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Il Bacio della Medusa, Italy



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Il Bacio della Medusa - s/t. 2004 private; 2006 Black Widow (CD; LP); 2015 AMS/BTF (mini-LP)
Il Bacio della Medusa - Discesa Agl'inferi D'un Giovane Amante. 2008 Black Widow (CD; LP);  2015 AMS/BTF (mini-LP)
Il Bacio della Medusa - Deus Lo Vult. 2012 private (hard bound book CD); 2015 AMS/BTF (mini-LP)

In the wake of discussing all of these fantastic new Italian progressive rock bands from 2013, I think this would be a good opportunity to address one of the groups who's been operating in this field for almost a decade now. Il Bacio della Medusa sort of slipped in without notice until their second album arrived, and even then few paid much heed. This is about the period I was introduced to them, but wasn't able to give the albums the attention they deserved. Last year I rectified that by buying all 3 albums on CD and absorbing them properly. So it's about high time I get a band page going here.

----Il Bacio della Medusa

Il Bacio della Medusa may have entered the scene quietly, but that album cover certainly is striking. Like a cross between Nuova Idea's Clowns and Manilla Road's The Courts of Chaos, one might imagine this to be some wacky prog metal take on the classic Italian 70s scene. Fortunately it is not and is much more reverent to the Italian progressive rock masters than heavy metal. Still, this is definitely their heaviest album, and also their most modern sounding. It could pass for sophisticated hard rock as much as symphonic progressive. In that way, Il Bacio della Medusa started their career much in the same way as Deus Ex Machina. Hey, you gotta start somewhere. And in 2004, there was a lull in the retro progressive movement, and it seemed every band coming out of Italy were either prog metal nuts, or Dutch styled neo progressive bands singing in English, neither of which interested me much anymore. So here comes Il Bacio della Medusa with their flutes, psychotic Italian vocals, crazy dynamics, even an accordion, plus more ideas than they could control at that time. In retrospect, it's an excellent album, where perhaps the only fault was the aforementioned crunchy guitars, which belied their overall approach.

----Discesa Agl'inferi D'un Giovane Amante

Il Bacio della Medusa is back with their sophomore effort Discesa Agl'inferi D'un Giovane Amante. Just rolls off the tongue doesn't it? Well if there was any doubt where Il Bacio della Medusa's heart was after the debut, then those were put to rest for the opening here. With the addition of violin, Il Bacio della Medusa declares that they are indeed a progressive rock band, and they're here to stay. Simone Cecchini's vocals have definitely improved, and you can tell he's studied the early 70s masters intently (and even more so on their 3rd album). Love the Pholas Dactylus styled psychotic narration. His performance is definitely one of the highlights of the disc. Meanwhile Diego Petrini gives the old fashioned piano more air time, which is always welcome here at the UTR. Not to mention plenty of old school organ. Eva Morelli's staccato flute is layered on the constantly changing rhythms, and guitarist Brozetti still has a bit too much pig squeal in his guitar, but he can lay off when appropriate. For those who miss the glory days of Osanna, you could do worse than pick this album up on your next order.

----Deus Lo Volt

Il Bacio della Medusa returns with their 3rd opus, an album that is likely to please fans of classic early 1970s Italian progressive rock – and perhaps only to them. Allow me a chance to further clarify: If band names such as Delirium, Cervello, and Odissea send a chill up your spine, then Deus Lo Volt will be considered a must purchase. Otherwise, you may want to do a bit more research and get back to us. There is some Italian progressive rock that is easy to digest on initial listening (PFM, Le Orme, Acqua Fragile…) – and then there’s the deep-dive stuff – albums that require hours of listening to a preferred style and still love it despite the quirks. In other words, you have to be “all in” to appreciate an album such as this. Good, bad, or indifferent, I myself would have to be considered “all in”, so I think it’s a wonderful piece overall. But this is not the first album I’d pull from my collection for a co-worker looking to hear a few sounds from my collection. They’d look at me as if I’d just arrived from another universe (well, they do anyway, but let’s not go there…). Deus Lo Volt is a concept album about Pope Urbano II, the Papal overlord of none other than the First Crusade. If there was ever a topic that is likely to draw a gleeful smile from a shadowy progressive rock fan, well then... this has got to take the cake! What the lyrics interpret of his life and ambition is for Italian speakers only, and I could care a less really. I’m here for the music and the vocal representation. On this latter point, the male vocals here are of the 70s gruff variety similar to the aforementioned bands in sentence number #2.  Of course there’s the fluttering flute provided by no less than a shapely and beautiful long haired lass. All the other requisite sounds and themes are in place: Majestic keyboards, hard rocking guitars, and a rhythm section that can’t stand to stay on the same meter for more than 20 seconds. A couple of somewhat disappointing observations: The title track, for the first 5 minutes at least, sounds more like Iron Maiden on their debut than Italian prog rock. And while I love Maiden as much as the next person, I do feel it’s a bit incongruous here. Though the final two minutes of said track show off their Italo-prog cred – add flute - and go all Osanna on us. And then finally we get to the length of the disc. Now I know lots of folks feel that “filling the disc” with 80 minutes of music is tiresome, and while I may not completely agree, I do understand the point. But Deus Lo Vult is only 34 minutes long. Certainly another 10 or 15 minutes could have been added to fill out a normal LP length? We’re in Dalton territory here, right? On the plus side, the CD comes in a wonderful hardbound book cover, with an interesting lyric libretto with photos. I’m really enjoying this musically and aesthetically. But surely, oh surely, there  had to be another 10 good minutes sitting on the cutting room floor?

Last update: July 27, 2016

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