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Syndone - 2016 - "Eros and Thanatos"

(52:41, Altrock/Fading Records)


1 Frammento 1:02
2 Area 51 3:07
3 Terra che Brucia 5:26
4 Gli Spiriti dei Campi 5:27
5 Qinah 6:10
6 Duro Come la Morte 5:54
7 Alla Sinistra del Mio Petto 3:08
8 Fahra 3:19
9 L'urlo Nelle Ossa 7:15
10 Bambole Remake 4:15
11 Sotto un Cielo di Fuoco 7:38 


Nick Comoglio – organ, keyboards, orchestration
Riccardo Ruggeri - vocals, vocoder; guitars
Martino Malacrida – drums, percussion
Maurino Dellacqua – bass 
Gigi Rivetti – piano, Hammond, Moog, clavinet
Marta Caldara – vibraphone; piano, Mellotron
Steve Hackett – guitars 
Ray Thomas – flute 

Prolusion. The Italian project SYNDONE was formed by composer and keyboardist Nik Comoglio back in 1987, but took an extended break following two initial album releases in the early ‘90s. From 2010 and onward this project has been a going venture again however, releasing a new studio album every other year or thereabouts. "Eros & Thanatos" is the most recent album by the project, released in 2016 by the Italian label Altrock Records’ Fading imprint.

Analysis. A defining trait about most albums made by Syndone is the lack of guitars or, to be more precise, the lack of electric guitars. This is a project that revolves rather heavily around the use of keyboards of various kinds, from careful piano details to full-fledged layered and powerful arrangements complete with orchestration-oriented themes. What, in other words, most people would describe as symphonic progressive rock. As with all the Syndone albums I have encountered so far, there's a lot going on here. The effects-treated a cappela Frammento is probably the simplest creation here, a brief and odd-sounding atmospheric prolog with a certain eerie hypnotic quality, although the remade version of Bambole, with its almost pop music style chorus section, also comes across as something of a deviation from the norm here. Otherwise the compositions revolve around certain key elements, where an ebb and flow motion to the intensity of the landscapes explored is something of a recurring trait. Delicate passages with one or few instruments in sparse arrangements, that include vocals at times, are frequent, both as the opening parts of the songs as well as for one or more interludes appearing as the composition develops. Just as frequent are richly layered, majestic and powerful arrangements with and without expressive, emotional lead vocals in dramatic harmony with the instrumentation used, at times with orchestral arrangements adding a further dimension of majestic grandeur. Some detours do appear here and there too, like the more world music-oriented Farha, and somewhat more frequent is the inclusion of interludes or sections where the compositions segue over to more of a jazz-oriented direction. Something of a defining trait throughout is the use of theatrical, dramatic displays from both vocals and instruments, a feature not uncommon among Italian symphonic progressive rock bands, and one explored in a good and effective manner on this album where vocalist Ruggeri merits a special mention for managing to restrain his vocals to be just on the right side of becoming rather too dramatic. Also of interest to a few may be the guest appearance of a certain Steve Hackett, providing a nice and effective guitar solo on concluding track Sotto un Cielo di Fuoco. This final composition also contains a 90-second long hidden track at the very end, which appears after a 40 second period of silence.

Conclusion. Those fond of well made symphonic progressive rock of the keyboards dominated variety should find this latest album by Syndone to be well worth checking out. A certain taste for the Italian variety of the style, complete with theatrical vocals and dramatic effects, is most likely needed to get the most out of the album, but in this case these aspects aren't explored to any greater extreme and as such won't limit the overall appeal of this recording to any great extent.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: February 16, 2016
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Altrock Records


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