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Res Gesta - Odissea CD (album) cover


Res Gesta


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.34 | 24 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars There are two kinds of situations that occasionally occur in the RPI world, one where a band that was active in the original period of the Seventies recorded a work that remained sadly unreleased until this modern era (Kundalini Shakti Devi and Buon Vecchio Charlie instantly come to mind), or groups active some decades ago, such as Il Cerchio D'Oro that never got around to recording an official full-length proper album in their day but are making up for lost time now! Res Gesta may have missed the Seventies boom period for Italian prog, instead forming in the Eighties, but after thirty years, they finally present their debut, and it's even more satisfying that it's a real knockout, and one of the most welcome surprises in RPI for 2015.

Right from the start, Res Gesta aim big! Not a wimpy careful debut of little unsure steps, instead with `Odissea' they confidently deliver nothing less than an overly ambitious, heavy and extravagant 74 minute rock opera, and a concept album at that, being a modern interpretation of Greek poet Homer's `Odyssey' . Think of works like Latte e Miele's `Passio Secundum Mattheum', the New Trolls `Concerto Grosso' albums (but thankfully not covered in similar orchestration), with the crossing-over of styles of Osanna, and perhaps a touch of the heaviness that Dutch composer Arjen Anthony Luccassen brings to his Ayreon projects in just a few spots, and you have a good idea of where Res Gesta start.

The big `Overture' sets an early template for much of the disc and rises to life with Simone Muzzi's tip-toeing piano, powerful triumphant organ and Enea Vezzali's announcing crashing drums, while Cesare Cavalli's driving heavier guitars and Luigi Cerasuolo's deep murmuring bass navigate twisting time and direction changes that just might make some listeners think of the most overblown moments of Dream Theater. This opener carefully moves between sedate and dramatic moments with plenty of pomp, and Roberto Bergamini's sombre Italian croon and expressive vocal range is equally as skilful as Syndone singer Riccardo Ruggeri's voice, and just as Queen influenced in parts too!

Looking at some more highlights, there are hard rock stompers such as `Guerra' (with a gorgeous soaring Pink Floyd-ian chorus thanks to the organ and backing vocalists), melancholic and darkly romantic ballads in `Il Giorno Dopo' and `Calipso' (just listen to that final piano-driven instrumental dash in the final minute!), Osanna-like brooding slow-burn ballads in `Lotofagi' loaded with bluesy electric guitar smoulders that reach the heavens, and gothic-tinged theatrical mini epics in the pure RPI tradition with `Ciclope', spiced with acoustic guitar, synths and ravishing piano runs. Moments like slinking pop-rock groover `Circe' are instantly more accessible with a catchy chorus (and again would have easily fit on most Osanna albums), dark moods pervade the heavy riffing guitars and intimidating symphonic synths of `Déjà vu', and the closing `Overture (Reprise)' is a suitably bombastic epic finale.

But most special attention of all must go to the exquisite `Sirene', a haunting and ethereal five minute chamber choir interlude holding the most captivating wordless multi-layered vocal harmonies imaginable. Growing more complex as it progresses, it holds a sobering reflective dignity, and is not only one of the standout vocal moments on a recent Italian prog disc, but one of the overall most sublime and mesmerizing moments on an RPI album all year.

They may not have the bigger name or status at this point, but don't overlook Res Gesta or their massively ambitious work here. Yes, it's a big commitment to take the time to constantly listen to a 74 minute work (although it's more a collection of separate distinctive tunes with bridging instrumentation than one continuous suite), but in this instance, it couldn't be more rewarding, and thankfully the band have worked extremely hard at making `Odissea' full of endlessly melodic vocal passages and memorable instrumental segments. This is extravagant progressive rock in the proudest tradition of the most grandiose RPI releases of the past, and this confident opening musical statement of intent from the fiercely talented Res Gesta is one of the best surprises in Italian prog for 2015.

Four and a half stars (rounded up to five) for a superb debut, well worth the thirty year wait!

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 5/5 |


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