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(50 min, Mellow)
TRACK LIST: 1. A Crown of Gold 8:02 2. Reality Show 9:58 3. Sailing to Caralis 3:18 4. Opus 7:04 5. Glorious 8:51 6. The Tale of the Black Cloak 9:11 7. Carol 4:32 8. In the Park 8:06 LINEUP: Alessandro Guerriero - vocals; electric, acoustic & bass guitars Andrea Picciau - keyboards & piano Roberto Diomedi - drums With: Andrea Iddas - bass (1, 5, 7)
Prolusion. "Opus" is the second offering from Italian group The YLECLIPSE.
Analysis. "Opus" includes six quite long songs ranging from 7 to 10 minutes and two shorter instrumental pieces. On each of the tracks involving lyrical content The Yleclipse continue developing that successfully applied formula of blending Marillion's influences with their own achievements in the field of Neo Progressive which has become their trademark sound since their debut CD "Prime Substance". However two of such, A Crown of Gold and Glorious, reveal rather too many derivative features, some of the central themes and keyboard solos very strongly resembling those from Marillion's blockbusters, Incommunicado and The White Flag, respectively, and Alessandro Guerriero's singing is almost indistinguishable from Fish, throughout. The other songs are much more original, particularly Reality Show, In the Park and Opus, whose instrumental canvasses are free of direct influences, to say the least. Besides, on the first two of these Alessandro uses mostly his innate voice qualities. Well, the title track finds his vocals steering somewhere between those of Fish and Phil Collins. In the Park is probably the most theatric, the long introductory theme having some piquant flavor of old-fashioned music common to Queen or Electric Light Orchestra. The title track is almost in every respect close to the songs next described, and is somewhat inferior to them only in diversity. The Tale of the Black Cloak and Reality Show are the two most complex and intriguing pieces on the album, with strong driving guitar work through much of each, delving into more of a Prog-Metal sound in places. However, only Reality Show remains original throughout. The Tale of the Black Cloak sounds fresh and exciting down to the finale, but then, unfortunately, the band pays another tribute to their mighty benefactor. Nonetheless these two are among the works that raise "Opus" far above an average Neo Prog release, the others being the title track and the two instrumental pieces, Sailing to Caralis and Carol. Both are built around passages of classical guitar and those of synthesizer imitating the sounds of flute and harp, arousing quite vivid associations with the music of medieval minstrels.
Conclusion. While not something groundbreaking, "Opus" is nevertheless a really strong album in its genre category, full of rich textures and contrasts, with elements of classic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal. Part of what appeals to me in this recording is the ample use of piano and string pads over the more electric textures. All in all, this kind of music has always had an invariable success among most of those comprising the Prog Rock audience for the last twenty years, at least.
VM: May 26, 2006
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