VIII Strada are an Italian five piece I had never heard of until I got this album to review. A little research showed that they are classified as progressive metal. Surprising, given that the line-up features a piano. Very likely, this classification is based on their older works, because although this album still contains traces of heavy metal, for the most part it is filled with other chemical, errrmmm, musical elements. The band seems to mix their old metal roots with classical style piano and melodic guitar rock, which leads to a very eclectic collection of music on this album.
The opener Ombre Cinesi shows the band's metal roots after an almost psychedelic opening, while for example the instrumental track Deguello develops from a classical piano piece into a melodic guitar rock tune. The vocals of Titto Vizzuso are not overly dramatic, like with some other Italian bands, and really fit in with the music instead of overpowering it.
As often is the case, the title track is the master piece of the album, in this case a 10 minute long track that moves us through all the styles the band is mixing, with beautiful melodies and powerful vocals.
Another outstanding track is the, largely but not entirely, instrumental Slow with some wonderful fretless bass work by Sergio Merlino, but also show casing the piano skills of Silvano Negrinelli and the guitar melodies of Davide Zaglani. In writing these names, I realize that the one flaw of this album may be the mix, which often hides the drums of Ricardo Preda behind the other instruments.
All in all, a very solid album, that may need a pre-listen by those who expect a metal album based on earlier encounters with this band. For all others, definitely one to look into - a very nice eclectic prog album, that in a few places reminded me of a band I reviewed years ago, I Pennelli Di Vermeer, who mixed rock, classical and ska - where VIII Strada does the same with rock, classical and metal.
**** Angelo Hulshout (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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