Four years after their eponymous debut, this second album by the band (Medusa's kiss) is a wonderful Italian progressive Goth-opera - roughly translated the title is "Descent into hell of a young lover". Comparatively it lies somewhere between La Maschera di Cera and Universal Totem Orchestra with hints of Biglietto per L'Inferno and its equally as good as any of those fine fellow countrymen.
A desolate, windswept, landscape is evoked in the prelude by synthesiser which gives way to piano and violin supporting Simone Cecchini's dramatic but restrained tenor voice. The second part of the suite is most like La Maschera di Cera, borrowing, if I'm not mistaken, a melody from Locanda delle Fate. A very clever segue into the more edgy and nervous third track is achieved with organ and bass but the track then takes you by surprise by morphing into an Eastern European jig and then finishing on a flourishing, laughter-accompanied rock-out.
Track 4 takes us back to the melodrama of the album's concept with despairing spoken vocals, menacing bass motif and semitonal flute. In the following piece, "Ricordi", however, Eva Morelli's flute parts are more reminiscent of Ian Anderson and we're treated to a crashing organ solo that could have been done by Jon Lord while there are wild guitar solo spots for Simone Brozetti to add further colour to this vibrant section. Drum rolls pepper the flute composition at the start of "Nostalgia" which contains one of the most emotive vocal displays by Cecchini. Dark and light clash between flute, guitar and bass in spectacular style. Track seven even finds room for some sax in the blistering opening minute before it falls back to a wistful flute and delicate percussive interlude. Gradually a melody and stronger, 7/8 beat emerges with some bluesy laid back guitar licks. The song then fades back to a series of vocal and instrumental effects before roaring out of cover with a reeling symphonic discharge of guitar and organ, returning to an earlier bass figure to close the track.
The unmoored feeling of "Melencolio" is created with an appropriately acoustic guitar played with lots of reverb, accompanied by a lamenting flute and breathy vocal as the melody rocks gently like a ship deserted at sea. From here on the vocals are more or less complete. A wallowing sax leads the next, instrumental, piece with screaming electric guitar raising the tempo from the last 2 tracks. Daniel Rinchi's sweet violin makes a welcome return in track 10, which features several neat changes in tempo and style with the organ, drum fills and wah-wah guitar particularly impressive. There's a choral part to the gorgeous string and piano led penultimate composition which, played loud, has the tendency to bring tears to the eye whilst the closing epilogue reprises the recurrent theme.
This has to be up there with the best of the retro-Italian prog I've heard and gets my one and only award of 5 stars since I started reviewing for SoT. I can genuinely find no obvious way to improve it except to do another one.
1. Preludio: il trapasso
2. Confessione d'un amante
3. La bestia ed il delirio
4. Recitativo: e nel buio che risplendono le stelle
5. Ricordi del supplizio
6. Nostalgia, pentimento e rabbia
7. Sudorazione a freddo sotto il chiaro di luna
9. E fu allora che dalle fiamme mi sorprese una calda brezza celeste
10. Nosce te ipsum: la bestia ringhia in noi
11. Corale per messa da requiem
12. Epilogo: conclusione della discesa agl'inferi d'un giovane amante