A black digipack, with a white and red drawing on the front, in the shape of a tree. The poison tree, L' Albero Del Veleno. This Italian band was founded by Claudio Miniati (drums) and Nadin Petricelle (piano, keyboards), with the goal of creating instrumental music inspired by horror movie soundtracks. After recording some unreleased soundtracks of Italian director Lucio Fulci with a 5-piece band, they extended to a sextet and started recording their own music. This led to the release of Le Radici Del Male (The roots of evil) - a title that matches the name of the band, as well as the source of inspiration they found in 60's-80's horror movies.
The line up of the band resembles that of a folk rock band, with besides the two founders, Lorenzo Picchi (guitar) and Andrea Andreucetti (bass), Fransesco Catoni (violin) and Marco Brenzini (flute). Nothing could be further from the truth though - the music of L'Albero Del Veleno has nothing to do with folk. It's much darker, rooted in movie soundtracks and sometimes bordering on classical music.
Dove Danzano le Streghe (Where the witches dance) is the opening track of the album, which immediately shows what we are dealing with. Dark synthesizer sounds, with a flute dancing over, joined briefly by the violin, leading swiftly into a wild witches dance, supported by heavy guitar, pumping bass and commanding drums. When all calms down again, the keyboards and drums lead us out of the forest, with the violin singing softly.
After this dance, ...E Resta Il Respire (The breath remains) starts with a keyboard piece in 6/8 accompanied by the flute and violin. When the drums and guitar join, the beat changes and the music becomes dark and haunting. After a slower part in the middle (keys and drums only) it speeds up again and the whole band performs a piece that is equally dark as the witches dance before, but very different in nature.
Prezenze Dal Passato (Precenses from the past), the third track on the album, is almost sweet compared to the rest of the tracks. A melancholic, almost classical piece, with only keyboards and violin.
After this break however, it is time for two much heavier and far from melancholic tracks. Un Altro Giorno D ie Terrore is almost a metal track, with the guitar taking the lead for a change instead of the keyboards or the violin. The combination of flute, violin and guitar is not new, but works really well. For this piece, a bonus video is included, which is also available on Youtube - a short horror movie. The music and video work well together, but may give an initial online listener the wrong impression. I played it for a friend, and she immediately thought this was a metal band in the vein of good old My Dying Bride. Wrong... but an appreciable track nevertheless, that still has its own quieter violin and flute led midsection.
The second (slightly less) heavy track is Due Anima Nella Notte (Two souls in the n ight), that starts with a series of staccato bass notes, and then gradually builds up to slow, haunting piece in which the staccato opening rhythm keeps returning.
After this, the grand finale of the album is entitled Al Di La' Del Sogno... L' Incubo Riaffora (After the dream, the nightmare comes back). Some searching on the web reveals that this 12 minute piece is actually a combination of four pieces based on music from films by the bands favourite movie director Lucio Fulci, and composer Fabio Frizzi. Everything that can be expected from a horror movie soundtrack is in there, I strongly recommend not playing this on headphones with the lights off on a dark stormy night ...
All in all, despite the fact that I needed a few listens to start appreciating the music, this is not a bad album. Quite a good one actually, and worth a listen for those who want to experience the ' soundtrack without the movie', or who are into dark symphonic Italian progressive rock in general. The fact that the album took a week and numerous spins to sink in, earns it an extra half point.
**** Angelo Hulshout (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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