Qirsh -
Aspera Tempora Part 1

(CD, 2020, 49:09, Lizard Records)

The tracks:
  1- Rumors(17:51)
  2- Aer Gravis(6:42)
  3- Quel Momento(6:17)
  4- Hurt(2:56)
  5- Anansi(3:02)
  6- Oremus(12:21)

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This is the third album from Italian band Qirsh, formed in Savona in 1992. The band describes Aspera Tempora as a prog-rock concept album, which explores the theme of the fears of man.

Opener Rumours begins with a huge driving beat over which whispers, laughter and other sound effects can be heard. The longest track on the album, it packs a lot in, but it all feels rather one-dimensional, the guitars sounding tinny over the relentless beat. Wailing sirens towards the end fail to lift it to another level.
Aer Gravis is a more vocally centred, up tempo song, the voices blending well over the frantic synthesisers. The track notches up a gear as the voices get higher, more proggy effects are added, followed by a rather limp guitar passage, after which it reverts to a more leisurely, sombre pace.
The continued strumming of an acoustic guitar starts Quel Memento, leading to a rather clumsy piano passage, the guitar then returning, over which come the vocals that sound strained and discordant. Hurt is short and dense, led by more driving rhythms and zippy synthesisers. Anansi combines tribal-like rhythms with a symphonic groove.
With a sustained one beat rhythm, organ and guitars cascade. These offer a powerful opening to Oremus after which a muted vocal section is introduced. There is a sudden change of tempo when vocals are sung at break-neck speed before it returns to the sombre beat. After that, it gets very messy and the vocal harmonies make for uncomfortable listening, especially when there are deliberate voices of anguish in the mix. The closing repetitive passage simply piles on the discomfort further.

For all the ambition and sincerity shown on this album while exploring its chosen subject, it is not an easy listen, especially the voices and vocal harmonies.

** Alison Reijman

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