Coming out of the sounds of ‘70s Italian and English Prog-Rock and almost as if they could have done the score for the 1974 sci-fi cult classic, Zardoz, Unreal City are an up-and-coming band from Parma that show you can take the genre into darker territories. Following into the footsteps of King Crimson, PFM, Le Orme, Genesis, and Banco, they are completely beyond your wildest imagination and their debut album, La Crudelta Di Aprile (The Cruelty of April), the band have shown that they can the genre up a notch.
Filled with beautiful atmospheric keyboard work in the sounds of the Mellotron, Moog, Harpsichord, and Organ along with Guitar work which makes you take a trip down memory lane, it’s a mesmerizing and exhilarating roller-coaster ride from the moment you put the album for a spin to enjoy an amazing journey, you’ll never forget. The band considers Emanuele Tarasconi on Lead Vocals and Keyboards, Francesca Zanetta on Electric Guitar, Francesco Orefice on Bass, and Federico Bedostri on Drums and they have been around since 2008 and they are going to hit the Prog Festivals one of these days to show that the genre is not dead, but a resurrection to give it a huge volt.
There are six breathtaking and mind-boggling compositions that which will take a few notes for the listener to get a real jaw-dropping surprise. The eight minute epic, Catabasi (Descensio Ad Inferos), begins with a dooming church organ introduction, percussion, and tubular bells setting the gothic atmosphere before Emanuele comes in with his vocals in the style of Peter Hammill and the vibes of Edgar Allen Poe as if he had wrote a mini rock opera of The Raven. And then, it goes into a catchy rhythm section featuring a dazzling Violin work done by Fabio Biale as he pays homage to Darryl Way of Curved Air as it becomes a terrifying nightmare before it mellows down to give it a calming relaxation.
Atlantis (Conferendis Pecuniis) is very spooky. Mellotrons and Moogs along with a Piano Concerto coming out of nowhere as Francesca just nails it with her Robert Fripp and David Gilmour-sque guitar work to give it a goosebumping starter and then goes into an alarming beauty which has this wonderful element, that is mellowing, swirling, and hypnotic phrase that is straight out of the sessions King Crimson’s Lizard and Pink Floyd’s A Saucerful of Secrets.
Meanwhile, Dove La Luce E’ Piu Intensa, which they have done a Promo Video of, has this ‘70s Symphonic Jazz Rock vibe thanks to the funky Clavinet done by Emanuele as he challenges George Duke and Rick Wakeman’s keyboard work before Francesco does his Jaco bass line as he and Federico go into Fusion town with a Funky twist as almost as if they were a trio with a lot of Thunderous momentum. The opener, Dell’Innocenza Perduta, goes into a beautiful dance surrounding. Acoustic Folk and Heavy Guitar lines along with the keyboards and Federico’s calming drum patterns, there is a lot of wonderful beauty from these four members very well.
The catchy and circus-like reggae touches on Ecate (Walpurgisnacht) give Francesca a moment to shine with her guitar. As I’ve mentioned before, she has the touches of David Gilmour and Robert Fripp, but with a bluesy funk psych wah-wah feel in the solo, it’s very waltzy as well with a humoristic quirkiness in there as the band have a grand old time. And then it’s the dramatic closing 17-minute epic, Horror Vacui that finishes the album off with a climatic finale.
It’s an excellent combination of sinister nightmarish difficult time changes filled with the voyages of the Keyboards going into the scores of a Horror Film, Francesco’s snapping bass work, ‘60s psych sounds that Francesca does on her guitar to give it a wailing and emotional cry and not to mention the crescendo with the roaring Mellotron to give it a big bang to close the curtains with roaring applauses.
I have listened to La Crudelta Di Aprile about 13 times already and I’m completely hooked into the band’s work. And I have to give Fabio Zuffanti, whose work includes: Aries, Finisterre, Hostsonaten, La Maschera Di Cera, and the story of Merlin: The Rock Opera, a huge amount of credit to work with an incredible up-and-coming band that really know the score very well. He, like Steven Wilson, has been a very busy man working on projects in the Prog community. So I might check out some of Fabio’s material later on this year. That said, this is an explosive debut that is a mind-blowing experience, you’ll never forget.