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(77:32 / Black Widow Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Intro 1:56 2. Yet Another Battlefield 7:33 3. Clapper's Beatin' Fast 6:57 4. Dark Virgin 5:59 5. Olympia 4:04 6. Killer 8:25 7. As Nothing Had Changed 6:11 8. Dark Virgin II 4:23 9. Steep Path 5:21 10. It's Always the Same Thing 8:42 11. Springy 6:08 12. 21st Century Schizoid Man 7:36 13. Genius of Europe 6:39 LINEUP: Maurilio Rossi - vocals; bass, guitars; keyboards Gianni Rossi - guitars, bass Roberto Masini - guitars; violin Francesco Diddi - saxophone, flute; violin Paolo Carniani - drums & percussion G Paolo Zecchi - engineering
Prolusion. GOAD, from Italy, are in the running already for 25 years. According to the press kit, apart from a few tribute albums they have seven original studio releases to their credit, of which I've only heard two, "In the House of the Dark Shining Dreams" (the recording under review) and "The Wood", which was released only some ten months ago.
Analysis. As usual, Maurilio Rossi's keyboards include such vintage brand models as Hammond, Moog, Mellotron and Fender Rhodes, and it's still Rossi who penned all the music and lyrics for this, Goad's new album too. In sound, however, there is a considerable difference between it and its predecessor. This is not to say that the band's style as such has undergone major changes, but the music has become overall both much harder and darker. Gone are the elements of Jazz-Fusion, the quantity of episodes with many acoustic instruments at the fore has strongly diminished, and lastly the Genesis influence has in most cases given way to that of Van Der Graaf Generator (VDGG from now on) - although taken as a whole, this album appears to be noticeably more original than "The Wood". The first track and, at the same time, the only instrumental here, Intro, is a sketch which just perfectly reproduces the contrast between a serene and a threatening atmosphere, the former being represented by the flute and violin, and the latter by the guitar riffs, at times alongside the sounds of natural phenomena, such as thunder etc, as if preparing the listener for most of the subsequent events, where the fragility and the hardness often adjoin each other. The labyrinthine Yet Another Battlefield, which follows Intro, is probably the most diverse track here, but its emotional palette is much richer in sombre than in pastoral colors, even the classical-like church organ postlude sounding menacing. At the same time however, the music remains within the bounds of Symphonic Prog Rock even when at seems the hard guitar riffs are about to gain the upper hand over the other textures. The VDGG influence is potent, even though for the most part (minus some organ patterns, to be precise), it reveals itself only so to say aurally - in a general way, whilst Rossi's vocals are almost original here, as well as everywhere on this CD. Indeed, he has stopped imitating Peter Gabriel, and it's only due to his (at once theatrical and somewhat hysterical) way of singing that the names of both the former Genesis frontman and Peter Hammill from time to time come to mind, though those familiar with Slovenian band Devil Doll may also be reminded of Mr. Doctor's intonations. Springy, in turn, begins as Classical music, with lush orchestral arrangements covering Richard Wagner's Intro - Sigfried Death, otherwise developing much in the same vein as the previously examined composition. Stylistically, Dark Virgin and Olympia both should be taken as near relations of the said two, although these are somewhat poorer thematically. Nonetheless both are good in their own way, especially the former, which is designed in a really unique way: while being abundant in string pads, it has surprisingly a theatrical feeling - on all levels, throughout (not in the word's figurative meaning). What's perhaps even more curious is that Clapper's Beating Fast, As Nothing Has Changed and Steep Path, all contain some typically hard rock movements with no keyboards involved, but never sound as heavy as the pieces belonging exclusively to Symphonic Progressive, despite all their, well, said peculiarities. Dark Virgin-II and It's Always the Same Thing are both nearly as wonderful as Yet Another Battlefield and Springy. The music is very dark, perhaps even sinister, bringing to mind the thought that it's theatric symphonic Doom Metal, with some hints of both VDGG and Devil Doll, but without that exceptional intricacy which is typical of both those ensembles. As to the covers of King Crimson and VDGG's songs, 21st Century Man and Killer respectively, I find their inclusion in the disc to be unnecessary, to say the least, especially since the album as such is already very long by itself, lasting for more than an hour. Finally, I'd like to note that the drummer, still the same Paolo Carniani, is much more disciplined here, compared to his work in "The Wood", where he showed himself as a really mighty woodcutter.
Conclusion. While not without some flaws (many of which, though, can be written off considering the band's bravery when experimenting with new styles), this latest studio effort from Goad might please their old afficionados and get new fans for them as well.
VM: July 26, 2007
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