Stramonio - Seasons Of Imagination


Year of Release: 1997
Label: Northwind Records
Catalog Number: NW003
Format: CD
Total Time: 52:00:00

Just when you thought that Italy had just about run out of prog metal bands, out pops Stramonio to keep the consistency of the music alive and well. While lots of us sit around wondering why bands like Black Jester don?t hire a new singer, and Helreid and Shadows of Steel don?t release more discs, Stramonio comes along and takes care of any fears that prog is dying in the great country of Italy. They also prove that true progressive music can be somewhat complex, light at times, catchy, sport a high pitched singer who doesn?t suffer from any curse, AND that someone other than Rhapsody and Time Machine know something about sound.

THE STYLE:

Stramonio plays a mix between semi-complex prog metal mixed with prog metal light, ala Soundscape. As a matter of fact, Stramonio is one of those bands who tend to walk the fine line of prog metal and rock leaning more towards the heavier side of prog rock than metal, a lot like what Soundscape is all about. I?d go, as far as to say that Stramonio is the disc that Soundscape was cheated out of because of many similarities. If you try to imagine a marriage between Soundscape and Ice Age, you pretty much have what Stramonio is all about. You?ve got a twin guitar attack, but not in the metal sense that this term is used, rather, giving this music a nice, thick punch to the music at times. At other times, lots of acoustic guitar is used to complement the electric sound. The keyboards are very prominent as well, and coupled with the twin guitar sound, add a beautiful undertone to the music. Throw in some violin and flute throughout the disc, and you?ve got yourself one diversely played prog disc.

The music can be complex at times, always progressive at the very least, yet always managing to maintain a certain sense of melody and urgency in their sound. In their prog rock mode, the band gets a little jazzy, snazzy, and evoke memories of Ice Age in their lighter moments. In their complex mode, they remind immediately of the complexity of Soundscape while maintaining an overall beauty to the sound. The key / synth leads really remind me of some of the leads that Thorne used in Soundscape and the keyboard / guitars combo also trigger fond memories of Thorne and Todd Rose trading licks, note for note in speedy, melodic solos. The music also has a sense of dramatics, paying much homage to Ice Age in that aspect, but this band certainly has it?s own identity aside from the bands I?m mentioning.

THE VOCALS:

This one is easy. Federico DeVescovi sounds exactly what a cross between Andre Matos (Angra) and Thorne (Soundscape) would sound like with an Italian accent. It?s a beautiful, high pitched, bassless, melodic voice that sounds like Andre Matos much more so than anyone, but in his high range, and this guy can go high, sounds like Thorne doing his incredible highs. It is very safe to say that if you do not like Andre Matos? voice, you will not like Federico?s voice. Most of the time, he moves around in various ranges due to his ability to adapt to any style of song, from a metal tune, to some of the fine ballads that this band is capable of playing, to some nice, complex prog rock song structures. He also uses quite a bit of vocal harmonies much to my delight as this voice is incredibly smooth and melodic and deserves to be heard on several tracks.

THE PRODUCTION:

I applaud this great sound on this disc. It?s absolutely grand and fabulous; in my opinion, brilliant. My only problem, unless I can?t see it, nowhere in the CD insert is credit given to anyone for producing this disc. Go figure. When an Italian band produces a disc this rich and crisp, I WANT to know who the hell recorded this monster so I can refer the rest of Italy to this guy in the future. Unfortunately, as it stands, it remains a mystery as to who tweaked some serious knobs in the studio.

This has to be one of the cleanest recordings ever to come out of Italy. Hands down. Each instrument is so precisely placed in the mix that it?s uncanny. Both guitars shine and just scream from my system. The bass is deep, thick, and my subwoofer is happily fed with a nice fresh bass line instead of muddy bass that lots of prog discs tend to sound like. The bass lines can easily be heard separate and apart from all other instruments. The keyboards sound like the guy is right in your living room playing live, and the vocals also reveal quite the mastery in delivering Federico right into your living room. The drums are clean, thick, and punchy. A on the sound guys - please lend your secrets to the rest of the prog world.

THE VERDICT:

This disc is easily one of the better, undiscovered prog discs to come out of Italy in a long time. While it?s not overly heavy, it does have some kick most of the way through due to the complement of instruments used on the disc. Again, the band incorporates a lot of prog rock sounds into their music, so you do get the best of both worlds from this band. Those of you who like Soundscape are sure to dig this band.

If you like it progressive, melodic, semi-complex, occasional ballads, but not overly heavy, then Stramonio will do the trick for you. It isn?t as heavy as Empty Tremor, but it does get quite thick at times. Again, think Soundscape for similarities in heaviness. Being into the Italian prog metal scene, this disc is a total surprise and enjoyment for me, as it will for anyone into this style of music. This is great work, great writing, great sound, what more could you ask for from a prog disc? Highly recommended.


Tracklisting:
Awake The Jester / Ashes In The Wind / I Swim In The Air / Get Lost In Time / Without You / The Song Of The Harvest Fly / Vital Elation

Musicians:
Federico DeVescovi - vocals
Nicola Balliana - guitars
Luca DeLazzaro - keyboards
Cristiano Zarvettor - bass
Roberto DeCesero - drums
Luca Arrighini - guitars

Special guests

Daniele Ragonese - violin
Marco Crestani - flute

Discography:
Seasons Of Imagination (1997)
Mother Invention (2002)
Time Will Tell (2004)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin IT

Added: June 11th 2000
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website: www.stramonio.com
Hits: 734
Language: english

  

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