La Bottega Del Tempo A Vapore - Viaggi inVersi

7 songs
52:32 minutes
***** ****


Italy has been a safe haven for progressive rock since the early Seventies. In March 1972, for instance, the Top Five of their album charts consisted of King Crimson, Genesis, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Premiata Forneria Marconi and Van Der Graaf Generator. There must be something about the baroque intricacies of that musical movement that must have been inherently appealing to Italian audiences. Even the band had convoluted names, like the aforementioned Premiata Forneria Marconi and also the no less popular Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso.

More recently, there has been a collective of musicians called La Bottega Del Tempo A Vapore, and that strange, long name must of course be seen as a tribute to the two others long-named bands. Their first album Il Guerriero Errante came out in 2016, and now they are already back with its successor Viaggo inVersi. This Italian sextet is not your typical progressive rock band, as they also use elements of progressive metal to make their sound a little more contemporary. In the end, it still sounds like Italian period prog meeting up with Dream Theater, but itís so well done that every progressive rock fan will end up loving the final product.

The two-minute-long intro Flashback is a little weird though, as it contains snippets of songs from the debut, and is only interesting for those truly familiar with the bandís work. The first regular track Goccia Di Tenebra is a darkly rocking progressive rock / metal track that comes with a really dynamic chorus. In fact the first half of the album is where the band has more of a metal edge, sounding actually more Dream Theater than PFM. The turning point comes with the two-parted Tempo Inverso, where the first half is still rather heavy, before the second half shows a mellower side of the band. Then itís time for the albumís magnum opus: Dama Di Spade is a twenty-five-minute behemoth that comes with everything that makes the prog rock fanís heart beat faster. I have been a sucker for long tracks ever since A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers and Supperís Ready, and even if Dama Di Spada may not yet reach that level, itís still a mesmerising piece of art. The concluding Mestieri feels like an afterthought, but what an afterthought this is: you canít play classic Italian prog more authentic than this! Mestieri is cheesy, full of kitsch, but in a good way. In some ways, even the secret highlight of the album.

La Bottega Del Tempo A Vapore may not be the most original band, but they excel at combining classic Italian prog with more modern progressive metal elements. One of their members is even a lyricist Ė meaning his role is only to write the lyrics Ė so in that way there is even a parallel to King Crimson and Peter Sinfield. Viaggi inVersi is good clean prog fun that every friend of progressive rock music should have heard.

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