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Ballo Delle Castagne - 2012 - "Surpassing All Other Kings"

(40:00, Bloodrock/Black Widow Records)



1.  Tema di Gilgamesh 4:53
2.  Il Risveglio 4:16
3.  Il Viaggio 4:56
4.  Rorate Coeli 3:40
5.  Konigin der Nacht 3:56
6.  Il Segreto 3:55
7.  Aquarius Age 2:57
8.  Fire in the Sky 5:15
9.  Eoni 1:58
10. Apocriphon of Gilgamesh 4:13


Vinz Aquarian – vocals; Moog, Koassillator
Diego Banchero – bass 
Fernando Cherchi – drums
Roberto Lucanato – guitars 
Carolina Cechinao – vocals
Marina Larcher – vocals 

Prolusion. The Italian band BALLO DELLE CASTAGNE was formed in 2007. “Surpassing All Other Kings” is their third album, following “Kalachakra” from 2010 and “BDC” from 2009. Inspired by the legend of Babylonian hero Gilgamesh, it was released in the fall of last year. As you can see above, there are only two official members in the outfit: Vinz Aquarian on vocals and keyboards and Diego Banchero on bass.

Analysis. The album is made up of ten tracks, and the two that it begins with, Tema di Gilgamesh and Il Risveglio, find the duo being augmented by all four of the guest musicians declared. On both of them the rhythm section of bass and drum kit is topped by effective keyboard and guitar leads for a nice combination of vintage-style symphonic Art-Rock and energetic doom metal tendencies, which brings to mind a cross between Black Sabbath circa “Master of Reality” and mid-‘70s Van Der Graaf Generator. Three of the musicians provide vocals, often singing together as a quasi-operatic choir in the best Italian tradition, and then they do so, I have the impression that the said two bands are jamming with Universal Totem Orchestra in a way. The mood of the songs is dark, going from dramatic symphonic to gothic doom. The arrangements are well crafted, and the level of performance is high, with guitarist Roberto Lucanato and – particularly – Vinz standing out, the keyboardist having a thorough command of his instruments, using a variety of devices and techniques to keep matters interesting. To be more precise as well as fair, all of the musicians involved are skilled performers, but, nevertheless, it’s Vinz who shines with mastery most often – not only on his solo spots, but also when creating lush soundscapes as supportive background. Unfortunately, the female singers are absent on most of the subsequent tracks, none of those as heavy and mesmerizing as the described two, albeit those such as Il Viaggio (which only features a duo of women as vocalists), Il Segreto, Fire in the Sky and Eoni are still interesting throughout. The first three of them are characterized by an original fusion of guitar Art-Rock and Hard Rock in style, with only massive keyboards lacking, while the latter is in all senses an excellent sympho-prog ballad, largely instrumental. Bringing together refined passages of acoustic guitar and layers of Mellotron, it somewhat reminds me of ‘Fluff” from Black Sabbath’s “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” enriched with elements of flamenco. The remaining four tracks, Apocriphon of Gilgamesh, Aquarius Age, Rorate Coeli and Konigin der Nacht, all contain an artistic narration (in German instead of Italian in the latter case), but no full-fledged vocals. The style of the first two of these is groovy psychedelic Space Rock of the German school, referring to bands like Amon Duul II and Ash Ra. There is in both cases a balance between electronic and analog keyboard sounds with some (unobtrusive) non-musical effects utilized to good effects. As to the latter two tunes, both of them go no further but combining piano chords, synthesizer effects and a recitative, their artificial construction making them sound contrived in a way.

Conclusion. While the musicians certainly have room to grow on some (if not many) of the tracks, they have explored several different styles on this album, so it’s a good effort overall, to my mind. If you’re into music where the emphasis is more on mood and atmosphere than on details, be sure to check it out. For instance, fans of Antonius Rex will find plenty here to enjoy.

VM=Vitaly Menshikov: March 3, 2012
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Black Widow Records
Bloodrock Records
Il Ballo Delle Castagne


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