Wounded Knee - Heyoke

Year of Release: 2001
Label: AB Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 57:37:00

From this Italian band's name, Wounded Knee, you can pretty much gather that the themes on Heyoke deal with Native Americans. And even if the name didn't clue you in, the pounding war drums and yelping voices we've heard in a million movies about Native Americans, followed by a series of gunshots, should give you and idea of this band is about. Wounded Knee was the site where the US Army killed many Native Americans in 1890 (the band Gila took this same incident, from a book by the recently deceased Dee Brown, for their album Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee). The album is "almost a concept [album] about people who acted opposite [in] respect [to] others and fought for their ideas," says a blurb about this album at the AB Records website. "'Heyoke' is the Lakota [term] for 'contrary,' the people that acted opposite inside their tribe: speaking, riding, walking."

Wounded Knee's sound draws from a number of influences, influences that include Kansas, which becomes immediately evident in the first track, "Come In/Curley." But along with Kansas, the band also throw in a bit of Iron Maiden (UK) -- surely thinking of "Run To The Hills," though "Come In/Curley" (about Crazy Horse) doesn't sound really like that track. This is the chunkiest that Wounded Knee get, with the jackhammer drumming of Maurizio De Palo. Vocalist Paolo Ferrarese overall sounds like Damien Wilson, and bit like many other folks including Bruce Dickinson, but Damien Wilson is probably the best comparison. Add in a sprinkling of Robert Plant and Daniel Gildenlow, too. In fact, there is a name that is just at the edge of my memory that would be even more apt that combines each of these together. However, Ferrarese is about half the singer of any of those vocalists - he's got the tone and style, but doesn't quite have the talent. But, give him credit for trying, because the passion is there. Ferrarese sings in English for the most part, though two tracks, "Achtung Banditen!" and "Sententia" are sung in Italian. Looking at the AB Records' page on the band, the vocalist has changed again (Farrarese was the band's second vocalist) and is now Matteo Peluffo.

"Red Stained Childhood" (about child victims of war) begins with some very nice, mellow acoustic guitar, emphasizing that the strongest element to Wounded Knee's sound is guitarist Fabrizio Bonanno (label head Aldo Bonanno's brother, I believe). Bonanno also plays keys on the album, along with guests Filippo Cantarella (also violin) and Andrea Garella; sometimes they work, sometimes they seem like afterthoughts. They worked here. Bonanno, by the way, is also a member of all the other AB bands: Equiseti, Rabatabuse, Arcane Visions, and Rainbird. The bass of Davide Galletti (also of Arcane Visions and Rainbird) is another highlight, his shinging moment coming later in the heavy, dark "Achtung Banditen!" Ferrarese's subdued vocal performance here strikes the right chord, too. This is the best track on the album, even including a spacy, psychedelic passage that you would have expected from "Perceptions Of Reality (The Beast)," a track that comes before and is about Albert Hoffman, who was the inventor of LSD.

It is in "Perception?" where their prog rock influences come in, despite the bit of chugging guitars and drums here. Violin again brings in a Kansas element, though that isn't all that makes me think that, as there are times where it reminds me of both "Paradox" and "Lightning's Hand" (from Point Of Know Return). There is a bit added on at the end where piano like keyboards provide a rather nice interlude. When chugging and stuttering guitars are added, the keys sound more like keys and very out of place. Later in "Achtung Banditen!" (about Cimitero, who fought against fascists in Italy) the band add some swirling keyboards a la Marillion over a rhythm that reminds me a bit of "Conga" (Miami Sound Machine), at least in terms of the percussion being used. This is another example of the keyboard's use not being entirely successful and they are extraneous later on "Anna-Mae," a track that will have not only Wilson/Plant come to mind, but also a touch of Dream Theater's James LaBrie when Ferrarese gets his voice soaring on the musical thermals. It's a track that would have been right at home on Landmarq's Solitary Witness. It is a song about a "red skin woman killed probably by [the] FBI" (and yes, even in the info sheet that came with this CD, Native Americans are referred to as "redskins" - many will argue the validity of the term "Native Americans," as well? but here it is a digression).

That's the problem here, that there are various bits added in or on, depending where they are placed, that stretch the pieces to 7-minute lengths (or longer, in the case of "Sententia"). In the case of "Perception?," that interlude at the end would have worked just as well as a separate instrumental track, but instead it breaks up the flow by going back to the musical themes that precede it. The parts themselves aren't bad, but could have been set aside as separate tracks, like the all instrumental "Apo-logy," which is a nifty, if not terribly unique, hard rockin' piece. Another band that comes to mind, especially here, is Blind Guardian (whom I also thought of with the first track); there's same degree of heaviness but also the interplay between guitar, bass and drums -- though classic Kansas is never far from the mind. This ranks as the second best track on the CD. The mellower parts of "Sententia" (about Tommaso Campanella, a 16th Century philosopher) work, and even the mix seems more balanced, though still far from perfect.

It is not an awful release, but it isn't an overwhelmingly teriffic one either. It is above average, as the rating below summarizes, but as much as you will like what you hear, you will also feel you've heard it before and done better, crisper. They do better with the instrumental, progressive rock passages, than with the full tilt metal, maybe because they inject more dynamics into the arrangements. The mixing of all the elements on Heyoke seems compressed, like all the elements are the same level, and with Farrarese's vocals, it just seems like noise sometimes.

Come In / Curley (7:15) / Perceptions Of Reality (The Beast) (7:59) / Red Stained Childhood (7:36) / Achtung Banditen! (9:16) / Apo-Logy (7:58) / Anna Mae (6:54) / Sententia (12:09)

Fabrizio Bonanno - electric, classic and acoustic guitars, salterio, keyboards and sequencer programming
Maurizio De Palo - drums and percussion
Davide Galletti - bass

Guests: Filippo Cantarella - keyboards and violin
Paolo Ferrarese - vocals
Andrea Garella - keyboards

Wounded Knee (1997)
Heyoke (2001)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin IT

Added: May 18th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 815
Language: english


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