Ad Maiora is a new progressive rock band hailing from Milan (Italy). They started in January 2009 and right from the start they tried to write and perform their own compositions, instead of copying that of their heroes. Whether they managed to write strong material, you can hear for yourself on their debut album Ad Maiora, which they released in 2014.
On their eponymous debut album you'll find almost seventy minutes of music. You might expect this could be an album far too long to listen to. However, this is certainly not the case., The ten strong compositions are all of a very high level and have enough variety to entertain you all the way. Most of the songs are instrumental pieces which sound rather laidback most of the time. The leading roles on these tracks are given to guitarist Flavio Carnovali and keyboard player Sergio Caleca. They have a good ear for playing tasteful and strong solos on their instruments. Thanks to those solos, the music of Ad Maiora most of the time moves in the direction of bands such as Camel, Focus and Pink Floyd. The rhythm section of the band consists of Enzo Giardina on drums and Moreno Piva on bass. They do their job rather good and most of all Moreno gets a chance to display his talents from time to time, not only by playing nice bass parts, but also performing on the classical guitar. A good example of this is the track Menate on which he duels with the other solo artists in the band. As I already told you, the band doesn't play instrumental songs exclusively. In Paolo Callioni they found a wonderful vocalist, who sounds a lot like Riverside's Mariusz Duda. This you can hear most of all on the tracks Eclissi Orientale, Strange and No More War. Because of those distinctive vocals, it's obvious those songs sound a lot like a Riverside composition. However, when you hear the band's cover of Summertime - an aria composed by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera Porgy And Bess - the comparison with this Polish band is almost completely gone. In this version, the band mixed blues with progressive rock very strongly.
The band not only sounds like Camel, Riverside, Focus and Pink Floyd from time to time, but also manages to include several influences taken from traditional Italian music into theirs. For example, listen to their music in Eclissi Orientale, Menate and Corolla and you'll know what I'm referring to. Whilst listening to the last title, I couldn't help but to compare them with the French band Minimum Vital. The same kind of folk influences can be heard that they often used. At the end of the album the band has a nice surprise in store: a hidden track can be heard. It's a short instrumental, up tempo piece with some spoken vocals at the end, presumably recorded secretly during a rehearsal.
Ad Maiora succeeded very well in writing strong pieces of music on their first musical effort. Although most of them are instrumental, I never got the feeling of boredom while listening to them. Also, the vocal songs sounded very good so it maybe good advice to compose more vocal songs. All in all, I can only say'bravo!' to the musicians involved in creating such a wonderful, professional sounding debut.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Esther Ladiges)
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