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Røsenkreütz - Back To The Stars CD (album) cover

BACK TO THE STARS

Røsenkreütz

 

Crossover Prog

3.91 | 55 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars May 2014 brings the debut album `Back To The Stars' from an exciting new Italian group called Røsenkreütz, who, in addition to singing in English, couldn't sound less like the classical/theatrical influenced traditional RPI/Italian bands! Originally beginning as a solo project for producer Fabio Serra, symphonic and heavy prog is the order with the day, crossing over with an accessible poppy sound and a dash of AOR melodic catchiness. Their sound is instantly comparable to bands such as Spock's Beard, little moments of U.K, and especially Asia and the 80's era of the big defining vintage prog bands, but with an energy and flair all their own. Only a miss-step late in the disc lets the album down very slightly and briefly, but generally this is a very impressive debut, and it's admirable to see a band so confident and sure of their own abilities release an album this strong right from the start.

Slinking grooving hard riffs with some very 80's sounding E.L.Powell/Asia keyboard bluster contrast with softer vocal passages from lead singer Massimo Piubelli on opener `Signals in the Water'. The band beautifully build an atmospheric introduction on `Sitting on the Edge of Heaven' with some stirring violin then shatter it with a power AOR heavy stomp with symphonic synth stabs and plenty of call-and-response catchy vocals. There's also some very impressive a-capella group harmonies that would make Spock's Beard, Gentle Giant and Haken green with envy! `Conditioning' is a simple catchy AOR rocker in the style of `90125/Big Generator'-era Yes with stomping heavy drums and some hip-swiveling funky guitar grooves again for good measure. Nice subtle reggae flavours are worked into `Nothing More In You', and the upbeat `Childish Reaction' has a synth melody very similar to Asia's `Here Comes The Feeling', which is actually a good reference point overall for some of this piece. With a gutsy heaviness to some of the ripping electric guitar runs, it's also a winner with a very catchy chorus with sublime group harmonies.

Sadly, it's a very ill-conceived cover of the Beatles `I Am The Walrus' that momentarily drags the album down. First of all, nobody - ever - wants to hear Beatles cover songs. Secondly, there is nothing even remotely psychedelic about the rest of the album, so it makes even less sense to include a song in that style here, totally at odds with many of the AOR, symphonic and heavy styles covering the majority of the disc. If it had been a bonus track at the end, listeners could be a little more forgiving, but placing it just before the standout moment of the album is a definite error in judgment. Do yourself a favour, simply skip this one and focus on the outstanding original material the band have offered here, and they should be aware that their own material is good enough that they don't need to include attention-stealing covers in the future.

Unsurprisingly, for a prog band, it's the almost 18 minute title track that impresses most of all, and it just may be one of the best extended progressive works of the year! Gentle synth orchestration, delicate acoustic guitar flavours, Genesis-like organ pomp eruptions, delirious Dream Theater bombast and playful early 70's Queen-style campiness all feature. Numerous heartfelt classical piano passages excitedly bring this the closest track to proper Italian prog/RPI, and the seamless tempo changes back and forth and transitions between different sections, pleasing vocal melodies and perfectly executed soloing from all the musicians makes this one fans of modern symphonic bands will real go for, and it hints at all sorts of directions the band may like to expand upon in the future.

Some may find the lack of a clear sound or direction a little confusing, but it's really a band trying to appeal to as wide an audience as possible and tick a number of boxes. The album is full of strong compositions, slick playing and skillful vocals with a modern polished production, and the band is proudly unashamed of aiming to catch the ear of more accessible music listeners. Røsenkreütz are a very promising band to watch in the future, and `Back to the Stars' is a near-perfect example of how good crossover bands can be when they get that balance of progressive technicality with melodic commercial appeal just right - no easy feat!

Four and a half stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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