Conqueror come from Sicily and began life in 1994 in the small town of Santa Teresa di Riva, in the province of Messina, on the initiative of drummer Natale Russo. After many problems, in 2003 they finally released an interesting debut album, “Istinto”, with a line up featuring Natale Russo (drums, backing vocals), Simona Rigano (keyboards, vocals), Gaetano Scarcella (guitar) and Tony Rose (bass). “Istinto” was self-produced by the band and the sound quality is not flawless but you can find here some very good ideas and an undeniable freshness. The music draws on the Italian “prog-masters” of the Seventies but the song-writing is good enough and the soaring melodic voice of Simona Rigano gives a touch of “lightness” to the compositions. Well, the lyrics are maybe a bit “naive”, as if the words were just hanging on a dream, but they perfectly fit a music that seems desperately trying to “break through the barriers of time”.
The opener “Storie di favole” (Stories of fairy tales) explores the borderline between imagination and real life. The lyrics conjure up icy waves that wash away pale memories of ancient lores and fairy tales while timeless, mysterious shadows melt in the dark. Next comes the dreamy “Quartar”, where the memories of a crumbling utopia get lost in games of lights and shadows and ironic ghosts mock your madness. “Pensieri fragili” (Fragile thoughts) begins with a nice piano pattern, then the other instruments come in. The lyrics evoke immortal dreams and confused fantasies, arcane melodies and mysterious harmonies while some electric guitar riffs take off like Zeppelins in the sky... “Imagines, fragile thoughts disperse into overwhelming vortices of masks without identity that cover the face of reality...”.
“La strada del Graal” (The road to the Grail) is another dreamy track featuring cryptic lyrics and exotic aromas. Despite the English title, the following track “In The Cave” is sung in Italian and evokes the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice... “Into the bare earth / Hidden to our sight / Lies the gate of Love / Let's remove this mantle / And she will appear...”. The melancholic, reflective “Cristalli di solitudine” (Crystals of solitude) depicts a sad, rainy day in May when you can breathe an air full of ancient memories while the light sound of the water on the river banks follows the rhythm of the wind. Then comes the intense, quirky “Porte straniere” (Foreign doors) that evokes stolen desires and obscure clouds of vanity effacing your fantasies. To find what's true in your heart you have to cross many unknown doors while your worries conceal the path you're walking on... The long, excellent instrumental “Entropia” concludes the album.
Conqueror: Istinto (2003). Other opinions:
Bob Moore: Conqueror is a relatively new band and seems to have successfully fused the best of modern rock, some nuances of symphonic prog arrangements, and Italian expressiveness into a pretty appealing album. Kudos to them for that... Recommend for neo-prog fans and Italian proggers who are willing to look beyond PFM and the seventies for some decent Italian prog... (read the complete review HERE).
Conqueror's sophomore album, “Storie fuori dal tempo”, was released on the independent label Ma.Ra.Cash in 2005, two years after the good debut work “Istinto”. The line-up features here the veterans Natale Russo (drums and percussions) and Simona Rigano (vocals, keyboards and synth) along with new members Sabrina Rigano (flute, sax), Tino Nastasi (guitars) and Fabio Ucchino (bass). The sound quality of the recording is excellent and the new members seem to get along perfectly with the rest of the band. The song-writing is good and the band did a good job combining their own ideas and feelings with sources of inspiration ranging from classical music to Italian prog bands like PFM, BMS, Le Orme or Goblin...
The opener “Ouverture”, featuring well balanced changes in rhythm and melodic passages, is an instrumental that grows like a blossoming flower. It leads to the dreamy “Mosaico di colori” (Mosaic of colours), where Simona Rigano's voice soars weaving a beautiful melody... “My light thoughts travel and blow away as eagles / In a free wind they run and foreign memories write the epilogue... White clouds get lost in a coloured mosaic...”.
The hypnotic, suggestive “No Photo” features an Oriental flavour. Here you can lose yourself under “a ray of moonlight” that seems popping out from “The Book Of One Thousand And One Nights” while Simona Rigano’s vocals could remind you of an ethereal modern Scheherazade... “Now I see again a shadow beside me / It is something I have known for a long time / It grazes me and then it looks at me, here it is, near me / But what’s reality? / If we are prisoners of the world where we live / That decides for us, solitary shipwrecked persons who sail without being free...”.
“Pagine di poesie” (Pages of poems) is another good track that in some passages reminds me of PFM’s “Impressioni di settembre”. The lyrics describe in a poetical way a meeting with an old fisherman. Next comes the beautiful instrumental “Klaus” where quiet melodic passages are well intertwined with more pulsing moments, as if “sounds and voices were looking for an illusion in the silence”.
The final track “Morgana” is a long suite inspired by Sicilian folklore where you can find a blending of Celtic and Mediterranean elements. It tells the story of Morgan le Fay (Fata Morgana), a sorceress who escaped from Camelot on a ship and landed on the Sicilian shores where she built a crystal palace... “The dream lives once again, it renews spells, love and madness...”. The music flows dreamily with many changes in atmosphere and the band showcase great musicianship and inspired song-writing skills. Well, on the whole I think that this is really an album that is worth listening to!
Conqueror: Storie fuori dal tempo (2005). Other opinions:
Tarcisio Moura: It´s the kind of album you hear from beginning to end with the same pleasure. Of course the last song, the 30 minute epic Morgana is the highlight, with its shifting moods and rhythms, nice solos and overall working concept. But the whole CD is actually very good and it will please any prog lover who enjoys melodic music... (read the complete review HERE).