Who is the band? What was the inspiration behind this album?
“The band was originally founded in Rome, Italy, by Diego Cafolla (guitars) and Manuel Thundra Cafolla (drums) in 1996 under the name of "Earth Shaker"." “Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's poem "Raven" and driven by a will of change, the band's name was soon altered into Kingcrow.” “During 2004 and 2005, Kingcrow built their own recording studio in Rome. A new album, "Timetropia", (heralded by media and fans as a true rock opera along the lines of "Tommy", "Jesus Christ Superstar" or even "Operation Mindcrime"), was recorded and published worldwide by Lucretia Records International.” “In 2007 and 2008, together with new bassist Angelo Orlando, Kingcrow performed several live shows at the biggest Italian hard rock-heavy metal music festivals (including Gods of Metal alongside Iron Maiden and Judas Priest to support the album release.” (Source: Kingcrow’s MySpace, 2010).
Timetropia was designed as a rock opera in the tradition of The Who’s Tommy, or more appropriately Queen’s Night at the Opera. I requested a copy of the album, for a review to be included with an interview with the band.
A Perfect Life – Those cool synths and sound effects which would be featured more prominently on Phlegethon, show off their talents early. A Rush, ‘middle section of 2112’ beginning to this one, with the quiet lead electric picking and then the sound of an announcer and the countdown to liftoff! But unlike Phlegethon’s Slide and Timeshift Box, this one slows down to a building opening. Those keys, bass, and lead electrics surrounding the soundscape. The drums ever-present and alive with sound. The vocals building the storyline, “another day’s beginning in my humble fairy tale.” An overture to open the story.
Fading Out Part I – I was very interested in the storyline and combination of this and part II, which appears later on this album, and their connection with part III, which appears on Phlegethon, the band’s new album. This song, unlike parts II and III, is an instrumental. It begins with what sounds like, those rocks on the beach from Quadrophenia, but instead of the beach, the protagonist jumps into the car and apparently turns on this track. This one comes at you with all lead riffs blazing. The drums smash and build tempo along with the bass and the quieter keys in the background. The lead riffs are solid and different. A cars wheels squeal and the car crashes to end this part of the story.
Timetropia Suite- Out Of The Darkness – A breathing apparatus at the hospital. Perhaps inspired by Ayreon’s Human Equation. This is the opening track of the rock opera section of this four song epic. The vocals are warm like awakening from a dream. “Out of the darkness the nightmares can hide no more.” “My eyes start to see the past.” The slow plucking of lead guitar helps produce that just waking effect so well.
Timetropia Suite - Realusion – This track flows perfectly from the last. The bass and keys are wonderful. The lead slowly plucking away as the protagonist begins to awake. You feel the music flow perfectly with him from that dream state. “As my minds getting clearer I close my eyes.” “Why my memories have faded?” One of my favorite parts of this epic suite.
Timetropia Suite - Between Now And Forever - Then, suddenly the realization you are awake. The longest track within this suite. A powder keg of emotion and drilling lead guitar with solid drumming punctuating each move of the piece. Then some acoustic and heavy bass as the melody builds. Great vocals and lyrics drifting back through memories, “All these days would have passed in a state without emotions.” “And the nights were so alive with the dancers in my head.” Rocking lead riffs roar through the air and fill all spaces. The building tempo and power of what would be manifested more profoundly on Phlegethon. But you can hear the early development and progress of this band on this suite. They have found their place and style and do a great job of bringing it front and center. “Right between now and forever.” How appropriate. This was the real beginning of the shift in sound for a band taking it to another level.
Timetropia Suite - Fractured – Cool strings and bass, as this band distinguishes itself with unique chords and style. Others have compared this band to Dream Theater and Rush, but if you listen carefully you will hear their very unique way of signature stamping everything they create. The blistering lead on this one at about 1:46 is a great example of this uniqueness. This part of the suite is dominated by power chords and drums. However, it closes with those cool keys.
Home – “Walk in the same room where I’ve grown.” “All is the same and so different.” “And what I believed I don’t know.” “Try to go on I don’t know how.” The guitar licks that accompany these vocals are spellbinding. The drums blast in and another great lead riff soars to the top. Then a padded drum fast motion begins accompanied by some awesome lead guitars. This is followed by a choir – like vocal track “I am coming home”, which really lifts this song. The heavy leads and drums fade out to cool acoustic sounds with the choir left to repeat the refrain alone. One of the best effects on the album. Almost like an acoustic ending choir for Bohemian Rhapsody. Similar, but very different.
A Merry-Go-Round (Chemical Ecstasy) – Pounding drums and lead rip through this one as the tempo builds and we are off on a cool heavy metal power romp. Complete with piano, this one is a solid rocker meant to get the fans out of their seats and cheering. “Dancing all around and open like a child.” Yeah, you can dance to this one. The killer riffs on this one take off and this is the band having fun rocking you after all the build – up of the previous opera-like tracks. The keys come in with a cool effect then the Rush power guitars take over. This band is constantly working a perfect interplay between guitars and keys and it sounds so good. Another choir – like section which adds to the quality of this album.
Fragile Certainties – My favorite song on the album. Sound effects of a loud clock ticking. Imagine if you could hear Queensryche’s Silent Lucidity matched with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody? It would sound allot like this. Not a copy by any stretch of the imagination, but definitely inspired by the two. The acoustic at the beginning is worth the price of this CD alone. It’s almost sitar sound effect amazingly set against the ticking clock. Then Mauro’s almost Geoff Tate – like vocals, “Turning from the dim and suddenly I see it clear.” “What will happen now?” “We lie awake or dream again?” The acoustic that accompanies this is awesome. It just flows so perfectly with the dream – like state in Mauro’s voice. The acoustic and drums supported so well with those flowing keys makes this such a peaceful song. “Please take me away from such a time device.” The choir chimes in with Bohemian Rhapsody like refrains as the Brian May – like lead riffs lift into the sky. A perfect mix between two of my favorite songs. The acoustic that takes you out is wonderful, mixed with keys that sound like a musical box or the turning of a jack in the box lever.
A Hitch-Hiker – The darkness of the bass and power chords are back after a short chime intro which perfectly creates a chilling opener. The choir is back and you feel their power vocals building drama and effect. “The rain.” Then, clouds burst, and the rain sound effects cover the soundscape along with the sound of pumping guitar.
Turn Of Events In A Drawer – The launching lead chords take over. supported by those incredible drums. But the power bass riff underneath is the standout this time. “For everyone lost, there will be someone found.” The keys return to help provide a gentle reminder, but the ripping lead chords and thumping drums return to take the journey full steam ahead. An acoustic guitar segment is added perfectly to the mix without missing a beat, but adding so much to the effect. A power chords extravaganza. Mauro’s vocals are some of the best on the album. There is a very strong element of Dream Theater melodies here, but again not a copy, just a tilt of the hat in salute. The keys are awesome as the song comes to a close.
Fading Out Part II – Power bass chords along with lead and keys to close the album. At 6:18, the longest track outside of the epic suite. Everything is unleashed on this closer. The opening bass and lead continue to figure prominently, but the lead is now heard throughout grinding away. The power begins to build and some of the best lead riffs of the album are saved for this ending. The choir is back with “Past by your true light still standing, waiting arrows from your bow.” “Such a weapon was forgotten.” That wonderful acoustic and Gypsy sound which permeates part III of this track from Phlegethon, gets its introduction here. The car crashing again brings us back to the beginning or end…but the song is not over. Hard grinding bass and lead guitar fill the air as rain and other effects surround the scene.
Rating: 9/10 – This is not Phlegethon, but this is an expansive, powerful story set to music. That is the tough part about any Kingcrow album. There is so much going on within the music and sound, that it is hard to talk about it from the two dimensional world of writing a review. The music is multidimensional and it simply must be experienced.
Although the story is hard to follow, without a lyrics sheet, you can feel the power and presence of the songs through the guitar, drums and keys being played. This band definitely knows how to capture feeling in their music. They are talented musicians trying to create epics written in English from their Italian homes in Rome. Extra credit must be given to the effort and care which this band puts into its works.
This is an interesting story which any fan of Dream Theater, Rush, Queen, or Queensryche would be happy to enjoy and experience. Timetropia is a time machine which I will be returning to on numerous occasions to relive the drama and music of this band.
Reviewed by Prof on July 2nd, 2010