ROZ VITALIS - Lavoro D'Amore

Roz Vitalis - Lavoro D'Amore

11 songs
56:08 minutes
***** ****


I must have stumbled across the name Roz Vitalis in the past but never really got around to listening to their music. When I was asked by band leader Ivan to review their newest album Lavoro d’Amore, I could not really refuse, as my curiosity was quite strong. The band from Saint Petersburg in Russia has been around since 2001, at first as a studio project and a few years later as a fully-fledged live band. The new album’s title is maybe a little misleading, as one would expect an Italian progressive rock band, but maybe that’s because the CD has been released on the Italian prog label Lizard Records.

The first thing to know about Roz Vitalis is that their progressive rock is quite unlike what you expect from that genre. First of all, their music is entirely instrumental. Furthermore they also insist that there are no guest musicians featured on the album, and frankly who needs more musicians when your actual band consists of eight performers? It’s been said that Lavoro D’Amore is Roz Vitalis’ heavierst album so far, and a cursory examination wouldn’t give you that impression. But then you shouldn’t expect typical songwriting with these guys, but rather the approach of classical composers. Take for instance the opener The Acknowledgement Day, at four and a half minutes a rather concise track (like most pieces on the album), but it is so chock full of ideas that a lesser band would have stretched this over half an album. The beginning of the song comes with a pastoral flute part that reminds me of Camel’s Snow Goose adaptation, at other times their music shows parallels to the late Bo Hansson’s Lord of the Rings song suite. So you get it that Roz Vitalis have quite the cinematic flair and are master storytellers, and all of this without even using words.

Like I hinted before, the songs usually start quiet enough, and it’s for instance only on the opener’s second half where the electric guitar adds some punch that really explodes during the last half minute. It’s hard to pick any favourites, because the hour long album listens like one story that deserves to be listened to from the very beginning until its final note. But there are of course some tracks that do stand out, like the happy folk prog tune Il Vento Ritorna, or the groovy Need For Someone Else. At times Roz Vitalis even stray away from their proggy path and flirt with psychedelic space rock, as on Invisible Animals which made me think of Ozric Tentacles.

The sub-genre avant prog is occasionally mentioned in the case of Roz Vitalis, but they are actually so much more. Their music is richly orchestrated, the songs are brimming with ideas, never revealing to the listener what will happen next, and yet there is never the impression of chaos at work, but rather of master musicians weaving together an wonderfully varied prog rock epic. There is a definite folk component, and they are also no strangers to psychedelic, space and post rock, and although their sound has strong ties to the Seventies, there is enough unexpected things happening to prevent these guys from being a pure retro act. The only thing you need to unravel all of the music’s secrets is time, because this is no music that you will fully appreciate from the beginning. But spending enough moments with it will definitely make it one of your future favourites.

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