Like a recent Italian band I reviewed ( Phaedra-“Ptah”), this band also began earlier, playing live concerts from 1998 to 2004 or so. This is the time when Mano-Vega began recording their first CD. Six years later, we have this issued. It is not clear if the band worked on it for that long, or just that things got delayed thru life and red tape. But it’s here now, so that is all that matters.
The line up is Valerio D’Anna (vocals, piano, synth), Giovanni Macioce (guitar, fx, Theremin), Lorenzo Mantova (bass, fx), and Andrea Scala (drums). You will hear a lot of synthetic instrumentation (even e-drums) so this is a very techno-prog-rock for sure. At first listen, it comes across with a good deal of prog metal and even industrial prog. But there is much more mixed in throughout. While not anything like the classic prog Italian bands that stay beautiful and harmonious, this takes on an almost Nine Inch Nails sound in many spots. Very heavy at times. I am betting prog metal lovers will love this. Now for the other influences, I hear some later day Porcupine Tree (instrumentally), King Crimson (mid period like Discipline, Beat, and Three of Perfect Pair), and I list some more throughout this review. The vocals change many times from distorted to mellow (even soft and quiet). More times aggressive than tame though.
Because of the electronic style they have chosen, “Nel Mezzo” has some things in common with bands like the more heavy German space rock bands as well as celestial jam bands such as Ozric Tentacles and experimental electronic bands like The Chemical Brothers. Some compositions like “Sinestesia” ( Song 5) starts very quietly, with an undercurrent of what they intend to move to, and then erupts into a very frenetic part, only to alternate back to a whisper, that then moves to this most beautiful piano part, ( this is the one place you can hear a more classic prog sound) and develop the song into what I hear as an epic. Great song! Part of it reminds me of what Hostsonaten is doing on last three releases. And it isn’t over yet, as it goes into yet another pace and level, with that kick butt ending! It’s on this song that I became a fan. Worth the price for this song alone. YES! Always love a CD if it has one of those incredible songs that just drops your jaw and makes you smile at the same time. I even drooled on that one. All 10 minutes and 10 seconds of it!!! And then there was yet another one.
I think some of this might best be described as a modern Rupert Hine recording if he did a more industrial prog CD and hooked up with Trent Reznor. If you listen to ‘Immunity” By Rupert then you’ll recognize exactly what I am saying here. Although this CD has a lot of variety for this type of genre, I really enjoyed it and once again, do not have anything else just like it. The main writer is Valerio D’Anna and he did all the production, mixing, and recording. He definitely has a vision. I wasn’t sure I’d like this CD upon first 2 songs, but after the 5th song blew me away, I listened more carefully to the next 2 spins of the CD and ended up really loving it. Although this recording leans more towards the metal and industrial, the many other elements become part of the up and down energy, dynamics, and color of the listening experience. Much of the music is enticing and sometimes earth shaking. This can easily be a trip CD. It may have been intended so. Some of it just floats you off. The last song (“dal Nero al Bianco”) ends things with another amazing song. So here’s a second song that just sends shivers up your spine. Epic !!! More like the band God Is An Astronaut at their peak. Easily recommended !!!
Reviewed by Lee Henderson on February 28th, 2011