Il Segno del Comando – Il Volto Verde


[Reviewed by: Damiano Lanzi]

Il Segno del Comando is a supergroup formed by members of various progressive bands and external collaborators, united under the guidance of Diego Banchero. It’s a multiform collective and their releases are not frequent, because all the members are engaged in other projects. They pay tribute to the currents of Italian prog-rock, an important scene with widely acknowledged bands as Area and PFM, but also several precious minor groups. Their main influence is the darker side of “spaghetti-prog”, bands as Jacula and Goblin, well known for the soundtrack of Dario Argento’s horror film “Deep Red”. Aside from this, there are modern sounds, borrowed from progressive-metal (mostly concerning the guitars and digital keyboards) and a trained, technical female voice of operatic derivation.

“Il Volto Verde” is a concept album about “The Green Face”, an esoteric novel by Gustav Meyrink, whose writings have already inspired their 2002 album “Der Golem”. The lyrics are evocative, but I believe that having read the book surely helps with the comprehension and appreciation of the record.

Let’s examine the most important pieces of this opus. The instrumental electronic intro of “Echi dall’Ignoto” is attached to “La Bottega delle Meraviglie”, an extremely rhythmic song with powerful bass and funky guitars. Nice guitar riff in the chorus. “Chider il Verde” carries the listener into the obscure and sulphurous atmospheres of the album: an arpeggio reiterated as a mantra on which a sinister sabbatical choir sings before the prog-metal verse. “Trenodia delle Dolci Parole” contains the finest vocal melodies in the album. The verse is an intricate twine of guitar lines, strings, electric organ and pulsating bass. Then the singer’s valkyrie cry seems to engage in a duel with the lead guitar in the best solo of the album (even if the sound is a bit too “digital” in my opinion). “Il Rituale” is a good fretless bass solo à la Jaco Pastorious, while “La Congrega dello Zee Dyk” is maybe the less accomplished piece: the hypnotic vocal lines become boring after a few listens. On the other hand, I’ve really enjoyed “L’Evocazione di Eva”, an instrumental that sounds like the soundtracks of the Italian low-budget action movies of the ‘70s.

The composition is generally very good and the arrangements are complex, but I personally don’t like the mixing and mastering: the sound is too amalgamated and “garage” for this musical genre; there are heavy parts, but they are not incisive as they’re meant to be, the sound of the guitars and drums being too thin. Maybe these choices have been made intentionally to preserve the dark atmosphere, but I think that a clearer sound could have helped to fully understand the many nuances and textures of “Il Volto Verde”.

Il Segno del ComandoIl Volto Verde
Black Widow Records, BWRCD 161-2
CD 2013

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