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(53:17, Black Widow Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Holy Circle 7:48 2. Int Mystery 5:57 3. The Battle of Marduk 9:53 4. The Rest of the Sacred Swarm 4:48 5. Rieger 5:10 6. The Strife of Souls 10:00 7. Toccata Neogotica No-5 9:43 LINEUP: Paolo Lazzeri – organ, synthesizers Maurizio Bozzi – bass With: Roberto Bichi – drums Claudio Cuseri – percussion
Prolusion. The Italian band THREE MONKS was formed back in 2009, with a core membership consisting of composer and organist Paolo Lazzeri and bassist Maurizio Bozzi. They released their debut album "Neogothic Progressive Toccatas" on Drycastle Records in 2010. "The Legend of the Holy Circle" is their second full-length disc, issued by Black Widow Records in 2013.
Analysis. In a world where it appears that there's a progressive rock band releasing material just about everywhere, exploring a distinct genre within this universe is something of a challenge even within a genre of music that covers such a vast amount of fairly different styles. While many manage to find a niche, not too many others have explored, finding a distinct sound and expression that create a unique sound that makes you say this has to be this or that band is difficult. Three Monks have managed to create such a trademark sound however, a distinct style, so unique that I can't directly state any band that explores something similar and one that instantly brings the band name Three Monks to mind when I hear it. This is mostly due to the outfit opting for the pipe organ as the central instrument, and especially due to the manner in which it is used. Three Monks specialize in powerful, majestic and fairly bombastic music, with bass and drums supporting the often dark, rich and dramatic pipe organ. The compositions tend to stay within a slow to mid-paced context, occasionally with pacier intermissions, and the pipe organ provides powerful majestic surges and dramatic impact bursts with or without a lighter, elegant melodic overlay first and foremost. Transitional phases with a more careful approach and intermissions building up from such a base to a more powerfully developed theme have their place of course, and occasionally the bass guitar or the drums will chime in with some elegant touches or more visible details too. But the organ is the star of the show and the main and dominating instrument throughout. Additional keyboards are used extensively as well this time around, first and foremost as providers of the finer details, alongside being a contrast to the more organic and powerful organ sound. When the two are combined we get some of the most moving movements on this production, combining organ and keyboards truly elevates some of the passages here to a higher level. But as fine an addition to the scope of this band is in terms of expanding the scope of the material explored, at the end of the day this is still an organ driven and dominated production, and one with a certain emphasis on the dark and dramatic aspects of this instrument. Church organ this may be, but we're most certainly not treated to religious hymns.
Conclusion. Dark, dramatic organ-driven music of the kind that wouldn't be amiss as the soundtrack of a vintage horror movie with an abandoned castle as the setting is what Three Monks present us on their second album "The Legend of the Holy Circle". In many ways a similar production to their debut album, but with an expanded scope and sound due to the inclusion of additional keyboards. Highly recommended to just about anyone with a soft spot for the church organ used as the main and dominating instrument in an instrumental, progressive rock context.
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