In the summer of 2011, a young man was shot in Tottenham. This led to five days of riots and looting in London and other English places, and a lot of discussion on the current state of affairs in the western world. This event was the last trigger for Matteo Bevilacqua (lead and backing vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, bas, piano, synths), bass player of British metal band Diaries Of A Hero to finally create his debut solo album. The result is The Lost Generation, released in July 2014, which is a musical translation of Matteo's feelings concerning today's world - a world of which he writes in the liner notes: 'a world I feel part of, not victim of'.
That is a positive message, with a musical piece of work that is at times dark and gloomy. An album, that according to the press release is influenced by the likes of Pain Of Salvation, Opeth, Anathema and Porcupine Tree. Yet, if you expect metal based on this and on Matteo's background, you'll be disappointed. It is more the atmospheric, progressive rock work of these bands that can be found in the music of The Lost Generation - band and album carry the same name. If I had been involved, I might have added another name to that press release - The Gathering, mainly because the voice of Matteo's companion on vocals Lucia Emmanueli sounds a lot like Anneke van Giersbergen at times.
Musically, there is a lot to be found on this album. Tracks like Lost Generation, Drawn To You start out in almost singer/songwriter style with acoustic guitar, but develop into solid rock tracks quickly. Midsummer 's Hell (with news snippets from the 2011 riots included) and Wishful Thinking/A New Found Generation rely more on synth effects and slow beats to build an atmosphere - dark in case of Midsummer's Hell, lighter in Wishful Thinking.
Pagan Ache is a dark track, with spoken vocals by Matteo, answered by Lucia in a voice that reminds vaguely of Kate Bush. Pity the darkness doesn't result in a climax - instead, the track ends with a short acoustic guitar and vocal piece.
A small surprise is Touch Of Simplicity, which has an Americana feel to it, almost rock 'n roll even... Love it, or hate it.
Easily the best, and most complicated track of the album is Blank Mind Over Black Fields (now why does that title remind me of Porcupine Tree?). After an acoustic guitar opening and a few verses, two acoustic guitars seem to battle - creating a hard to follow melody, until an electric guitar solo comes in, accompanied by a hacking guitar riff. The aggression builds up there, with a choir and a strong beat accompanying the lead vocals - which ask whether we live in a world of democracy or madness. Only at the end, things calm down, and Lucia ends the track in an angelic voice.
A short note concerning the art work, and specifically the band logo. All letters of The Lost Generation are fit into a single symbol, based on a circle contained in a square. This combines ' to square the circle' - solving a problem, with everything being connected (no lines end in the logo).
All in all, there's a lot to discover here, and The Lost Generation is a worthy debut album for Matteo Bevilacqua. Not perfect yet, but I hope he doesn't stop after one album - there is enough room in the world for one more metal multi-instrumentalist turning progressive rock genius.
***+ Angelo Hulshout (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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