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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Syndone

La Bella รจ la Bestia (The Beauty is the Beast)

Review by Gary Hill

The music here runs the gamut from fusion to fusion based progressive rock, Italian prog and more pure jazz. The Italian leanings will certainly mean that people who dig that particular style of prog will find plenty to enjoy here. I’d have to say that, as a person who doesn’t like operatic vocals (and Italian prog uses a lot of those – and this disc has some) that I really enjoyed this album. The blend of sounds is quite cohesive and strong. The album works well.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Introitus
The rhythm section opens this and the piece grows with a killer fusion meets traditional prog sound that has a lot great keyboards and jazz in the mix. It’s certainly got a lot of jazz in it and as it really kicks in later, it’s all about the fusion. It runs through a number of changes with different flavors and sound leading the way at different points. There are some rather operatic female vocals near the end of the piece with virtually no accompaniment.
Il fiele e il limite
As a horn section starts things off here this is much more traditional jazz and has a lot of energy. Then it shifts to more guitar driven fusion meets prog rock sounds from there. It drops to a piano dominated arrangement for vocals that seem to combine that typical Italian opera infused vocal sound with something closer to a jazz torch sound. Some violin runs over the top lending a lot of flavor and charm to the piece.
Rosa Recisa
Jazz and other sounds are blended here in a great arrangement that’s got a lot of symphonic elements and covers a lot of musical ground. The male vocals are dramatic, theatrical and powerful. They lean towards extreme metal singing later in the piece. But the music keeps it decidedly progressive rock oriented.
Complice carnefice
While this is more straight ahead hard rock, there is still plenty of jazz and other progressive rock built into it. They take it into a mellower, more traditional Italian prog section with those theatrical vocals. Then it powers back out from there. We a killer instrumental section later that’s got plenty of both classic prog and fusion in it. There’s a short mellow section later. Then it powers up into another smoking hot fusion jam. This is among the best segments of the whole disc.
Piano prog impromptu
As the title suggests, the main instrument here is piano. The vocals are dramatic, theatrical and quite operatic. This is short and basically a ballad.
Tu non sei qui –
This seemingly comes straight out of the previous piece and continues the basic musical theme, but becomes more like classical music. It works in a very operatic way, but there is jazz in the mix, too.
Orribile mia forma
There’s an awesome jazz meets prog arrangement to this. The female vocals are certainly in keeping with RIO. There are some dramatic male vocals and then it fires out into a soaring fusion jam that’s classic. It returns to the RIO with some more of those vocals and we get some rather Zappa-like sounds at times, too. Then the male vocals are almost extreme metal merged with opera. They work through the cut by returning to and expanding on the various sounds before it ends.
Mercanti di gioia
After an intricate and jazzy introduction, this powers out to some of the hardest rocking music of the set. Then it drops back to a mellow, jazz-like movement for the vocals. Those varied sections make the basis of the piece, but with expansions on each of them coming and going. This has some of the best jamming of the whole disc.
Bestia!
Feeling like it comes right out of the previous track, more traditional jazz sounds lead this one. It drops down for a short mellower section, then powers up into more RIO-like music as the vocals partly scream and partly come across as theatrical ones. It works from there into a symphonic prog meets fusion jam that’s just plain awesome. Retro prog (a bit like a proggier Deep Purple) takes it as the keyboards solo. Then it fires out into a different jam with some of those female operatic vocals. Eventually it drops way down for some seriously operatic female vocals. Piano eventually takes it out.
Ora respira
There is a dramatic and mysterious element here. While the jazz isn’t entirely removed, this is most like an exploratory, mellow progressive rock. The vocals fit into that operatic style that’s so common in Italian progressive rock, but later we get some more rocking vocals. In a lot of ways this is a more freeform song and even features a short drum solo to end it.
La ruota della fortuna
Jazz and symphonic prog are combined in this jam that feels a bit more playful. It drops way down after the extended introduction to one of the mellowest movements of the disc. Piano carries it, but there’s a lot of symphonic music in the mix. There is a full on symphonic jam as this continues. Then we get
Canto della rosa
Dramatic symphonic sounds are the basis for this short piece with operatic vocals.
 
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