An RPI rock opera penned by Nicola Randone after he stumbled upon some kind of local history (or legend). The “suite” contains a series of interconnected pieces with many, many themes and styles used to tell the story.

1. “Preludio (Hybla)” (2:27) (4.5/5)

2. “Guardia alle mura” (1:30) fast-paced gorse race guitars. (4.5/5)

3. “Guerra Agli Invasori” (1:06) Norse-like sea shanty feel to it. Fun and different. (4.5/5)

4. “La resa” (1:06) smooth, beautiful music over which operatic female vocalise and metal (and jazz) guitars solo. Impressive! (4.75/5)

5. “Le invasioni” (1:23) (4.25/5)

6. “La regina di Cipro” (2:30) female singing in English over similar music to “La resa”–then joined by antiphonal male repeater and then Russian basso profundo. (4.5/5)

7. “Infuria la battaglia” (2:16) great male operatic vocal over heavy prog (4.75/5)

8. “Enrico VI e la corona di ferro” (1:23) more rock opera action. (4.5/5)

9. “Veglia funebre per il conte Guglielmo” (2:01) a bit of a MAGMA feel to this one. Nice lead guitar play. And Jew’s harp! (4.5/5)

10. “La principessa triste” (4:19) more gentle palette with picked 12-string guitar, Mellotron, delicately sung male vocal. Gets heavier and more theatric in the second minute. Another big shift at 2:20–all instruments go soaring– before coming back to acoustic foundations for the final minute and a quarter. (9/10)

11. “Manfredi Chiaramonte” (2:50) carries forward the more acoustically founded palette from the previous song, letting violin and harpsichord take the leads above harmonized voice choir vocalise and synths. This all twists and turns until it becomes a kind of parade-like march for its final minute. (8.75/10)

12. “Ballata in onore cel conte” (1:38) using some kind of folk melody, the music takes on a more cheerful, flippant path before a seering electric guitar solo splits the Sgt. Pepper’s Hearts Club Band-like song. (4.25/5)

13. “Un genitore afflitto” (0:36)

14. “Giovanni Chiaramonte” (1:07) back to more aggressive Hammond and Martin Barre-like guitar rhythm sound & style with rough vocals and violin soloing. (4.25/5)

15. “Giovinastro e Lucsia” (1:47) smooths out with Mellotron and more smooth vocals (lead and choral). (4.25/5)

16. “Simone Chiaramonte” (1:08) up and down instrumental (4.25/5)

17. “La solitudine di Venezia” (3:40) opens with a theme familiar to me from La Coscienzo di Zeno songs, and then some Felona e Sorona themes. When the two-voiced vocal enters, the music shifts to a more RUSH-rock palette. (8.5/10)

18. “La Fine Dei Chiaramonte” (3:51) a party-like radioplay takes place over some steady music before switching to previously explored styles (one with a Paganini-like guitar solo, the other two slower in the LCdZeno fashion). (8.75/10)

19. “Rimpianti” (1:40) uses the music from the previous song to segue into a simple but effective male tenor aria. Nice. Powerful and beautiful. (4.75/5)

20. “Bernardo Cabrera” (1:31) opens with a pop sensibility. When the male vocalist and violin enter in tandem, the storytelling continues, being taken over by female vocalist and synth before just as quickly turning into a kind of Flamenco display. (4.75/5)

21. “Cospirazione contro i giudei” (1:13) instrumental hard rock similar to Trans Siberian Orchestra with violin lead shifts suddenly to a soft, emotional minor key. (4.25/5)

22. “La caccia” (4:39) takes on a STEREOLAB/TALKING HEADS-like palette and style before morphing into more standard “horn”-led RPI and then heavy RPI styles. Vocals enter around the halfway mark leading into another kind of wild party section before the music goes BANCO beneath a soloing saxophone for a bit before turning a sharp left into a short andante 4/4 song with a RICHARD WRIGHT-like saw-horn solo over the top. (8.75/10)

23. “Gian Battista Odierna” (3:53) andante continues with another PF tactic (echo- and decaying snare hits) over which high-pitch male voice sings in operatic style. Collective voices bridge into another MARTIN BARRE-like section over which several vocal stylings pass. (9/10)

24. “Il terremoto” (2:49) sounds like something from ALFONSO XII’s contribution to Odyssey: The Greatest Tale. (8.5/10)

25. “Epilogo (crevit Ragusia Hyblaeruinis)” (0:42) an emotional little piano finale.

Total time 53:05

I must admit that if I knew more about the story being told here, it might make some impression on my final judgment. But, as you all know, language and lyrics are not my strong suits in music, so, here you have it.

I know it is unfair of me to use more recent musical examples for references, but my reactions can’t help but be based on the totality of my listening experiences. La Coscienza di Zeno must have heard Randone’s music.

I really like the way the electric guitars and synths are mixed so far forward and, thus, given a more prominent and crystal clear sound–not unlike Al Di Meola and Chick Corea on the Return to Forever albums. The theatric format with its frequent twists and turns (too frequent) is fun–and very well arranged and orchestrated–but some of the cycles become too predictive and, thus, wearing over the course of the whole album.

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of theatric storytelling within the heavier and more dynamic styles of Rock Progressivo Italiano.

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