- Album Reviews

Kingcrow – In Crescendo

Crescendo (noun) kra-shen-do

      A- A gradual increase

      B- The peak of a gradual increase: climax

In Crescendo (album) in kra-shen-do

     A- Brilliant fifth album from Italian progressive rockers Kingcrow….

Kingcrow started in Rome, Italy in 1996, and in the time since has been at the forefront of Italian progressive rock. The current lineup consist of Diego Marchesi on vocals, Diego Cafolla and Ivan Nastasi on guitars, Thundra Cafolla on drums, Christian Della Polla on keyboards, and Francesco D’Errico on bass. Though they started as a straight up prog metal outfit, Kingcrow has made a seamless and wonderful transition into something much more textured and atmospheric, with subtly brilliant nuances that would make fans of Riverside and Porcupine Tree stand up and take notice, but with the heavy edge they began their career with still ever present . In fact, throughout the album, there is a certain tension, a somewhat edgy and hesitant vibe, it drifts from tense to anguish to desperate to explosive. It’s as if, musically, thematically, and lyrically, the work from beginning to end is stuck in crescendo.

This is introduced right away in Right Before, the album’s opening track. With a subtle keystrokes and a hazy electronic vibe, a static mode is set. Guitars crash this though with heavy chords, but briefly, and then the vocals roll in. This is an introductory song in the thematic sense too, putting the listener on the pinnacle of the immense decision that dictates the whole concept of the album. It portrays that tense moment right before the end of a relationship, the shifting between whether we shall remain static and leave our heart chained, or to follow our dreams to really feel alive, whatever the consequences. Musically, this one jumps from subtle edginess to explosive aggression, but it does it smoothly. The vocals are almost a staccato tempo, then explode with Marchesi’s brilliant higher range sound. By the end of the song, the listener is on pins and needles, not knowing what to expect next.

Though it opens as a softer ballad like number, This Ain’t Another Love Song doesn’t stay that way for long. This is a song of finality, the hurt of a love at its bitter end. The anguish and pain are so palpable here, perfectly portrayed both musically and lyrically, the full spectrum of emotions are present. The Hatch follows, and is simply stated, a brilliant song. It’s also a number that is scary as hell, in both a good and bad way. The fear is blatant in this one, sitting alone at night, fearing to sleep but also fearing being alive, the moments in life when we are so lost that we hover between wanting to live and wanting to die. Damn scary stuff if you ask me. The good scary is every aspect of the song from a musical standpoint. There are no mistakes here, every note is perfectly placed. The slow build up with an eastern sound to it, the pin drop guitar plucking, the hushed choral tones set the stage perfectly. Then they build, they add, they increase it, wonderfully. It drops and rises, goes from somber and alone to scathing and angry, all adding up to a chorus that captures the heart of the listener completely. Then the song does its best to rip it open again with a beastly instrumental where the duo of guitars first brutalize the ears, then all the instruments jump in on the emotional, spiritual and aural beat down.

This is how the album is built though, from song to song, they drift into and out of so many styles and moods.  Quiets becomes melodic becomes tense becomes searing becomes whatever the band needs to portray the next emotion in the tragic story. Morning Rain again opens on an almost hypnotic note, and again they lay on the intensity bit by bit, until it peaks brilliantly. For The Drowning Line, there is no build up, this one opens at holy crap and never lets up. Aggressively paced and relentless, it is a vicious portrayal of the rat race, the climb to be on top. To think one is chasing a dream when they are really running and hiding from a reality. I think the next tune, Glass Fortress, holds up the explosive tension the best. Lyrically there is such a tragic aura about it, and the vocals just drip with desperation. It is a 4 minute and 59 second cry for help. To whom, we don’t know, but then again, I have screamed out to no one in particular, in just the same fashion, many times. This song recalls those times, perfectly, and flows right into Summer of ’97 so well.  Starting out with reminiscing on the good times, it carries a wistful and dreamy tone, but once again, it doesn’t last. The reality of the present crashes the memories, and slowly the harsher notes creep in, and slowly, the anguish of the reality is coming through again, unto the brutal climactic finish. Heavy and crushing in every way, especially the closing lines of “Once you were the main thing in my life, and now I couldn’t care less.” I feel the song is portraying someone actually trying to force themselves into believing that, to let the anger and pain erase the memories of the good times past, and it does it pretty damn effectively too.

The final track, and the title track, In Crescendo, brings a brutal reality to all the back and forth anguish of the love lost, a child. Portraying the girl looking in a mirror, wondering what will happen now, making promises to the child yet unborn, hoping that the child can hear it’s mother’s words. The promises are full of fear and hope. They are fervent, but the woman behind them is still so much in search of herself. It’s amazing how Kingcrow can portray so much emotion in what are really some scattered lyrics, some brilliant vocal work, and an utter masterpiece of progressive rock. The last five minutes of this song just owns the listener period. Anyone who turns this one off in the middle better have a rabid dog chasing them, that is the only acceptable excuse for breaking the spell this song creates. The fading notes and hushed “it will be ok” repeated over and over finish the song, and album, perfectly.

This album stands out in so many ways, Kingcrow does so many things right here. The musical arrangements are intricately structured, and are carried out by some truly amazing musicians. The lyrics are sparse, quick, and to the point, there are no extraneous words here, every one serves a purpose. The vocals are overflowing with the myriad emotions that are being portrayed in this tragic story. This is an almost perfect album, any flaws on it are ones I am way under-qualified to even find.

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