This is the first album I have heard from this Italian group named after founder Nicola Randone. Ultreia is the first in a trilogy of albums. This was inspired by a trip through the Pyrenes mountains on the border of France and Spain. The band has been around since the early 2000s and I watched a concert from 2005 I believe the band posted on YouTube; it seems the Jew’s harp was always a part of the band’s sound. Nice addition, I like it. The music here is generally modern RPI stuff with some very metal guitars at times. Talking and nature sounds can be heard throughout the album. Maria Modica does the female vocals while Carmelo Corrado Caruso does male operatic vocals.
“Ultreia” opens the album with a preview of the traditional Argentine song “Soy peregrino.” One of the better tracks, some kind of symphonic prog with a shuffling beat. Symphonic prog metal during the ‘chorus’ part. “La cabra negra” starts off in prog metal territory before switching to folky symph prog when the vocals arrive. Very prog metal guitar soloing and drumming is followed by some cool synth sounds. “Il canto della vita” starts off very accessible and ballad- like before changing halfway to a more sombre sound with a flute solo and then a ripping guitar solo. Later male and female vocals alternate along with some cool choir sounds from the Mellotron.
“Mariposas” is an instrumental with narration at the beginning. One of the highlights of the album. Lots of variation in the playing. Features some great analogue synth soloing as well as some fast, intricate guitar playing. “Soy peregrino” is here performed symph metal style with the vocals done operatic. “So Close, So Far Away” has an English title but the majority of the lyrics are in Italian. Starts off as an acoustic guitar based ballad. Later changes to a fusion-y part with organ and synth before some metal guitars show up.
“Hasta la vista, Diego” is another highlight. Cool synth riff at one point. Some nice tuba(?) as well. Some vocals here but they are wordless. Nice piano at the end with a television in the background. For me the first half is stronger than the second half, but the best moments are found throughout the album. Recommended to those who enjoy modern RPI. I will give this a 3.5 rounded up to 4 stars.