Presence is an Italian band that has been around since the early 1990's and Evil Rose is their seventh album. They are a three-piece band with guest musicians filling out there line-up. Their style is dark symphonic with touches of prog metal. The sound on this album is mostly digital keyboards, guitar and female soprano vocals.
The first three tracks on the CD are part of a concept piece, an instrumental with many keyboard sounds building up to a soaring guitar solo. Singer Sophya Baccini shows her range on the second track. She ranges from soft mellow to operatic and even adds effects to her vocals sound a bit sinister. About three quarters through the song Sergio Casamassima plays a ripping guitar solo over Sophya vocals. That combination just gives me goose bumps. The third track is the title track of the CD and clocks in over 18 minutes. This track reminds me a bit of Dream Theater's Scenes from a Memory in the musical concept. There are many changes in tempo and dynamics, the use of pre-record vocal dialogue and sound effects, Enrico Iglio incorporates many different keyboard sounds into his playing this all adds to this musical concept. The next track is a slower piece that is based on a distorted plodding guitar riff. This riff is contrasted by strong flowing vocals and few nicely place ELPish sounding keyboard riffs. The fifth track is a dark sounding instrumental using many minor chords. Of the four remaining songs two are cover songs. The first is Queen's "The Prophet's Song" and the second is Rainbow's "Gates of Babylon". Presence does a very good job of applying their unique sound to these songs. Both songs are still recognizable but with Sophya's vocals the dynamics change (believe it or not she can reach higher notes than both Freddie and Ronnie) and the keyboard playing adds many different dimensions that the originals did not have. "No Reason Why" is a ballad that showcase Sophya's vocals, she has a very clear and powerful voice. She has the ability to convey the passion of the song to the listener that seems effortless that takes some skill. "Orphic" is the last song on the CD and really shows what the band can do. The track starts off with a slower tempo using only keyboards and vocals giving it a melancholic feeling. At about the three-minute point the whole band comes in and ups the tempo. The song keeps building to a bombastic climax that reminds me of the sound of a battle scene. This is followed by an uplifting sounding keyboard solo. Next Sergio plays a very fast guitar solo. Sophya responds to this with a wailing vocal passage that again shows the power of her voice. The song than slowly descends into a soft mellow part until the end. Overall the song sounds like a small movie score.
I have to admit that I am a fan of the band and that their album Black Opera is one of my all time favorites. Presence is a band of very talented musicians that push it but never over do it. For example Sergio will play a short screaming fast guitar part and then cut it off not to over due it, where some guitarists seem to want to play to show off. These musicians play for the songs. I do have one complaint about Evil Rose and that is the vocals are all in English. Let me explain: some of the lyrics just do not make sense or sound right to me. Given that English is not their first language this is understandable. I have heard Sophya Baccini sing in Italian and it just sounds amazing, she still does a very good job on this CD. So if you are looking for something symphonic and little dark this CD is a good choice. If you are fan of prog rock and are curious about prog metal take a small step with this CD. If you enjoy strong female vocals than try this CD. As you can tell I am recommending this CD.
3. Evil Rose
5. Funebre Dea
6. The Prophet's Song
7. No Reason Why
8. Gates of Babylon