The Italian band L'Impero Delle Ombre - meaning 'the empire of the shadows' - would like to describe their musical style as 'cemetery rock'. The core members of this band are two brothers: Giovanni Cardellino (vocals, percussion) and Andrea Cardellino (electric and acoustic guitars). In 2010 the band released their long awaited second album I Compagni Di Baal, which is a real concept album. The band got inspired by the French TV-series Les Compagnons De Baal which was broadcast on the Italian TV at the end of sixties. They released their eponymous debut album in 2004 and shortly after the band began to work on this album. I can't remember that I've watched this TV-series on the Dutch TV, so sadly I can't tell about the contents of this series.
According to the comic paintings in the booklet it must have been a rather occult series very close to science fiction. In the booklet you can read both the Italian lyrics and the English translation as well. The musicians who recorded the soundtrack for this concept are also mentioned. For me, the most striking is the equipment keyboard player Oleg Smirnoff used: the Hammond B3 organ, MiniMoog, Mellotron II and a Kurzweil K2000. Thus I expected the album to have a retro sound with influences from bands as Yes, Genesis and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Unfortunately this isn't the case. Of course the aforementioned keyboards are certainly present in the music, but they don't have a leading role that often. Instead the electric guitars dominate the music which is one of the reasons that the music moves towards a musical style recognizable by seventies bands as Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. The record company labels their musical style as 'hard prog'. Well, in a way that's true, because both elements of hard rock and progressive rock are present in their music.
Not all tracks contain the same high level of music, but overall I got a good feeling after listening to this album. Most tracks are up-tempo except for the short piece Tutti I Colori Del Buio (Final). This is a rather short and mellow acoustic piece. The CD-version of the album contains the bonus track Snowblind. This song has typical Black Sabbath-like vocals and guitar riffs. The Moog-synthesizer and the electric guitar solo at the end of this piece give the album a pleasant ending. Unfortunately this bonus isn't available for people who buy the vinyl record.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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