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(52:58, Black Widow Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Compagni Di Baal 1:42 2. Diogene 7:11 3. Divoratori Della Notte 6:42 4. Ballata Per Liliana 7:11 5. L'Oscura Persecuzione 7:38 6. Cosmochronos 4:34 7. Sogni Di Dominio 6:24 8. La Caduta Del Conte Di St. Germain 4:12 9. Tutti I Colori Del Buio 2:05 10. Snowblind (b/t) 5:19 LINEUP: Oleg Smirnoff – Hammond, Mini-Moog, Mellotron Andrea Cardellino – guitar; keyboards Giovanni Cardellino – lead vocals Dario Petrelli – drums Fabian Oliver – bass With: Giusy Cardellino – vocals, backing vocals Maurizio Sacquegno – acoustic guitar Thomas Hand Chaste – drums Ilario Suppressa – bass
Prolusion. The Italian band L'IMPERIO DELLE OMBRE was formed back in 1995, and while the initial constellation fell apart they would reform around bandleader Giovanni Cardellino and his brother Andrea a few years later. They released their self-titled debut album towards the end of 2004. "I Compagni De Baal" is their second album, and was originally issued on vinyl in 2010, the CD edition following in 2011.
Analysis. After listening to this production with care and concentration a few times, the word that first hits me as the best description for this excursion is Gothic. Not goth like metal bands with female vocalists or kids dressed in black silk meeting in clubs, but Gothic. As in Bram Stoker's "Dracula", Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "Hound of the Baskervilles," the charming but sickly dark and brooding atmospheres explored with care and affection in the late 1800's, in what is often described as Victorian Gothic. But while the emotional associations bring forth art more than 100-years-old, the musical contents explored are of a more recent origin. 1970's hard rock appears to form something of a foundation for this production, as the songs in general and the guitar parts in particular evince strong associations towards that type of music in structure. One might note that the guitar sound is of a more contemporary nature however, dark and down-tuned in a manner that first became more common in the first half of the 1980's. Doom metal, as well as traditional heavy metal, is the second most important flavor added to these excursions. As far as references go, Black Sabbath and later doom metal acts like Candlemass are hard to pass by. But by and large my impression is that at least in terms of certain instrumental structures the main influences can be found elsewhere in the 70's rooster of hard rock bands, although I'm unable to single out any artist in particular. Compositionally these creations have a stronger association to art rock however. The main part of the album tells a conceptual story; the songs are mostly on the long side, and we're served shifts in pace and intensity on a regular basis. Theme alterations and distinct developments aren't as numerous, but the liberal use of analogue keyboards – Hammond, Moog and Mellotron – is of a kind that many progressive rock fans will appreciate. Following in the footprints of artists often referred to as occult, with an emphasis on sickly textures and menacing atmospheres, and an approach I presume many will describe as dramatic or perhaps theatrical, L'Impero Delle Ombre explores this landscape with the same care and affection as aforementioned writers Stoker and Doyle did in Victorian-era England. The songs tend to be intriguing, the atmospheres strong, and the album as such is a charming affair, beguiling if you like. Not quite a perfect masterpiece, the cover version of Black Sabbath's Snowblind is one I don't feel compelled to revisit in a hurry, but by and large a high-quality production.
Conclusion. Dramatic music crafted by blending symphonic art rock, hard rock and progressive doom metal is what's explored on L'Imperio Delle Ombre's sophomore album, which has been carefully assembled by musicians with a genuine passion for the task at hand. The moods are dark and brooding, and a certain occult atmosphere hovers over the music and lyrical concept alike. I'd imagine that the more adventurous part of Black Sabbath's following should enjoy this album immensely, and those who are ardent fans of artists like Antonius Rex should find plenty to enjoy on this disc too. A warmly recommended CD that deserves to reach a broad audience.
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