Dante’s Inferno, The Divine Comedy- Part 1 is another stunning prog rock project by Finnish prog rock magazine Colossus and French prog rock label Musea. This project even surpasses all previous projects, including the impressive triple CD-box Kalevala. Incredible! This box delivers 34 prog rock bands from all over the world on four CD’s and a booklet with eighty pages with information about all line-ups, the vintage instruments and websites, embellished with many pictures and paintings.
CD-1 (71 minutes) starts with Nuova Era. In my opinion, the instrumental contribution from this acclaimed Italian formation is the best they ever made. This piece has a melodic and dynamic sound between ELP and Ars Nova featuring wonderful Hammond, church-organ and mellotron play and in the final part a powerful saxophone. I’m also delighted about Russian band Little Tragedies with their ultra-bombastic prog rock with flashy guitar and keyboards and an energetic rhythm-section. Dutch trio Lady Lake delivers a varied sound somewhere between Focus and Camel with beautiful mellotron and Hammond waves and exciting electric violin play. The contribution of French quartet Nemo has some bombastic eruptions, topped by strong theatrical vocals and tasteful work on Hammond, mellotron and wah-wah guitar. The song of Argentinean band Nexus has emotional vocals and lush synthesizer flights while Dutch Flamborough Head delivers a very melodic and alternating piece with wonderful keyboards alongside tasteful work on guitar and flute. The other bands on this CD are worth listening too as well. Yesterday comes up with pleasant prog folk with warm female vocals, flute, acoustic guitar and halfway a surprising synthesizer solo. You can hear a unique, but rather experimental sound with opera-like duo vocals by Italian Greenwall, a strong build-up with emotional vocals and powerful Hammond and electric guitar by Atlantis 1001 and a seventies sound with lots of Hammonds and sparkling MiniMoog runs from The Colossus Project.
CD-2 (65 minutes) delivers a blend of known and unknown bands with a strong appearance of Count: a bombastic neo-symphonic sound with good dual guitar play including a long moving solo. The contribution of British Willowglass comprises wonderful Hammond, flute and twelve-string guitar, but also bombastic Hammond and fine mellotron work. Wicked Minds is a sensational Uriah Heep-inspired Italian band with many breaks and floods of Hammond, biting wah-wah electric guitar and a MiniMoog-Hammond duet. Japanese Ars Nova has creative musical ideas, exciting keyboards and heavy guitars played by three guitarists. Dutch keyboardist Matthijs Herder (Oceana Company) delivers a beautiful mellotron sound and sensitive electric guitar that reminds me of fellow Dutchman Jan Akkerman. All other tracks have a sufficient quality level: Swedish Brighteye Brison produce a sound between The Flower Kings and Gentle Giant with distinctive clavinet and strong solos on synthesizer and guitar. The sound of Italian band Garamond is experimental with a wide range of instruments, including mellotron choirs in the end. Their compatriots from Il Castello Di Atlante deliver pleasant symphonic rock with violin, piano, church organ, guitar and synthesizers. Finnish band Groovector plays varied prog folk sometimes dreamy with flute, acoustic guitar and warm vocals, but also bombastic Hammond and howling electric guitars.
CD-3 (55 minutes) is very alternating with many different atmospheres. You can enjoy heavy and bombastic guitar work, spectacular synthesizer flights and emotional Spanish vocals by the Chilean progressive metal band Entrance. American band Advent from New Jersey sounds rather experimental with a flamenco guitar intro and a wide range of instruments. We hear sparkling solos on the grand piano by the Italian Contrappunto Project and their compatriots from Consorzio Acqua Potabile (CAP) deliver a contribution w ith mellow flute and mandolin play. Finnish Ozone Player produces lush Moog, mellotron choirs and ELP-inspired music.
One of my favourite tracks comes from Sinkadus, another Finnish band, with a dark and typical Scandinavian atmosphere: bombastic Hammond and mellotron, a wonderful part with volume pedal guitar and mellotron flutes and a finale with howling guitar and lush Hammond and mellotron. Italian band Nota Bene breathes a jazzy atmosphere caused by the Fender Rhodes electric piano and the guitar sound and an exciting break delivering swinging piano and moving guitar. Last but not least: Finnish Viima with wonderful keyboard duets and sensitive electric guitar.
After more than three hours listening to this huge box set, I wondered if the final disc would succeed in keeping my attention as well. Well, it did! The first two bands on CD-4 (55 minutes) are unknown, but very promising Italian formations. Armalite alternates between seventies- Genesis and early-Marillion with warm native vocals, lush keyboard sounds and fiery electric guitar. Corte Aulica delivers a dynamic, alternating and melodic sound with sensitive electric guitar and exciting MiniMoog solos. I love the blend of classical music with violin, cello, guitar and orchestral symphonic rock with mellotron, church-organ, MiniMoog and powerful electric guitar embellished with pleasant Spanish vocals of multi-instrumentalist Raimundo Rudolfo from Venezuela. Tempano, also from Venezuela, play a kind of avant-garde sound collage, very atmospheric with propulsive drumbeats. Next an interesting duo: former Rustichelli/Bordini keyboard player De Rossi using an array of vintage keyboards and PFM-drummer Carlo Bordini plays inventive keyboard-driven prog with swinging clavinet and a great final part with the choir-section of a Memotron and a fat MiniMoog sound. Goose bumps! Nathan Mahl presents a very strong and alternating contribution: from dreamy with tender piano and a slow rhythm with Camel-inspired guitar and mellotron to a bombastic part with Hammond organ and fiery guitar. Finally, the highly acclaimed Swedish band Simon Says. For me, their composition turns out to be one of the highlights on this CD-box: lots of shifting moods from tender piano to intense bombastic eruptions with mellotron and bass pedals. They also have captivating musical ideas with a vocoder and a sitar, exciting breaks and flashy synthesizer solos with pitch bend and a mind-blowing final part with a strongly build-up guitar solo and sparkling piano. Again goose bumps! My final conclusion: not to be missed by any serious symphomaniac or prog head!
**** Erik Neuteboom (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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