The limitations of progressive rock music are very wide; in this genre almost everything is possible. The blending of different musical styles is usually enough to call it progressive. In the past, we could enjoy many mixtures of musical styles, but the material I heard on Madri Senza Terra (Mothers Without Land), the third album by the Italian band Abash, was completely new for me. This album contains a mixture of prog metal and Arabian and African musical influences. It has been done in a perfect way and I loved it at once. For people who are not familiar with Abash Iíll give some details about their background.
Abash was formed in October1998 and hails from Salento in the southern part of Italy. In search of their own musical identity they experimented with tribal rhythms, ethno, folk and rock music. In May 2000 they released their debut album Salentu E Africa ( Salento And Africa) independently. The second disc Spine E Melingue (Plugs And Gossips) came out in July 2004. The album was released by the RAI Trade-label which confirmed the successful sales of their debut album. Meanwhile they gave numerous concerts throughout Italy, while their music became available on many compilations. In 2006, they began to record their third album Madre Senza Terra. According to the band, the new songs are more mature both production wise and in sound and style. The album paved the way for their original musical style even during concerts. The success of this album allowed them to meet artists as PFM and Franz Cioccio during live performances. They even met Fish, the former singer of Marillion. Four years later Madre Senza Terra has been released again, but this time on a larger scale and by a bigger record company. Maybe this will bring the band international success. As far as Iím concerned Abash deserve international acclaim. Their music has many characteristics that might appeal to many people especially those with an open mind who like prog rock and are willing to listen to new, not quite common attributes in the genre.
When you start listening to Madri Senza Terra, you can immediately hear the beauty of their original musical style. The first forty seconds of the opening track youíll hear the voice of the incredibly female singer Anna Rita Lucťri together with the speaking voice of an African. The next track brings you back to the west, because of the pure progmetal sound in the vein of Dream Theater. The male lead vocals of bass player Maurillio Gigante gives the music an extra dimension. It reflects the western influences in particular. The third track has a fine African tribal beat that becomes very melodic as soon as the western guitar riffs join in. On the other hand itís awesome to hear the electric guitars playing African melodies. The short percussion intermezzo performed by Luciano Treggiar (percussions, flute, termine) and Paolo Colazzo (drums) is a great introduction to a fantastic guitar solo by Danielle Stefano. Next piece Madri is a fine ballad sung in the Italian language that reminded me of Mattia Bazar. With Antonella Ruggiero, they also have a great female singer in their line-up. The keyboard work on this track is fabulous as well. We hear a great synth solo by Luciano Toma followed by another outstanding solo on the electric guitar towards the end. More fantastic songs with a fine blend of prog metal and tribal rhythms follow. Also the other ballad Oltre is of a very high level. Again Anna has a leading role here while singing the beautiful Italian lyrics. The orchestral arrangements on this piece are not from this world. Even the flute parts add so much more to this song. The harmony vocals and the flute in the intro of Otrano 14 Agosto 1480 are just breathtaking. The more you listen to this album, the more impressed youíll become. These musicians really created something special. Itíll take a long time before itís getting out of my systemÖ
People who get interested by reading this review, I would like to advice to check out this album fast. On Abashís site you can watch several live videos, but you can watch artistic clips from their songs on YouTube as well. Iím sure you will be as much impressed as I was when I listened to this album for the first time. For me, Madre Senza Terra is the most impressive album of 2010 so far. No doubt about that.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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