In 2011 I expressed my appreciation for the church organ in a review of the debut album by the Italian band Three Monks. On their album Neogothic Progressive Toccatas (see review) they created an original sound for which organist and composer Paolo Lazzeri principally was responsible. He was assisted by Maurizio Bozzi on bass guitar and by Roberto Bichi and Claudio Cuseri on drums. The leading role for the pipe organ on this album is rather unique in the progressive rock scene, although great musicians like Rick Wakeman, solo and with Yes, Thijs van Leer with Focus and Rick van der Linden, solo and with Trace and Ekseption, have pioneered with this musical instrument as well. However, I doubted whether the music was really played on a pipe organ or that Lazzeri used synthesizer samples as well.
In 2013 the band recorded the follow-up album called The Legend Of The Holy Circle. I was very curious to find out if the same sound could be heard on this second album. Well, the same musicians are responsible for the same kind of music. Still the 'neo-gothic' organ of Mr. Lazzeri can be heard, although this time the synthesizers have a leading role as well. However, you won't get the feeling that you're sitting in a church where somebody is continuously misusing the local pipe organ. The overall sound of this second album is more varied, so you won't get the feeling that you've heard it all before after two or three tracks.
The compositions have still been influenced by classical music from the neo-gothic style, the German Romanticism style of the nineteenth century and many Baroque composers. The seven tracks are certainly worthwhile listening to, especially the up-tempo parts and pieces. Those pieces will above all be loved by people who enjoy the music of acts like Ars Nova, Gerard, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and the aforementioned pioneers of the church organ.
Anyway, Legend Of The Holy Circle recorded by Three Monks is a fine album. If you like the music made by all the above-mentioned acts you'll be entertained throughout. The fact that they also used synthesizers next to the pipe organ was a wise decision; otherwise I'm afraid that sooner or later the original idea of playing prog rock on a church organ wouldn't work any longer...
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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