If you are a fan of Italian prog, this is a must have for your collection. Comprised mostly of relatively unknown bands, the CD is bursting with all the hallmarks of perfect Italian progressive rock.
Canossa is a Rock Opera that tells of the battles around the castle Canossa and the famous story of Henry the IV pleading to Pope Gregory VII to be accepted back into the church from excommunication. It also dwells much on the relationship between Henry and his love of Tuscan Countess Matilda who included the castle as part of her many possessions.
It begins and alternates tracks throughout with spoken interludes that tells the story in Italian with backing instrumental music by Gigi Cavalli Cocchi. Don’t worry, by putting the disc in your computer you can read the entire story in three different languages. Next is Mangala Vallis (probably the most well-known band here) and their contribution. With singer Fabio Mora, they zip through a composition that has all the Genesis-Italian folk sounds that Italy is so well known for. The Grecian string instrument Bozouki is featured prominently in this song to great effect. All the music on this CD harks back to classic prog rock in the style of Le Orme, PFM, and even Finisterre.
The next band track features Trama Sonora and very nice female vocals. The Genesis tribute group Sequencer lends an original song that of course strongly recalls early Genesis. Track #8 by Arcanoise is perhaps the best cut on the album with some crunchy guitar which is unusual for this style, but very effective. This leads into a wonderful guitar solo that has me thinking of “Selling England by the Pound.” Finally, the almost eleven minute composition brings us back to the starting theme. I’m very impressed by the dynamics used by Arcanoise and I’m sure it will compel me to seek out a CD or two.
A great instrumental track contribution by Tupe is next for the band compositions. Oltremare brings the lovely song “Il Poeta” to the mix and this one recalls Banco, another of the great Italian bands. Ten and a half minutes of more classic prog. Man, this CD just keeps getting better! Master Experience gives us the ten minute finale. It is a fitting end to a wonderful album. Once again, don’t miss this if you are a fan of great Italian prog.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on September 28th, 2006