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Røsenkreütz: Divide Et Imperia

The goal of Italian studio project Røsenkreütz according to mastermind and multi-instrumentalist Fabio Serra is to bridge the gap between the golden years of British prog rock and a more modern sound. On this, his second album under the Røsenkreütz moniker, Et Imperia, he's done a pretty bang up job of achieving that.

Serra is a longtime veteran of the music industry, with over 25 years logged as an instrumentalist and producer, and it shows. This is one impeccably produced album, with crystal clear acoustic guitars, rich bass, and all the sci-fi influenced keyboard work you can shake a stick at. All instruments are played with the high degree of professionalism you'd expect from a veteran like Serra and his crack team of session musicians. So, from a technical standpoint you have a rock solid foundation to build upon.

Musically, this really is a love letter to the British prog rock traditions of old, with several added layers of sheen and gloss to help bridge the divide to the 2020s. This added modernity gives the music more edge and even a touch of heaviness at times, which a fan of newer music in the prog sphere will appreciate. There's smatterings of double kick drums, such as in the track "Imaginary Friend", and the electric guitars are noticeably more gain-rich and distorted than anything you'd hear from Genesis or Yes. Dream Theater this is not, but I think it helps a lot with the dynamics of the record.

There's certainly a lot of variety and eclecticness on display on Divide Et Imperia, which you'd expect from a project taking influences from the prog legends of yore. Songs such as album opener "Free-fall" club you over the head with synthesizer space rock vibes and on the very next track "Imaginary Friend" we're treated to Serra's very impressive rendition of what a heavy metal version of Kansas would sound like, complete with violin. There's slower, more somber numbers ("Aurelia") and even a track that tries it's best to be a classic rock radio hit ("True Lies"). The highlight for me personally though, is the closing (and longest, because of course it is) track "The Collector". It storms right out of the gate like no other track on Divide Et Imperia, and if there was a track to get your best friend who's hella into John Petrucci on the Røsenkreütz express, this is the one. A bit of everything the group has to offer is on display here, and the vocal performances in particular are very well done and impressive.

There's always an underlying listenability about the whole package, and while this is undeniably complex music by most rock standards, it's not the crazy note-dense warp speed barrage of changing time signatures and polyrhythms that most come to expect from the genre in current times. Almost every song is also of digestible length, and the only truly lengthy track is so good you won't even notice the 15 minutes slip by. These are all still songs first and foremost, and harken back to the era when you could actually hear Kansas and Yes on the radio regularly. The modern touches and technical wizardry that 50 years of musical progress can deliver really allow Divide Et Imperia to be more than worship music of a bygone era and allows it to stand on it's own two feet and deliver a listening experience that you should absolutely look into if prog rock of any stripe is in your wheelhouse.

1. Freefall
2. Imaginary Friend
3. The Candle in the Glass
4. I Know, I Know
5. Aurelia
6. True Lies
7. Sorry And
8. The Collector

Added: September 11th 2021
Reviewer: Brandon Miles
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 412
Language: english

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