In 2000 Verona was the place where the band Real Illusion came to life, with founders guitarist Luca Pegoraro and keyboard player Stefano Negro at the helm. It took until 2008 before the duo recruited Manuel Fabi as the ideal vocalist for their band and two years later the band was completed when bass player Luigi Di Carlo and drummer Marco Beso closed the ranks. As a quintet the band started working on their debut album; Impheria, which was released this year.
Musically Real Illusion stands for a solid combination of good old-fashioned melodic hard rock with progressive rock elements. In a way this Italian album has a kind of German feel to it; dead solid, powerful and straight forward. Opener Real Illusion surprises me with a smooth emotional vocal part right at the beginning, Mariusz Duda and Riverside comes to mind in this brief moment. When the soaring keyboard and double bass drumming kicks in the song changes to a more traditional composition, filled with a nice guitar and keyboard battle; Deep Purple style. When we go on, the eighties hard rock feeling stays with Master Of The Twilight, a song that blends bombast and adds the typical, perhaps a bit dated guitar sound of the area, but still manages to lift the composition to the present. Both Wandering as well as the following Another Day Another Stone and also the song My Faded Angel are nicely built songs, growing from a smooth opening to an energetic, powerful end filled with tons of great guitar soloing and fine keyboard parts. Straight back in time is the guitar riff that leads in Out Of My Life, this song would have been fantastic twenty-five to thirty years ago. It is the incredible catchiness of the vocal melodies that lifts this song over the point for being a bunch of Yngwie Malmsteen aficionados, trying to catch up with the former guitar god. Jessica Passilongo contributes to the more progressive rock song; Living After Death. The combination of those voices does work very well and although she has minor hiccups in her vocal part, the outcome is a (too) short interesting composition. Burning combines good old Deep Purple keyboards with a Scorpions guitar style. Dated, moderate, but brought well. The last composition of the album; Impheria brings it all together; bombast, progressiveness, great soloing of keyboards as well as amazing guitar parts. For me this over ten minutes clocking composition is the absolute highlight of the album, the one that can be seen as the perfect blend of the good old eighties we were talking about and strong progressive rock parts, played rock solid.
In the end, Impheria is a steady album and suited for fans that have lived in the eighties, or those who think that was the most interesting period, musically. But I would also recommend the album to the progressive rock fan, who loves strong keyboard and guitar solos, topped with a very agreeable voice. Recommendable songs are Living After Death and the killer Impheria. Cranking up the volume would also be a good suggestion.
***+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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