Italian duo Antonius Rex was founded by guitarist and philosopher Antonio Bartoccetti and sound engineer Doris Norton. They make progressive rock indeed, but one of a very special kind. The international critics consider Antonius Rex as ‘the most authoritative band of the deeper dark metal sound’. The band released their debut album back in 1974. Per Viam is their eighth album so far.
All tracks have a subtitle to explain the theme of the song. The first track Micro Demons begins with howling sounds reminding me of the typical Italian horror movies made by Dario Argento. After one minute, you hear a short heavy guitar riff accompanied by a church organ. The song ends with a threatening choir of monks just repeating the word demons... This first short song is typical for the rest of the album. The second track Per Viam has even more interesting musical ideas. Many dark soundscapes gave me the illusion to be part of a dark movie. I could imagine a scene in which unknown opponents pursue someone … The song ends with a short guitar solo followed by a synthesizer solo. Woman Of The King begins as a ballad with nice piano playing. In the middle section, you hear Italian voices talking about death and mortality ending with a beautiful combination of progressive and avant-garde rock. Spectra is a collage of several completely different guitar riffs, rolling drums and a laughing girl ending with a guitar solo in heavy metal style. After listening to four dark tracks, I was pleased to hear some differences in the next track. Angels & Demons resembles the music of the German/English band Enigma with a bluesy Eric Clapton -like guitar solo in the middle. Doris Norton sings on U.F.D.E.M., a remake of the original version from 1972, and the first track with Italian versus and choruses. It contains Eddy van Halen -like guitar eruptions and a synthesizer solo as well. The last and the longest track Antonius Rex Prophecy has a much too long spoken text that explains the several styles used in the previous tracks. I badly needed the guitar solo in the end...
If you like experimental film music, this album could be a good choice, but don’t expect prog music with a lot of variation.
***+ Cor Smeets (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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