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Line-up: Gianluca Galli - guitars (+ keyboards - on three tracks) Jacopo Mielle - vocals Andrea Castelli - basses Senio Firmati - drums With: Max Rossi - Hammond organ With: Fabrizio Bilotti - Sitar & funky guitar (on two tracks) Heiko Dentzer - drums & percussion (on two tracks) Foggy - bass (on two tracks)
Preamble. Most likely, "Roots" is the debut album by the Italian band Mantra. I have never heard of them up till now.
The Album. Nothing else but the old 'n' gold Classic Progressive Hard Rock in the best traditions of the genre is what the music on "Roots" (indeed, roots!) is about. Here, the solos and passages of acoustic guitar and solos of electric guitar remind me of Led Zeppelin, the riffs of electric guitar of Black Sabbath, and passages of the Hammond organ of Deep Purple. It's really great (and so nostalgic!) to hear the music that is positively influenced by the early creation of each of the Hard Rock Golden Trinity bands. You may ask me what I imply by saying "positively" influenced? This means that while the shades of each of the said Legends are evident in the music of Mantra, there aren't any direct borrowings on "Roots" (unlike the debut and eponymous Kingdom Come album, for instance: can you remember?). Furthermore, there are not that little of the band's original ideas on the album as well, so it sounds quite fresh and inflammatory. And it's all right with me that the band's singer, Jacopo Mielle, makes no secret of the fact that Robert Plant was the 'correspondence' teacher for him. He sings much better than Lenny Wolf at the same Kingdom Come and without an accent, which, by the way, isn't that typical for Italian performers (and not only). That Classic Progressive Hard Rock, the general stylistic aspects of which I've depicted above, is presented on eight out of the thirteen tracks on the album. All five of the remaining tracks are the excellent ballads, three of which are both quite complex and heavy. Diverse and beautiful interplay between the magic solos and overtones of Sitar, passages of acoustic guitar, and solos of Indian percussion instruments are amazingly interwoven with heavy musical textures on two of them. Though the light flavor of music of the East is also present on another ballad - that, which consists exclusively of passages of an acoustic guitar, those of the ARP-like string ensemble, and vocals.
Summary. Mantra's "Roots" is the real quintessence of the most popular musical genre of the first half of the 1970s, Classic Hard Rock. So if you have a wish to experience *those* passionate feelings once again, just get at the "Roots" of Mantra.
VM: February 25, 2003
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