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(43 min, Azafran Media)
TRACK LIST: 1. Concierto Fatal 4:15 2. La Batalla 4:29 3. Joven Ruso 3:37 4. El Hijo de Lindbergh 4:33 5. Richie 3:49 6. La Paz es Verde 3:47 7. Mas Que Una Intencion 5:25 8. Tiempo Gris 4:33 9. Tenias Razon 4:30 10. Justo Y Traidor 4:24 (b/t) LINEUP: Julio Castejon – guitars; vocals Jorge Banegas – keyboards Jose Ramon Perez – bass Enrique Cajide – drums Miguel Onate – vocals
Prolusion. ASFALTO, from Spain, was formed in 1972 and is one of a few vintage-era progressive rock bands that still exist. This output (3-sleeve folding digipack) covers their mid-‘80s period of work. Besides “Mas Que Una Intencion”, the group’s fifth album from 1983, it includes one more studio recording, “Cronophobia”, which was originally released in 1984, and also “En Vivo”, a DVD capturing their live performance from 1985. The CD reissues of the studio albums are each enhanced with one bonus track. All three of the outings feature the same line-up of five musicians (see above), of whom guitarist, singer and songwriter Julio Castejon is the only member of the band who played on all its albums without exception.
Analysis. While being a typically ‘80s musical creation, “Mas Que Una Intencion” belongs to the Pomp Rock style invented by Saga, never echoing Neo Prog of the post-Genesis/Marillion variety, which was most widespread and popular at the time. Save two of the ten tracks presented, El Hijo de Lindbergh and Tiempo Gris, both of which are refined piano-laden ballads with some cool orchestrated arrangements in places, the influence of the Canadian band (think mainly its second LP “Images at Twilight” from 1979) is striking throughout the album, Asfalto also playing either a Hard Rock-meets-Symphonic Progressive variation of the style, such as on the tracks Joven Ruso, Richie, the title one, Tenias Razon and Justo Y Traidor (an outtake from the original LP) or, well, practically the same, only with much fewer pronounced guitar attacks, which they do on each of the remaining three pieces, Concierto Fatal, La Batalla and La Paz es Verde. There are no sudden turns or twists on either of the compositions; the focus is song-oriented, but with instrumental sections which are fairly extended and interesting alike. Miguel Onate is a gifted vocalist. Although the lyrics are in Spanish, his singing as such has something in common with Michael Sadler/Saga’s too. The music is emotionally uplifting, at times overtly playful, which is yet another factor making comparisons between Asfalto and Saga topical. The companion album, “Chronophobia”, is a lot more straightforward affair. As the band normally follows the verse/chorus approach here, the record is full of so-called hooks, sounding like an emasculated (progressively speaking) version of its predecessor. If we only take its 1983 creation “Kilroy Was Here”, the American quintet Styx will serve as an apt reference point, while its earlier albums are dramatic in mood and are more progressive. As to the “En Vivo” DVD, it finds the band performing superbly onstage. The audio quality is also excellent, and the video material is good enough, considering when it was filmed. Musically, however, the DVD isn’t totally compelling, since the compositions from “Chronophobia” form about one third of the concert.
Conclusion. As the whole output bears the same title as (chronologically) the first album in the set does, “Mas Que Una Intencion”, I have an impression that its other two items serve as bonus features here. Either way, only the said record is fully progressive, albeit even this one can be highly recommended only to those who prefer accessible prog rock music.
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