Civico 23 began life in Rome in 2010 on the initiative of Massimo “Joe” Galatone and Lorenzo Gaudino with the aim to blend classic rock with new sounds. After a demo and an intense live activity in the Roman area, in 2013 the band released an interesting début album on the independent label Lizard Records titled “Siero progressivo” (Progressive serum) with a line up featuring Massimo “Joe” Galatone (vocals), Lorenzo Gaudino (basso), Daniel Parisi (lead guitar), Federico Cianfarra (rhythm guitar), Simone Mastrodonato (organo, piano, keyboards) and Francesco Cossio (drums). The result of their efforts is a personal “NeWintage” music (as they define it) full of raw energy and irony with a strong theatrical approach and influences ranging from Banco del Mutuo Soccorso and Premiata Forneria Marconi to Joe Cocker, Neil Young, Dream Theater and many more.
The opener “Umida cenere” (Wet ash) begins with an electric guitar arpeggio. Then, out of the blue, the music and lyrics conjure up hard images of desolate, dark streets where drug dealers and pimps rule over men and women who burn their life under a gloomy rain before getting lost into the black, as wet ashes swept away by a hurricane.
“Il menestrello” (The minstrel) is a short narrative introduction to the following “Il cavaliere illuso” (The deluded knight) , a long, complex track that alternates heavy guitar riffs and calmer moments, fiery organ rides and acoustic passages. It tells the story of a knight who kills a dragon and later realizes that he did the wrong thing since the dragon was there only to protect the town. The ungrateful townsfolk are far from happy for his noble deed since the dragon used to feed on hatred and negativity giving peace in exchange. So, eventually, the knight runs away and shelters in the forest, ashamed and regretful. In some way this track reminds me of another Italian prog band called Fiaba.
“Urano” (Uranus) tells in music and words about a cathartic voyage toward Uranus, the seventh planet from the sun, named after the ancient Greek deity of the sky. It starts softly, then a sudden burst of energy marks the take off towards deep purple skies. Along the way you could die working in slavery, haunted by apocalyptic visions and then come to life again with a new hope... “Stand up!”.
“Paura infinita” (Infinite fear) features a heavy atmosphere where the music and lyrics evoke gloomy, infernal figures moving behind the black face of Death, wildly dancing on the deck of a pirate ship... “Forests of fire / Deserts of sulphur / Come on damned! Dance with me! / You're welcome in my Hell...”.
“Aureo” (Aureus) is a short narrative piece which sets the atmosphere to the following “I sette angeli” (The seven angels), an apocalyptic ballad evoking seven angels carrying death and destruction on earth. After their passage there's nothing left but dust, ash and silence, then a woman crowned with stars appears in the sky bringing a new hope. She's ready to give birth to a new messiah, a new sun is going to rise and you can't do nothing but hope in a better world...
“Delirio ad occhi chiusi” (Delirium with eyes closed) begins with a delicate piano pattern, then the rhythm rises bringing a positive energy along with odd dreams and strange sensations. Only keeping your eyes shut you can fly over the towers of the prophets discovering humble, fragile secrets and see the infinite throughout the light that for centuries has been hiding it... “I want to shout on a distant music / As the wind blowing on a volcano that is going to erupt...”.
The long, complex “L'ultimo grido di Galeria” (The last scream of Galeria) is my favourite track on this album. Galeria is a ghost town that lies near Rome and was completely abandoned by the inhabitants in 1809, probably on account of a malaria epidemic. This piece depicts in music and words a traveller who walks among the ruins of the ancient buildings in wintertime. He can still hear the songs of a minstrel carried by the wind or the screams of pain of some lost souls still echoing all around...
A last short narrative track, “Rimane il mare” (It remains the sea), concludes the album with sparks of fairy tales and poetical visions... “In the beginning it was silence, then wind and rain came / And the sea with its ever changing wave / Then came the man with his wars and no solution / Then music came, primordial sounds / And in the end, in the very end / The wind was gone, and the man with his heart of pain was gone too / There was nothing left but the sea / A sound that can replace every human sound...”.
On the whole, a good work that is really worth listening to.
You can listen to the complete album in streaming HERE