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(173:55 CD+DVD, MaRaCash Records)
Prolusion. The Italian band CONQUEROR was formed in 1994 by drummer and composer Natale Russo. Several line-up alterations came between the foundation and the release of their debut album "Istinto" in 2003, which has been something of an ongoing challenge for this band, from what I understand. So far they have five studio albums to their name, and also this latest production, the live CD/DVD "Un'Altra Verita" outing, which was released through the Italian label MaRaCash Records in 2015.
TRACKLIST: 1. Gina 11:12 2. Di Notte 7:25 3. False Idee 7:31 4. Un'altra Realta 6:28 5. Sigurta 9:37 6. Pensieri Fragili 7:48 7. No Photo 6:43 8. La Strada Del Gral 6:07 9. Cormorani 1:06 10. L'ora Del Parlare 6:58 LINEUP: Simona Rigano – vocals; keyboards Natale Russo – drums Ture Pagano – guitars Peppe Papa – bass With: Valerio Valentini – guitars
Analysis. Unlike many other Italian bands I have come across in recent years, Conqueror is a band that explores neither vintage-era eclectic progressive rock nor progressive metal. They appear instead to have a greater fascination with progressive rock of the kind that was popular in the early to mid ’80s, and then neo progressive rock in particular. Without limiting themselves to merely excursions within that framework, I should add, but this type of music appears to be something of a cornerstone in most compositions. The lead vocals are an important aspect of the sound of most bands, and in Simona Rigori Conqueror has an able vocalist who easily showcases that her abilities aren't merely the result of studio magic. As this is a live performance, everything isn't pitch perfect, but for someone, I presume, doesn't have music for a living, she gives a strong performance and does hold a professional standard. She's capable of injecting life and emotion with her vocals, adding a vibe and a nerve with her voice, and manages to do so without resorting to any flamboyant, melodramatic effects to accomplish this. A fine performance and a fine delivery in short, and she does have a pleasant and compelling voice that suits the material quite nicely, I must add. As for the music, those familiar with neo progressive rock will find a lot to please their tastes here. Plucked guitar details and floating keyboard textures are the key, and, most frequently, type of arrangements used, in a manner which is fairly similar in approach to what the first generation of neo progressive bands did, in this case arguably with something more of a traditional rock style to the bass and rhythm section at times. Atmospheric-laden, crying guitar solo runs are also a frequent and recurring feature. There's also room for darker sequences with a bit more of a Pink Floyd feel to them, however, as well as light and elegant sections that come across as closer to the likes of Camel. Vintage-style keyboard solo runs are another recurring feature, many of which gave me associations to late ’70s and early ’80s Eloy in the way they soared majestically. On a couple of occasions a more classic guitar riff and organ arrangement is taken on too, as is a token appearance of interludes that should sound more familiar to fans of early ’80s Rush. World music elements are used to good effect in certain sections, as are some subtly psychedelic details, but all of these slight style expansions and variations are minor details rather than dominating and defining traits of the music.
TRACKLIST: 1. Gina 2. Di Notte 3. False Idee 4. Un'altra Realta 5. Sigurta 6. Echi Di Verita 7. Pensieri Fragili 8. No Photo 9. La Strada Del Gral 10. Cormorani 11. L'ora Del Parlare Bonus material: Inside Conqueror (Interview with Simona, Natale and Ture) LINEUP: Same
Analysis. The live DVD part of this package is what I'd describe as a well-made budget production. The image quality is sharp and crisp, with good color balance, as one would expect from a concert taped by what, I presume, are digital cameras. There's a limited variety of cameras in action, with some fixed cameras and what looks like two handheld ones, giving us shots of the individual musicians as well as full band views. The different cameras are mixed well, so there are rare moments of inaction, but never a frantic switch between the different cameras either. The band isn't blessed with what I'd call a stage presence as such, though. They play and perform their material with what appears to be an obvious passion, albeit a bit inward focused. On stage band interactions and audience interaction are not featured to any obvious level, apart from the concluding phase after the concert is over. The audience as such is one we hear rather than see, one of those small details that may or may not be important for some. The quality of the audio recording is excellent, as is expected in this day and age, and while the lighting and backdrops used for the concert may be a bit minimalist in nature, they do suit the band and the material they perform rather well. The concluding half hour or so features an interview as bonus material, which gives us brief insights into the history of the band, with much focus being on certain aspects of the creation and reception of five full-length studio albums and one EP they had released at the time of the interview. Interesting but not essential, and the English-language translation included comes across as slightly stilted and awkward at times. There's also a French-language subtitled interview, as well as the whole interview in Italian and there without subtitles, I surmise.
Conclusion. As this is Conqueror's first ever live production, fans of the band have noted its availability and bought it already, I'd expect. For those not overly familiar with Conqueror, this production comes across as a good introduction and documentation for what the band is about. The DVD part may be mostly of interest to existing fans, of course, but even so, this is a good quality production, and one that, I suspect, will find favor among those who know and love ’80s neo progressive rock, Camel and Pink Floyd, and, naturally enough, in particular those who like all of them.
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