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Ingranaggi Della Valle: In Hoc Signo

Even if you hadn't glanced at the band name at the top of this review, within seconds of hearing In Hoc Signo from Rome's Ingranaggi Della Valle, you'd know that they were Italian. For this is an act reviving the 70s Symphonic Prog with which many acts from that country made a strong mark many years ago. There's no doubt that they do it well.

Singer Igor Leone keeps everything in his native tongue and it proves an astute move with each note sounding comfortable and in control, even when the words are delivered at pace and with a mighty passion. The album itself is a conceptual piece and while the liner notes in the CD book go to great pains to explain what the tale told isn't about, oddly it is less forthcoming about what it is actually meant to mean. However the Crusades comes into it all, but then so does the forming of "moral social conscience" and a suggestion that something far more in the here and now is never far away either.

Musically everything is far more focused, with violin, sax and flute backing the more expected guitars, bass, drums and an array of vintage keyboard instruments. Unsurprisingly the results are authentically retro in flavour, yet there are no knowing winks, or ironic smiles at the days gone by sound created, instead this album (other than a sharp production) could genuinely have come from many decades ago.

Alongside the Symphonic Prog, a gently avant-garde side is hinted at, Folk Rock alluded to and a Jazzy, Funky undertone allowed to break free from time to time. This leaves the likes of "L'Assedio Di Antiochia" to romp along full of life, while also gently easing on the brakes and giving room to clean guitars, bare vocals and plaintive violin. The more Jazz side of things bounds through piano and staccato strikes of guitar on "Kairuv' An", while beautiful, yet off kilter keyboards, whether they be Mellotron, MiniMoog, Elka Synthex, or Fender Rhodes Mk II to dominate throughout "Jangala Mem". Guests come and go across the album providing everything from electric bass to classical guitar and "Indian Mystic Speech". However those of most note arrive in the shape of Mattias Olsson from Anglagard (drums, percussion, synths and weird noises), David Jackson of Van Der Graaf Generator (flute and sax) and Angelica Sauprel Scutti (backing vocals), although thankfully none of the three over dominate on their chosen tracks.

Especially for a debut effort, which In Hoc Signo is, what Ingranaggi Della Valle have achieved here is really pretty impressive and it's virtually impossible not to recommend this album to those who revel in the styles in which this band specialise.

Track Listing
1. Introduzione
2. Cavalcata
3. Mare In Tempesta
4. Via Egnatia
5. L'Assedio Di Antiochia
6. Fuga Da Amman
7. Kairuv'an
8. Masqat
9. Jangala Mem
10. Il Vento Del Tempo
11. Finale

Added: January 18th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Ingranaggi Della Valle Online
Hits: 1674
Language: english

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