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Antonius Rex: Hystero Demonopathy

I've been fortunate enough to encounter a fair number of the recent releases from Italian Progressive label Black Widow, discovering the overall standard of the varied output to be impressively high. However with Hystero Demonopathy from Antonius Rex, I have to say that we are moving into a different league altogether, for this album is a stunning triumph.

The combination of spoken word, choirs, concepts (I presume it is a conceptual piece, a large proportion of the sparse lyrics are in Italian or Latin) and Prog Metal is hardly a new one and indeed a theme becoming increasingly popular. However the sheer poise and believability of the atmosphere built up across Hystero Demonopathy is one seldom matched, becoming an encapsulating experience of moods, textures and story.

Things begin with swirling winds setting scenes as ominous washes of synths begin to build and echoing beats add to the drama. Spooky church organ then takes over before foreboding voices both boom and whisper, revealing one of the strongest aspects of this album. For while much of the "spoken" word sections are in a language I don't understand although English is also employed in places the manner in which they are delivered and placed in the music is nothing short of spectacular. Within the first few minutes of this album you're immediately drawn in to a world of threat, violence and mythology, all the while the synths steadily creating ever more "visual" sounds. Initially the feel is of an expansive keyboard instrumental album, before suddenly a searing guitar solo closes out the opening title track in serious style. "Suicide Goth" continues the theme, gentle keys interspersed with electro beats (although the acoustic drums courtesy of guest drummer Florian Gorman are tremendous), demonic voices and layers and layers of voices, making for a contradiction of beauty and threat. However "Are Mine" turns everything on its head, the gentle acoustic guitar and church organ intro giving way to an almost Industrial, Progressive slab of riffage that simply comes so far out of left field that it knocks you sideways. Add to that the repetition of the demoniacally delivered "You are mine, you are mine, you are mine" and the theatrical themes of the early tracks is simply ramped up beyond belief. Yet the effect is only heightened by the sounds of fear and pain a female voice screams, moans and shouts across the whole amalgam of sounds.
Comparing the music created here is difficult, for while I can't hand on heart tell you that Antonius Rex are blazing new trails, I can express that they don't sound exactly like any one other band. Think Dream Theater doing an instrumental album where poise is more important than technique and add in the cinematic grandiosity of Saracen's Vox In Excelso album and you'll be close to the fantastic blend of conceptually driven Progressive Metal and melodic bombast on display here.

The moods and atmospheres continually swing across the album, taking you on a journey partly driven by engaging, cleverly executed spoken sections, yet hammered home through stunningly eclectic, yet cohesive music that is every bit as captivating. "Disincantation" ambles like Vangelis jamming with Mark Knopfler, yet still manages to brood and brim with purpose, unsurprisingly "Demonic Hysteria" unsettles by smashing echoing drums into vocal chanting, bells tolling, anguished screams, chiming piano and mighty crashes of guitar and drums. Impressively the intensity never lets up and the standard with which it is executed never slips, and really I could write a review on just about each and every one of the nine songs this album contains.

Every now and again a Progressive Metal album appears which thoroughly reinvigorates my enthusiasm for a genre that is often rightly accused of being crammed with clones and "safe options". Hystero Demonopathy is one of those albums. For while I have used Dream Theater as a "touching point", that's all it is, you could not confuse this for DT in any way. My hat goes off to Antonio Bartoccetti (vocals, guitar, bass), Rexanthony (vocals, piano, synth, digital drums, digital orchestra) and Monika Tasnad (medium) as well as their guests, Laura Haslam, Vladimir Leonard and Svetlana Serduchka on vocals, and not forgetting the aforementioned Florian Gorman (drums). For what they have created here is engaging on every level and a complete success in a way that very few albums can ever hope to be.

Track Listing
1. Hystero Demonopathy
2. Suicide Goth
3. Are Mine
4. Disincantation
5. Demonic Hysteria
6. The Devils Nightmare
7. Witches
8. The Fatal Letter
9. Possaction (Integral Document)
Video Track
10. Rexample (Vocals Soloist & Riffs Pt.1)

Added: May 24th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Antonius Rex online
Hits: 1950
Language: english

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