Review Summary: Better late than never for Spettri, definitely one of the highlights of Italian progressive rock in 2015.
Sometimes, a band faces some adversities that delay the chance to release its hard work to the public. Not many, anyway, can "boast" what progressive rock dinosaurs Spettri have experienced. Founded in the Florence of 1964, the band's self titled and concept debut album was recorded in a single take, in 1972. Sadly, the album was frozen due to the decaying of the desire for this kind of music. That was, until 2011. 40 years later, Black Widow Records gave new life to Spettri
, and the band began touring to support the album.
What came from it, was the desire to make new music. Flash forward to 2015, 2973 La Nemica dei Ricordi
picks up right where Spettri
ended. The debut told the story of a protagonist struggling to find an answer to wars and hatred by connecting to the afterlife... only to give in to madness due to the enigmatic replies of the dead. Now, 1001 years later, that same person is still wandering. His new journey, beautifully depicted on the cover artwork, begins with the encounter of a giant ghost ship. Sailing on, the protagonist's destination is nothing but his inner self.
Such an outlandish story is accompanied by equally crazy sounding compositions. Heavy Black Sabbath-like riff driven guitar work, haunting Hammond organ lines and piano sections, triumphant saxophone incursions, choirs and fittingly rough vocals make the perfect complement to the band's horror-esque image. Lending a hand are also two special guests. Elisa Montaldo (Il Tempio delle Clessidre), often requested as a keyboardist, is presented here as the lead vocalist for the ballad "Il Delfino Bianco", while Stefano Corsi plays some Celtic harp and harmonica in "L'Approdo". In addition, the album flows excellently in its theatrical nature. Everything leads to 2973
feeling way shorter than its actual length of almost 50 minutes, gaining in replayability.
It has to be noted that 2973
does not seem to be made with the objective of being as accessible as possible. The song structures are far from predictable, and the guitar work is far from flashy. Instead, the electric guitar, while not discarding emotional solos, is used mainly to create an atmospheric road of tight riffing, while sax -for which the band has a stand-alone member- and keys often function as the main attraction. Besides, while fitting, the main (really) rough vocals and accent may not appeal to everyone and it is easy to see how the understanding of the language is likely to be a key factor for their appreciation. What also hinders the album a bit is a sense of repetition in the middle, where the title track can sound a little too similar to the latter part of the previous "Onda Di Fuoco". Still, 2973
proves to be a solid and coherent listen from beginning to end, with the gentle sound of the waves opening and closing the journey.
Physically speaking, save for the shift to a more progressive songwriting leaving the psychedelic influence (and more prominent guitar playing) behind, nothing has changed since the debut album. Literally, the band decided to use the same instruments used for Spettri
when recording 2973
, de facto making it sound like the direct continuation of the former. The main difference is the production, this time not as raw and definitely more polished. Everything has been made to sound like it comes from the first half of the 70s, using analogue technologies and so releasing a real AAA LP.
Unluckily, the moment of glory for Spettri arrived late. Still, the band does not seem to be worried. As stated in an interview, they want to recover the time they lost and are already setting the foundations for 'Spettri 3', while touring to support 2973
. All in all, this album is not 'only' another promising gem for Italian progressive rock in 2015, it is also a testament of how time cannot stop the passion for writing and playing your music, without jumping on trends.