dave Newhouse – Sax/Clarinet/Flute/Keyboards and Woodwinds Arrangements Jeff Mack – Bass Peter Matchuniak – Lead Guitar Maurizio Antonini – Drums
Special Guests Luca Zambini – Hammond Organ Ian Beabout – Flute Nadav Yitzhak – Oud Michael Zentenar – Violin
Track Listing What We Have Done In The Past We’ll Be In The Future Waiting On The Threshold Promised Land Which Is The Right Path To Take ? It’s Only Fantasy What Are We Willing To Lose To Regain Our Freedom ? Keep Dreaming Back Home Again
Sometime in early to mid spring of 2015 I came into a discovery of Melodic Revolution Records. Its founder Nick Katona had friend requested me over on Facebook and soon the discovery unfolded much like the opening of Pandora’s Box for me. The talent on this label is on par with any other label on the planet today. As far as progressive rock, psychedelic rock, etc … Melodic Revolution Records is both untapped as far as its deep roster of talent and a label on the verge of just one release breaking right to become a household name within the progressive, psychedelic rock community. I feel that the subject of this review Marco Ragni will have a lot of say into the future of Melodic Revolution Records as a collective.
Marco Ragni is no stranger to the Power Of Prog community either. Back in 2016 I presented two very different reviews of this Italian Progressive Genius. The first was the very personal introspective double concept album Mother From The Sunand the very intelligent and thought provoking Land Of Blue Echoes. Now in 2018 I return to review the appropriately titled, Marco Ragni’s The Wandering Caravan. This current offering sees Marco Ragni return with some familiar faces and label mates such as Jeff Mack – Bass – (Scarlet Hollow), Peter Matuchniak – Guitar – (Gekko Project, The Steppes Tribute To Early Steve Hackett and Bomber Goggles).
Then there are some newer musicians to the Marco Ragni franchise. Making their debut’s to the franchise on The Wandering Caravan are Italian drummer Maurizio Antonini, Luca Zabbini – Hammond Organ– (Barock Project), Ian Beabout – Flute, Nadav Yitzhak – Oud, Michael Zentiner – Violin – (Zenlandband). Marco Ragni has a uncanny ability to assemble world class musicians on his projects and The Wandering Caravan is certainly no exception. The returning talent is also a testament that Melodic Revolution Records has a very heavy family like atmosphere where its musicians really want to work with one another.
With The Wandering Caravan, Marco Ragni brings a little of his last four releases with him. There are some of the vast atmospheric structures from Mother From The Sun, the technical, yet futuristic and forward thinking progressive rock from Land Of Blue Echoes, there are the more precise to the point radio hits much in the vein of Californiawith songs like It’s Only Fantasy, Back Home Again,Which Is The Right Path To Take and Promised Land, with some of the more experimental psychedelic elements of Rajanty especially with tracks such as What We Have Done In The Past We’ll Be In The Future and Waiting On The Threshold. The Wandering Caravan is basically a progressive rock symphony in 8 movements. Each movement that I will now proceed to elaborate on.
What We Have Done In The Past We’ll Be In The Future begins with a little Latin flair with the acoustic guitar style of Marco Ragni himself. It soon fortifies into a well structured atmospheric track off the flamenco acoustic chord progressions. The acoustical chord progressions allow for the heavier more straight forward lead guitar sections which are done by one of the world’s most criminally under rated guitarists Mr. Peter Matchuniak, (Gekko Project, The Steppes : A Tribute To Early Steve Hackett). Peter Matchuniak is a beautiful well balanced blend of David Gilmour meets Steve Hackett with a sprinkle of ‘The Canterbury Sound’ of Pye Hastings of Caravan.
A cacophony of various woodwind instruments along with a Hammond Organ make for a blast of sheer progressive bliss. They carry elements or progressive rock’s past with modern more contemporary elements for a current listening audience. This is also a a testament of true growth as a songwriter and musician that accompanies further maturity. With the flutes there is a heavy Jethro Tull style within this track. Whether it is deliberate or by influence it is done with the utmost taste and class. This is all enhanced by lyrical content that allows the listener to take the song in so many directions within the screen of the theater of the mind.
Waiting On The Threshold opens up with a fine woven tapestry of various piano, wind and keyboard passages. Marco’s very distinct vocal comes in with semi isolation off the instrumental portion. The relationship between the vocal and instrumental allows for both sides the ability to breathe without one suffocating the other. There is also a beautiful dynamic of lead guitar and acoustic guitar’s in a gentle, warm inviting melody. The underlying flute makes for a very interesting world music element that will have a instant international flavour to the composition. This one is also full of some longer instrumental passages.
This track also contains some heavily induced folk elements. Marco Ragni has some strong elements of Pink Floyd and Cat Steven’s vocal elements blended with the great expanse of the instrumental working perfectly in union with one another. The song closes out with some beautifully arranged jazz elements which are articulated by the saxophone. Some of the closing jazz portions remind me a lot of Weather Report meets Camel with a little twist of Caravan.
Promised Land opens up with a very strong psychedelic folk passage. This is created with the well blended elements of acoustic and semi acoustic guitar’s mixed with elegant flutes to accompany them. Soon the vocal harmonies and more up tempo chord progressions enter in along with the powerful rhythm section. This is the first track on the album that really has a distinct and definite rhythm section compared to the previous two songs. The rhythm section has more atmospheric than heavy laden time signatures. It also transitions smooth and seamlessly into the following track Which Is The Right Path To Take? The seamless transition has some serious overall 1960’s style psychedelic vocal harmony’s and song melodies.
Which Is The Right Path To Take? picks up smoothly where Promised Land left off. It does so with heavy and profound psychedelic elements. The vocal harmonies are very woven off various layers where one vocal track is blended in from another vocal harmony. This layering continues to the point where there are three to four vocals playing off and on each other. The various vocal layers continue until there is a main lead vocal passage anchoring the track. The lead guitar has a heavy influence into the various directions of the song. These heavy stringed influenced sections are a definite staple into the identity of Marco Ragni’s music and this track validates this. Both the lead and backing vocal’s run in spot on perfect time with the open expanse of the stringed section.
It’s Only Fantasy opens up with a deep dark piano passage. The passage gives the listener the appearance that Marco is isolated in a open acoustic friendly room with just him, his heart and voice. This is very heavily laden elements of Avant Garde and RIO, (Rock In Opposition). This is done with a lead piano chord progression that meets up with various woodwind instruments along with some semi conventional keyboard passages that sound very heavy in a regressive state of mind. If you, the listener, enjoy some Avant Garde/RIOcream in your straight blacken normal progressive coffee than this is perfect to start your morning music journey. This song finishes up with more straight away traditional heavy prog chord progressions.
What Are We Willing To Lose To Regain Our Freedom? opens up with a more traditional progressive rock passage. You can hear all the hallmarks that distinguish progressive rock from other genres. There is a beautifully performed Hammond Organ along with a deep bass and drum aesthetic. The deep tones from both the rhythm section and organ synth’s along with the strong atmospheric backdrop satisfy the purists of the genre. Soon the instrumental atmosphere gives way to various effects of innocence as we here children at play. Much like Mother From The Sun, Marco Ragni has a very uncanny method at conveying innocence through his musical compositions. What Are We Willing To Lose To Regain Our Freedom? continues to validate what seems to be a signature staple in Marco Ragni’s musical legacy. Overall What AreWe Willing To Lose To Regain Our Freedom? is a very uplifting song that is both a progressive rock opus and a classic rock masterpiece.
Keep Dreaming opens up with a deep profound piano with highly lush tones and dark melodies. The added beauty in darkness is the vocal which perfectly compliments the instrumental section. The first few minutes transport the listener into a symphony hall atmosphere. Soon after a hint of the acoustic guitar is sprinkled in to add melodious flavour to the arrangement. The song goes from dark and somber to one of uplifting enlightenment. The instrumental is uplifting and the lyrical portion is in perfect harmony to the instrumental. Marco Ragni always has a intricate way of taking the listeners minds and moods from dark somber landscapes to horizons of pure enlightenment. Towards the end the track display’s heavy symphonic and progressive folk elements. Keep Dreaming is a classic textbook example to this. It is also a track with many vintage elements from the late 1960’s and 1970’s however with a modern 21st Century accent on it. Keep Dreaming seamlessly transitions into the final song of the album Back Home Again. The transition reminds me a lot of the seamless transition from Any Colour You Like to Brain Damage off Pink Floyd’s Darkside Of The Moon.
Back Home Again transitions beautifully from Keep Dreaming. The track takes a very heavy folk rock chord progression along with vocal harmonies that perfectly compliment the instrumental part. The tone that Back Home Again takes is very simple yet relaxed. This is written in such a way that allows the listener to begin to absorb and appreciate what that have just heard on the album as a collective, which is difficult to do sometimes. The violin eloquently performed by Michael Zentenar is the unsung hero on this one and helps to anchor mood of the song.
In the short few years I have known Marco Ragni through social media and his music, it has completely been bewildering and inspiring all at the same time. He definitely has the ability to transcend many sub genres that now lay under the progressive rock banner. Marco Ragni is definitely one of progressive rock’s new standard bearer’s who is carrying the flag among the contemporary progressive rock community. The Wandering Caravan is another masterpiece that will cement Marco Ragni’s legacy as such. I give Marco Ragni’s The Wandering Caravan a 5/5.
– Writers Editorial – I have been resting on this one a lot recently. I have not seen many reviews written in the English language. Maybe I am the first. If I am first I hope I am not last. This album is well worth any attention a reviewer can give to it. I just know I can not get out of 2017 without reviewing this.
For a while now I have been aware of Rockshots Records out of Italy. They seem to recruit talent in the tradition of Nuclear Blast,Century Media, AMF Records, etc .. One band on their highly talented roster that has quickly got my attention is Overkhaos. Their new album for 2017 Beware Of Truth is a well balanced buffet of dark progressive metal and melodic death metal. On the Dark Progressive Metal side they are more like Nevermore, Ghost Ship Octavius and Evergrey. On the Melodic Death Metal side they bring the best elements of Persefone, Insommnium, Soilwork and Arch Enemy. The blend of all these elements is surely to give the band a very broad fan base going forward and without outsourcing a vocalist for the death metal style vocals.
Overkhaos’ Beware Of Truth is a true venture into progressive metal with heavy themes of social commentary on globalism, war, poverty, government secrecy, etc .. A true objective listener to the album can relate and identify with it on both a instrumental level and a lyrical level. Giving the album a great veteran boost is (ex – Dream Theater) keyboardist Derek Sherinian who shows up on Anna’s Song. This album is greatly guitar driven with a twin lead & rhythm guitar attack of both Davide Giancane – Lead & Rhythm Guitar and Giuliano Zarcone – Lead & Rhythm Guitar that both sound like if you were to put Jeff Loomis of Nevermore and Emppu Vuorinen of Nightwish in a band together. This is all blended wonderfully by the powerhouse rhythm section of Anna Digiovanni – Bass and Andrea Mariani – Drums who give this album a serious set of melodic teeth. It is all rounded out by a stellar clean and death vocal attack performed so eloquently by Mimmo D’oronzo – Vocals, who has become one of my newest favorite vocalists in the world. Now I will go further into Overkhaos’ Beware Of Truth.
Prelude opens the album with a strong and very heavy instrumental. The instrumental is done in such a way as to lead the listener into the album. The band spent the better part of 3:00 minutes really introducing the world to their skill set as musicians and give the listener a very broad example of just how well they are as musicians. The band does a excellent job with a rich guitar based chord progression and various time signatures rooted into their progressive side.The atmosphere created is definitely for the ‘metal purist’. This is a very strong way to invite fans of this style of music to your album and brand as a band. This transitions seamlessly well into the following track Silent Death.
Silent Death seamlessly and smoothly transitions right off the Prelude. The transition is served up with a special effect sounding like children at play in a playground before going into various heavy chord progressions and time signatures. Along with the various rhythm and lead chord progressions the rhythm section of bass/drum totally sets melodious roots in the track almost immediately. The drum double blast beats are insane and stay that way throughout the entire album. At the 1:55 mark there is this hugs wall of sound as the death growls and the melodic death metal side of Overkhaos is first introduced on the album. The cleaner vocals remind me a lot of Nevermore’s Warrel Dane meets Tom Englund of Everygrey. All the melodic assault of all the instruments is followed by the soaring lead vocal work of Mimmo D’oronzo. This is a very intense track for the first track with vocals on the album. In conceptual standards this track also seamlessly transitions smoothly to the next song Solar Starvation.
Solar Starvation transitions smoothly off Silent Death. This is accomplished by the band utilizing a sound effect like a radio transmission into space like a signal or message. Soon a heavy bass line along with a heavy rhythm based guitar chord progression with crunch and teeth starts to walk the listener right into the heart of the song before being hammered by a all out blistering twin guitar progression and deep rhythm tones. The band uses double vocal tracking very tastefully on this track in melody with the blistering instrumental. The twin lead guitar really supports moth sides of the vocals, the clean side and the death side. This track shows that the band have a purpose for every guitar line and bass line and drum line.
Khaos Inc. starts off after a very quick transition away from Solar Starvation. The brief sound effect is as if a car ignition has started and the track is about to serve as the motor to drive the album even further along. From this point there is a sick insane lead guitar solo almost in the galloping tradition of NWOBHM with more complex progressive elements. The double blast beats are the anchor in the beginning. The drum double blast beats come in and out with brief breaks and allow the bass and both rhythm/lead guitars to breathe where all instruments have a unique place within the song. This track lives up to its title that it is very unpredictable and takes the listener on a true melodic roller coaster. Through all the changes however, the band remains on point with the conceptual objective to the album. There are some very melodic metal portions here also.
The Lie You Need starts out with the crowd of people demanding the truth. This narrative is soon met with a explosive and thunderous rhythm based intro with big drum blast beats and bass weaving in and out of breaks. This track also has a lot going for it and goes in and out with many time signature and chord progressions just within the first 2:50 minutes. The time signatures are insane. The deathy vocals remain prevalent in this track. The death vocals serve both as a emotion of anger and a proclamation of a thought.
Crumbling starts out with a effect like that of a civil unrest. It is soon met with a blistering opening chord progression that is straight away. The vocals are soaring in nature. There is soon a very tasteful death vocal to accompany the clean vocal. The band has such advantage throughout the album of having the same vocalist shift some many gears in his voice like he does. The twin lead guitar solo puts a lot of bite into the instrumental portion as well. The lyrical content is basically as the title, a crumbling society.
White Light opens up with a atmospheric electric guitar with the vocals filtered into a more regressive passage. It is soon met with the band’s trademark intricate chord progressions and trademark sound. There is a very heavy thunderous rhythm section that beautifully anchor’s the soaring twin guitar lead and rhythm solo’s. The twin solo’s remind me a lot of early Helloween meets Dream Theater. The string section perfectly compliments the vocals. The bass is insane on here as well.
Die Catsaw! transitions seamlessly off White Light with a deep brooding opening passage. This is soon met by a more melodic death metal approach in the vein of Persefone or Mors Principium Est meets Soilwork. The cleaner vocals are more in the way of a Kamelot meets Symphony X. The bass/drum rhythm section certainly adds serious rhythmic depth to the track. This track here also seems to have two distinct sides in the same harmony, that being the stringed section and the deep rhythm section that both shine on this. The instrumental harmony is set up more orchestral.
Anna’s Song (Featuring Derek Sherinian) opens up with a explosive chord progression and of fusion proportions. The signature sound of Derek Sherinian certainly confirms his appearance on the album. This reminds me a lot of Dream Theater meets Virgin Steel in sound. This is certainly a orchestral buffet blended perfectly with heavy elements of melodic and symphonic death metal. I like how the band utilizes various breaks to set up for other orchestral passages. Every time they break in the track it sets it up for yet another passage set to another climax. The rhythm section continues to anchor the track very beautifully and holing every other part accountable where the band remains on point.
Deadline opens up with various guitar time signatures that continue to be beautifully anchored by the depth in the rhythm section. The opening passage is very methodical with every note. The band also has a way to demonstrate every element they used throughout the album on Deadline. This track is done at a more deep rhythm based than for speed to allow the listener to digest the journey that Overkhaos Beware Of Truth. This is also the longest song on the album and the band does a great job making it more a epic that the listener can take a journey with. This track serves as a excellent melodic and harmonious summary to what the band has managed to perform on the album.
Overkhaos’ Beware Of Truth is a True Dark Horsealbum of 2017. The band bring so many metal elements and progressive elements to Beware Of Truth. It is the multiple elements that will open many doors for the band to play live. The band is also a perfect band for a festival like Prog/Power USA or Prog/Power Europe along with Wacken Open Air. A band like Overkhaos serves as a excellent reminder that this brand of progressive melodic death metal will be around for many more years to come. Rockshots Records have a franchise band in Overkhaos. I give Overkhaos Beware Of Truth a 4.5/5.
Guest Musicians James Labrie – Vocals – President Evil/Taken (Radio Edit)/ A Place In Heaven/Taken (Studio Edit)
Most Beautiful Day President Evil (feat. James LaBrie) Hardest Way Purple Angels The Best of Magic Taken (feat. James LaBrie) [Radio Edit] 18 Euphoria A Place in Heaven (feat. James LaBrie) Ghostwriter Limousine Back in the Shadow Taken (feat. James LaBrie)
For the last 25 years any time you heard about or were introduced to a ‘female-fronted’ band the general conclusion drawn is usually that the band must be a Symphonic metal band. Symphonic Metal meaning the inclusion of choirs and small to large orchestral aesthetics. The other conclusion drawn is that the band must be a Beauty & Beast metal band. Beauty & Beast meaning the male vocal takes on a full guttural death metal style growl and the female vocal is full operatic. In 85% of the cases this has all been true. The other 10% of the remaining 15% has come from the progressive rock/metal community.
When I mention Progressive Metal I mean a blend of heavy, guitar-oriented metal music enriched with compositions innovation and complex arrangements, usually expressed through diverse instrumentation and often (but not always) with odd-time signatures. To take what progressive rock pioneers did and add a metal element in the compositions and song arrangements.
Pioneering ‘female fronted’ progressive metal are The Gathering, To Mera, Agora, After Forever, Kingfisher Sky and Stream Of Passion & Ayreon ,to a certain extent. Bands who are now innovating ‘female fronted’ progressive metal are Vandroya from Brazil, MindMaze from the United States, Ancient Prophecy, Flaming Row, Universal Mind Project Amaranthe from Sweden and now from Italy Last Union.
Last Union are one of the most pure progressive/power/melodic metal bands to come around in the last 10 years. It is no secret by now that Italy has been one of the leading countries to produce quality progressive rock/metal bands since the late 1960’s. Bands like Death SS, Novembre, Rhapsody, Eldritch, Empty Tremor and Vision Divine are a few of many progressive metal bands to come forth from Italy. Even one of the top 5 Rock/Metal Opera’s of all time with Daniele Liverani’s GENIUS Rock/Metal Opera.
Last Union continues this rich melodic tradition from Italy. Last Union now enters that discussion of the rich progressive metal tradition from Italy. On a global front Last Union are a natural progression into the evolution of progressive metal. Last Union’s line up is nothing short of remarkable. Last Union was founded by Elisa Scarpeccio – Vocals and Christiano Tiberi – Guitars, Mike Lepond – Bass (Symphony X) and the legendary Uli Kusch – Drums (ex-Helloween/Gamma Ray).
On the surface Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day seems like just a collection of 11 different songs representing 11 different days. However the more the listener engages the album alongside the album booklet with more detailed attention you begin to see the songs line up as a common themed conceptual album.Mike Lepond from Symphony X once again proves why he is one of ,if not the most sought after bass player in the progressive rock and metal communities. Uli Kusch once again proves his legendary drummer prowess that helped bands like Helloween become the international band they were. To see the tracks line up this way the listener really needs to spend time in the booklet as they listen. Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day is straight prog/power from the first to last riff on the album. I will point some highlights out from each of the 11 tracks on this offering.
Most Beautiful Day opens up as a straight away heavy metal track. That is met in a two part vocal harmony between the female and male narrative. The female obviously being a very strong lead and male lead serving more in a echo capacity. The guitar is very modern. The guitar has the depth of sound of a seven string. Elisa Scarpeccio has one of the most distinctive voices to come along in the progressive metal community within the last 15 years.
President Evil (feat. James LaBrie) begins with a heavy rhythm based chord progression. Cristiano Tiberi quickly establishes himself as a guitarist with a very unique and distinctive sound and style of play. Cristiano Tiberi certainly does a fine job separating his sound among his peers. He literally has to in order for this song to not come off as any Dream Theater or James Labrie solo project. James Labrie displays great vocal presence alongside the rhythmic portion of this track. There is a nice harmonic break in the middle before a powerful two tier guitar solo comes in.
Hardest Way sees the band’s focus directed more towards the bass/drum rhythm section in harmony with some warmer vocal work from Elisa. This track also allows Elisa to show various aspects to her vocals. She certainly has her own sound and I am sure as the band begin to play shows on Most Beautiful Day, the world will see a young and powerful vocalist that is to be reckoned with.
Purple Angels continues to see the band experiment with various rhythm styles along with various vocal harmonies to perfectly compliment those intricate rhythm sections. The vocals sound like a mini choir briefly until Elisa comes in with authority with the lead vocal. There is a great balance in the vocals. The vocal work goes in and out between lead, to backing vocals in a echo. About the 2:00 mark there is a nice break in the instrumental that allows for the lead vocal to really come through.
The Best of Magic begins almost like a classic AOR track. The start of this track takes on a heavier ballad style about it. This track is a very easy song to follow. It could be one of those songs that the fan base of this band will sing back to them in a live setting. The guitar solo is very uplifting and the chord progressions smoother.
Taken (feat. James LaBrie) [Radio Edit] starts out with a wall of both a lead guitar solo and a deep rhythmic section between the guitar/bass/drum. The crunchy distortion in the guitar gives this various depths of heaviness. The intricate vocal presentation between James Labrie and Elisa Scarpeccio is nothing short of stellar. Elisa even sounds a little like James in various lines. If you are a listener following the booklet you will see a common theme conceptual thing happening.
18 Euphoria starts out with a powerful chord progressive passage. This is met with some very powerful vocal work. The vocal work really takes on various levels of harmony. This track clearly displays the bands ability to experiment with various levels of vocal harmonies.
A Place in Heaven (feat. James LaBrie) starts out with a beautiful semi acoustic guitar that has another wonderful and heavier guitar double tracked that allows the track to feel like many guitars are the driving force. Cristiano Tiberi has a very uncanny ability of double tracking and making the guitar sound like a instrument in union and agreement with itself. There is a wonderfully engineered spoken word section in this song as well. The guitar solos and rhythm sections are total beasts here. Uli Kusch shows again why he is one of metal’s legendary drummers.
Ghostwriter starts out as more of a pure power metal track with progressive elements. This track storms ahead with a power metal passage that has various intricate chord progressive elements. This is one of the faster and heavier tracks on the album. The solos are hugs, the bass/drum rhythm section storms all the way through this track.
Limousine is another hard and heavy progressive metal track on the album. Much in the way Ghostwriter is the power track, this one sees the band taking a few more chances at intricate progressive time signatures. The atmosphere is completely straight away power/progressive through this one as well.
Back in the Shadow begins with a more experimental intro before the track takes on a more ‘pure power metal’ presence. The band by now has established themselves as great students to progressive metal but with modern elements.
Taken (feat. James LaBrie) [Studio Edit] this is almost twice as long as the radio edit for obvious reasons. However I would be remiss is omitting that this track is also the epic on the track clocking in at 8+ minutes.That is rather short for progressive standards however this track is still done with great detail and care. The band takes much more time on the intro and the outro portions of the song. This also shows that the band is capable of longer compositions if they want to ever go in that direction.
For being very young both Elisa Scarpeccio and Cristiano Tiberi had a very clear vision on how Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day needed to sound. These fine young musicians even recruited some of the very best in the world with Mike LePond, Uli Kusch and James Labrie. Most Beautiful Day lacks nothing in substance. Although the tracks are shorter considering the other work of their recruits and guest musician, they still meet and fill the objective the band put in place. For the detail and insight of such young musicians I give Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day a 4/5.
Avante garde : an intelligentsia that develops new or experimental concepts especially in the arts.
– Merriam Webster Dictionary – 2016
I have always looked at avant garde arts, sciences and music as deliberate conceptual ideas that are presented to the desired audience as concepts of purpose. Various elements and portions of avant garde are placed there within the arts, science and music they are intended for. The respective artists within the avant garde community have always applied there ideas to either obtain a desired effect or to innovate a change in the conventional wisdom of what is or is not acceptable.
All the above mentioned narrative applies to Italy’s MindAhead. It has certainly been quite a while since I heard a band so organic with its elements. According to the Official MindAhead Facebook page they explain themselves this way,
“The idea is to merge different aspects, sometimes opposite ones, of the human feeling, gathering them in a variegated personal music proposal, that plunge its roots in musical influences that go from seventies progressive rock to the death metal.”
This is the total truth and nothing but. I would like to think they are a cross between Opeth meets Epica meets Between The Buried And Me meets Delain. The ‘Beauty/Beast Metal’ element of clean sweet ethereal female vocals married to the more abrasive male death metal grunts is probably the most contemporary element to this album. The rest is a organic innovation. The true innovative element is the classical chamber like musical elements laced throughout the album from the first track Reflection to the last track Memories.
The more I have listened to it the better the journey. It is definitely for an acquired audio pallet. This is also not one of those over the top productions that seems compressed nor forced. As I mentioned above every chord progression and passage is there deliberately and has a purpose compared to certain passages and chord progressions other bands use just as a filler which there is many. In MindAhead’s Reflections we also have very vintage progressive elements that hearkened towards the 1970’s with some Pink Floyd to Yes style time signatures.
Now I will proceed to go into depth on MindAhead’s Reflections. This will be a track by track analysis
Reflection is a instrumental track to open the album. It is as if the music is playing in a chamber or open concert hall. It contains elements from both chamber music and early to middle 1970’s Pink Floyd in its atmospheric nature.
Remain Intact picks up with where Reflection left off. Marching to the backbone of double blast beats in the rhythm section and strong male grunts married with a sweet clean female vocal it is more progressive than symphonic. That is something rarely found with the Beauty & Beast elements of metal. Think later more progressive After Forever with more metalcore vocal elements in the grunts. There is a very intricate outro loaded with various time signature progressions.
Mind Control starts off with some dark ambient like atmosphere with a dark piano passage. Soon this track explodes with heavy rhythmic based double blast beats and the female male vocal dynamic. This is a track where the male vocal is not always rest in the grunt or growl narrative but also takes on a cleaner vocal as well. The track drops off at the end and sets up for a seamless transition to On The Dead Snow.
Video Courtesy of ( Revalve Records Official YouTube Channel )
On The Dead Snow fades in with a smooth seamless transition from where Mind Control leaves off. It soon explodes in a full sonic blast. It is a all out audio assault throughout this track. The rhythm section is like a full military assault of blast beats and tuned down bass. The guitar is not always a rhythmic instrument but also a lead stringed instrument. The middle of the track takes on layers and layers of melody and vocal harmony. This is a rare time where the male grunts are very understandable. The middle also serves as a breed ground of various progressive time signatures and off guitar solos. Towards the end the track has some elements of a ballad before the track picks up once again.
Video Courtesy of ( Revalve Records Official YouTube Channel )
Amigdala is the true epic on the album. It opens up with a very Pink Floyd atmospheric passage of great expanse and minimal elements. The bass and drum rhythmic sections kicks in to carry the atmosphere into towards the vocal narrative. This is a true 1970’s inspired progressive track that it continues to build layer upon layer of atmospheres. The vocal work of Kyo Calati has a soulful quality about it. The male grunts are more of a instrumental compliment for the cleaner more ethereal female vocal. The grunts span from death metal, to light grindcore and even have elements of black metal screams. There is such a heavy atmospheric aesthetic that the band allows for the track to breathe and not to lean some much on compression. The guitar solo’s are almost like that of David Gilmore meets Steve Howe of Yes. This track shows the mature depths that MindAhead have as a young band.
Emerald Green Eyes picks up where Amigdala left off with a heavy atmospheric opener before the track takes on a full assault once again with heavy blast beats and male death growls that serve the two fold purpose of a instrument and a harmonic vocal along with the female vocal. This track also takes on light industrial elements with the guitar and bass. At the 3:15 mark the track takes on a very prog rock vibe in the solo.
The Mask Through The Looking Glass (Part 1) starts out with almost a 16th century acoustical element. Soon it is layer with violins and keyboards to form a beautiful instrumental track. The Mask Through The Looking Glass (Part 1) serves as the perfect instrumental intro for The Mask Through The Looking Glass (Part 2).
The Mask Through The Looking Glass (Part 2) opens up with a surprising yet, blistering intro due to how The Mask Through The Looking Glass (Part 1) left off. This track also reminds me a lot of the NWOBHM or New Wave Of British Heavy Metal with the galloping guitar and bass rhythms. The female vocal really lights this one up very well. The entire rhythm section is some of the best I have heard in 10 years on this track. For a track that is only 6:31 this is full of time signatures and insane guitar solos.
Farewell opens up with a very clean and beautiful acoustic guitar intro. It continues to build layers upon layers in the stringed section with the percussive elements of drum and bass subtly coming into the track. The band allows much breathing room for the listener to become immersed in this track. If there had to be a ballad on the album, Farewell would fall into that category. Although it has a heavy ballad element about it, Farewell still maintains the progressive objective and integrity the band has displayed throughout the album.
Three Sides Of A Dangerous Mind opens up with a beautiful acoustic track before taking on a heavy charging assault with brutal double blast beats, the bass serving a two fold purpose of both a stringed and percussive element towards the rhythm section. This track is bound together with a beautiful atmosphere from start to finish. The atmospheric element helps the guitar solos, rhythm section and vocals stand out in a way that every member of the band can be fully heard and understood. This track also bring the album together as a great avant garde metal concept.
Memories is the third instrumental track on the album that closes the album just as cohesive as the opening track Reflection did. It helps the listeners audio senses digest the entire album they just heard as well.
MindAhead are a band of innovation in metal. They are on the vanguard of where avant garde and progressive metal is going into the future. I believe Reflections is opening up another door of true ideas and standards for this kind of experimental metal. They continue Italy’s rich under rated progressive rock and metal tradition. They have a very distinctive and unique sound that will stand out among the current metal landscape. MindAhead’s Reflections is one of the absolute strongest debut albums over the last 25 years. I am giving MindAhead’s Reflections a perfect 5/5.
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