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(48:57, Black Widow Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Stargate 2:58 2. Il Menestrello 1:12 3. L'antico Regno 3:28 4. Il Giullare 4:19 5. In-Faust-O Goblin 3:29 6. Il Canto delle Sirene 5:34 7. Rex Introduxit Puellam 2:27 8. Princelfa 3:40 9. L'unicorno Lucente 4:00 10. Tornano le Fate 6:15 11. Le Tre 3:52 12. An Ancient History 5:34 13. Saluto del Cantore 2:11 LINEUP: Tiziana Radis vocals; guitars, lutes; mallets Giancarlo Gabbanella guitars, bass Roby Tav keyboards With: Gianluca Bracciale drums Kristina Allram flutes Gianni Musy vocals Enio Nicolini bass
Prolusion. The Italian band SECRET TALES was formed in 2012 by Radis, Tav and Gabbanella, presumably as a direct result of the former two releasing the CD "The Secret Wood Tales" in 2010. "L'Antico Regno" is the debut album of this trio, and was released through the Italian label Black Widow Records in 2014.
Analysis. Secret Tales describes their brand of music as dark progressive rock, which is, I guess, a fitting enough description, and that they have named one of their songs In-Faust-O Goblin may indicate a possible source or two of inspiration as well. While my knowledge about Italian progressive rock is somewhat limited, my impression is that fans of German krautrock band Faust and Italian legends Goblin should probably dampen whatever initial associations they get from reading this opening paragraph however. What Secret Tales do on this occasion is, basically, alternates between three different types of music, and combining elements from them as well as exploring them in a more purebred manner. Music inspired by medieval folk music is one of those, with acoustic guitars, lute and lead vocals leading the way, while percussion and drums have more of a supplemental role. The second form is dark, atmospheric music featuring layered keyboards, with occasional supplemental details by way of flute, violin-like textures and sound effects, assembled in arrangements that do have a soundtrack-like quality to them. The third expression utilized is a darker one where the guitars dominate the proceedings by way of elongated guitar riffs, sometimes smooth and dampened and on other occasions with a richer and distinctly majestic sound. Besides a token metal-oriented run or two, this latter style comes across as something of a blend of Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath, with a certain emphasis on the former. Longing guitar soloing not light-years away from David Gilmour's escapades in that department strengthens that impression somewhat. The compositions tend to alternate between two of these main styles, occasionally all three are visited in some form or other too, while especially the shorter pieces tend to focus on a more purebred variety of one of them. Fairly often the elements from the different aspects of this band's repertoire are blended together as well, as mentioned, adding a darker rock sound to an otherwise folk-tinged sequence in some cases, but most of all by using keyboard arrangements of a more atmospheric nature to complement the folk inspired as well as the darker sounding guitar riff dominated parts. The mainstay element throughout are the vocals of Tiziana Radis, her distinct voice with occasional operatic-oriented delivery used for both lead and backing vocals, as far as the latter is concerned as non-verbal atmospheric vocals more often than not. At best, this is intriguing material too, and personally I was most fond of the compositions that featured different styles and where the threesome blended details from the different parts of their stylistic palette to a greater extent than when the band explored one of their main styles in a more purebred manner.
Conclusion. "L'Antico Regno" is a production that comes across as fairly accessible in nature, the alternating styles explored and combined all performed in a manner that should have a fairly broad overall appeal. A certain affection for darker atmospheres is needed to enjoy this production though, as well as a taste for both folk inspired and atmospheric oriented progressive rock. If you can subscribe to this, and you don't mind encountering dark-toned, distinct guitar riffs and semi-operatic female lead vocals in such a context, Secret Tales is most likely a band you will enjoy.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: June 14, 2014
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