I love Italian symphonic prog, so can you imagine how glad I was when I received Of Fate And Glory for review - an album released by The Rome Pro(g)ject? I was even more interested because I wanted to hear it, but hadn't had the opportunity yet to listen to their first album from 2013. There is something special about this particular branch of the progressive community. Italian bands often manage to capture lush symphonics together with warm theatrical vocals and classical (and other) influences in a way that you rarely find with other bands.
Well, no vocals here, except for a female narrator in the introduction (which turns out to be Joanna 'Jo' Lehmann Hackett!), mentioning some characteristics of Roman history, like the twins and the wolf. The Rome Pro(g)ject is very much an initiative of keyboard player Vincenzo Ricca and it's his array of instruments that clearly dominates the album - in a very positive way. If you are a fan of symphonic keyboard dominated prog, stop reading now and get the disc.
Vincenzo may be the main man, but he is assisted by a very able cast on the disc that deliver some mouth watering contributions too. On this album we find Steve Hackett (electric and classical guitars), David Jackson (VDGG, on saxophones and flutes), Billy Sherwood (bass, drums and electric guitar), Mauro Montobbio (of Narrow Pass, on even more keyboards and synths), Luca Grosso (also of Narrow Pass, playing drums and percussion), Riccardo Romano (Ranestrane on keyboards and backing vocals), Daniele Pomo (guitar player from Ranestrane), Franck Carducci (bass, 12-string guitar) and guitar player Paolo Ricca.
Singling out particular tracks is a bit meaningless, I think, because the album essentially is one flow of fabulous key-drenched sympho where especially electric guitars at times place soaring marks between the (often vintage) keyboard sounds. Is the sound original? Hardly. I hear references to various Italian bands, and I'm pretty sure that also big English names like Genesis have left their traces.
If I would be forced to pick favourites, I think I would go for Ovid's Ars Amatoria with some fine flute and forward-driving keys that pay tribute to both Tony Banks and Rick Wakeman, or the album's longest piece Seven Hills And A River (cool organ). But basically this is an album without real weaknesses. Enjoy. I did.
Are you still reading? Why don't you rather listen?
****- Carsten Busch (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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