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Pandora - 2011 - "Sempre E Ovunque Oltre Il Sogno"

(62:55, BTF Records)

1.	Il Re degli Scemi 5:08
2.	L'Altare del Sacrificio 2:09
3.	L'Incantesimo del Druido 8:17
4.	Discesa Attraverso lo Stige 4:13
5.	Ade Sensazione di Paura 7:41
6.	03-02-1974 7:31
7.	La Formula Finale di Chad-Bat 3:56
8.	Sempre e Ovunque 23:00

Christian Dimasi  guitars, bass
Beppe Colombo  keyboards; vocals
Corrado Grappeggia  keyboards; vocals
Claudio Colombo  drums; guitars, bass; flutes; keyboards

Prolusion. The Italian band PANDORA was formed back in the autumn of 2005, instigated by Claudio Colombo with keyboardists Beppe and Corrado the first to opt in on this endeavor. After stabilizing as a four piece they were signed to AMS Records who released their initial production "Dramma di un Poeta Ubriaco" in 2008. "Sempre E Ovunque Oltre Il Sogno" is their second album, and was released in early 2011.

Analysis. The Italian prog scene is a curious one. Many hold acts from that nation in high esteem, and see bands hailing from that geographical location as more adventurous and innovative than artists with their base in the UK or the US. And while those are matters of taste and perception first and foremost, I acknowledge that, on average, the progressive artists I do encounter from Italy tend to be less restrictive in terms of limiting their stylistic expressions. And Pandora is as good a band as any to document just that. Rather unsurprising for an act that have two keyboardists in their midst, symphonic art rock is the main foundation for the proceedings. These guys know their vintage keyboard sounds and how to effectively apply the mournful calls of the Mellotron. Those who fancy a slice of 70's inspired art rock of the symphonic kind should find quite a bit to their fancy on this disc, as long as they like variation that is, as gentle pastoral landscapes featuring light ethereal keyboards and flute are just as common as richly layered sound tapestries with guitars underscoring a minor plethora of motifs crafted by tangents of various kinds. Dark-toned, mood-rich atmospheres are just as common as ones of a lighter and more energetic guise, and the one dimension that might alienate some is that these guys aren't afraid to incorporate metal-inspired details into their otherwise vintage-oriented compositions. Compact, massive guitar riffs are a regular feature throughout, although most often dampened and with a subservient placement in the arrangements. Those who prefer their symphonic journeys to be of the classical mould will also find material to cater for their tastes here, opening effort Il Re Degli Scemi catering to those with a particular fancy for music with a much longer tradition than the relatively infant one we refer to as rock. In short, this CD is something of a smorgasbord for those who enjoy symphonic art rock in most of its different flavors, but in a manner sophisticated rather than advanced, complex rather than experimental in scope. I'll also have to admit that I'm a sucker for good drummers, and Claudio Colombo is a fine example of just that. His high quality, sophisticated drum patterns appear to be something of a trademark feature for this act, which at least for me is a quality addition of note in the details department.

Conclusion. If you generally enjoy music branded as symphonic progressive rock, Pandora is a band that you most likely should check out, especially if your tastes are liberal to the extent that listening to a band that blends the retro-oriented strains of the genre with elements of a more modern origin, first and foremost in the shape of metal guitar riffs, sounds like an interesting experience. A fine and well made album overall, sporting some of the best quality drum work I have encountered for some time as an additional bonus.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: June 12, 2011
The Rating Room

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