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(59:24, Black Widow Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Hystero Demonopathy 5:55 2. Suicide Goth 7:26 3. Are Mine 7:06 4. Disincantation 7:03 5. Demonic Hysteria 5:13 6. The Devil’s Nightmare 4:56 7. Witches 7:25 8. The Fatal Letter 7:14 9. Possaction 7:10 LINEUP: Doris Norton – vocals; keyboards, digital orchestra Antonio Bartocetti – guitars, bass; vocals Monika Tasnad – medium With: Florian Gorman – ac. drums Svetlana Serduchka – vocals Vladimir Leonard – vocals Laura Haslam – vocals
Prolusion. “Hystero Demonopathy” is the new release by the legendary ANTONIUS REX, from Italy. Click here to visit the band’s section on this site and read more about it.
Analysis. The nine tracks that make up this 59-minute CD are all largely instrumental pieces (at least on average), using either theatric narratives or a mixed operatic choir, but never traditional vocals. Most of them are filled with a gothic aura and are characterized by a dark and, at the same time, lushly symphonic sound that is largely the band’s own. Two of those, the title one and Are Mine, widely deploy heavy guitar riffs, stylistically suggesting a kind of symphonic Doom Metal-meets-doomy symphonic Art-Rock with bits of classical here and there (mainly courtesy of organ), the latter beginning and finishing as an interplay between organ and acoustic guitar. Each of them finds a groove early on, and builds intensity and variation throughout, using bass, drums and keyboards as the primary foundation, then overlaying with guitar, additional keyboards (above all Mini-Moog and Hammond), and a string ensemble on some occasions. These two compositions are absolute masterworks, both referring directly to the band’s classic, early-to-mid-’70s, phase of work. The Devil’s Nightmare also has a lot of moves that are performed up-tempo, but contains substantially fewer doom metal-inspired ones. The other six tracks are basically slow-paced, deploying no heavy guitar riffs at all, albeit four of them, Suicide Goth, Disincantation, Witches and Demonic Hysteria, are still diverse pieces of music, interesting throughout, the former three featuring some really strong art-rock arrangements, ones driven by acoustic guitar and piano in particular. In all cases the keyboards combine older analog tones (still using a large palette of vintage instruments) with later digital ones, sometimes coming off a bit ambient-like, sometimes nicely atmospheric. The melodies tend toward the less dark and even romantic in places, pushing things toward the new-age side in places, but otherwise the music is as enjoyable as that on the best tracks, described first. The remaining two tunes, The Fatal Letter and Possaction, are pieces of symphonic Ambient, and while not excellent, are good, at least in their own right. In both cases the bottom end bass and drum patterns provide a perfect launching point for the expanded cinematic imagery created by the keyboards, guitars and voices. Comparisons might be drawn with the band’s late ‘70s creation, “Ralefun”. Finally, there is also a bonus video on the CD, Video Rexample-I, which includes several tracks from the band’s first period of work (1969-‘74) and is an important part of this release. The music is dark and full of magic, accompanied by images of crosses, chapels and gothic cathedrals shot from various perspectives, though there are also some real video clips. Brilliant stuff!
Conclusion. The latest Antonius Rex release will please anyone who’s into Gothic Symphonic Progressive, let alone fans of the band. Dark and majestic, this is largely imaginative music, though, and I suppose the ideal medium for it would be a DVD with visuals from the performance or at least something in the vein of the bonus material.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: March 1, 2012
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