Thursday, 13 March 2014

THE GOLDEN SHIELD

Egida Aurea is a project that began life in Genoa in 2006 on the initiative of Diego Banchero and Carolina Cecchinato, both coming out from the experience with another band called Recondita Stirpe. After a first Ep released in 2007 and titled Storia di una rondine, in 2010 they released an excellent full length début album on the independent label HR!SPQR, La mia piccola guerra (My little war), with a line up featuring, along with Diego Banchero (bass, backing vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitars) and Carolina Cecchinato (lead and backing vocals) also Fernando Cherchi (accordion), Marco Garegnani (acoustic guitars), Claudio Dondo (keyboards), Davide Bruzzi (electric guitars), Roberto Lucanato (acoustic guitars), Max Mantovani (drums) and Antonio Losenno (percussion) plus some backing vocalists. Despite the numerous musicians involved in the recording sessions and the tight links with bands such as Il Segno del Comando or Il Ballo delle Castagne, on this work the acoustic atmospheres prevail and there's always a perfect balance between music and lyrics. The main sources of inspiration range from neo folk to Italian canzone d'autore, but the musical recipe is sprinkled with a nice progressive taste and Mediterranean flavours.

Egida Aurea 2010

The first two tracks evoke some dark ghosts from the seventies, the Years of Lead. The title track is a beautiful ballad dealing with the issue of terrorism. There's a warm empathy in the vocal parts sung by Carolina Cecchinato while the lyrics try to explore the feelings of a young woman who chooses the clandestine ways of armed fight to express her contempt against what she perceives as a tyrannical society... “I will carry with me your words, a few rags and these guns / Maybe I wasn't made for love / Everyone who was born wolf will never fly... The way of spiritual life is not disconnected from action...”. There's no celebration of terrorism here but an effort to understand why so many young people, both of the right and of the left wing, in the seventies chose the deathly ways of extreme political fight after fighting a tearing inner combat with their conscience.

album cover

Memorie di gesta” (Memories of deeds) is a lively track that in some way celebrates an episode of urban guerrilla. A mob charge the police who have to retreat, a young woman observes the scene and after an inner struggle decides to join the rioters. There's empathy in the vocals but here violence is kept in the background as the memories of that day emerge from the past like a flash of light that cuts the darkness. According to their website, Egida Aurea's project is not politically committed but simply deals with the artistic side of an extinct past and an oppressed present, and intends to stay away from the way modern world is run. So, it doesn't matter if these memories come out from the seventies or refer to the riots in Genoa during the G8 in 2001, the lyrics just invite you to reflect about the reasons of such a kind of behaviour... “In these leaden forest / Memories of deeds echo right now / In this anomalous day / Where delay gives room to action...”.


Il passo dell'esule” (The pace of the exile) is reflective and melancholic. There's a feeling of nostalgia, the lyrics are partially sung in English and depict a man drenched in a deep sorrow who has to leave his land on account of his ideals. Time flies... “No East no West no lands to reign / No time to stay with you again / No seas to sail no walls to scrape / But only salt lakes of pain...”. The instrumental coda is excellent, but maybe too short!

Gli sguardi nel sole” (The glances in the sun) is a nice ballad about time passing by. The youth is gone but broken hopes and dreams are still blowing in the wind... “Can you stop Time? / When it flows running after the wind / Into my memories I escape from reality / I look at the sun, as it once was... / The wind is still singing / With words that I can't forget...”.


Lo zar non è morto” (The tsar is not dead) features atmospheres and rhythms that recall Don Cossacks. According to an interview with the band, the lyrics represent not only a criticism against the era of the Soviet Union but an effort to explore the poignant sense of identity and nationality of Russian people that is so difficult to understand in the Western World.

Epifania di una chimera” (Epiphany of a Chimaera) is calm and reflective. It deals with social changes and new ideas. The birth of an idea is never the result of one mind, that thought appears simultaneously in a thousand other souls... “Already new acolytes are joining the new vision of the world / Light of a new dawn, plague the curtain of darkness!”.

Egida aurea” (Golden aegis) is an ethereal ballad featuring strummed acoustic guitar and a martial rhythm. In Greek mythology the aegis was a shield carried by gods as Zeus or Athena. Here the word is used in a metaphorical sense, as a way of life to survive in a world that is crumbling, where order and ideals melt and every resistance is useless.


Il congedo” (Farewell) recalls some atmospheres from Fabrizio De André's album Storia di un impiegato. The lyrics evoke the final farewell of some losers, some people who lost their battle against an oppressive society and now get ready to meet their destiny on the gallows with a smiling face and an intact pride. This piece reminds me of Alexandre Dumas' novel The Companions of Jéhu...

The final track, “L'ultimo valzer” (The last waltz), features a slow, solemn pace and describes in music and words an imaginary funeral, the funeral of civilization that flows under the rain in sad day where faith, ideals and memory get lost.

On the whole, I think that this is a very interesting album. Music and lyrics are tightly bound and non Italian speaker might miss many nuances, but I really think that this work is worth listening to, especially if you like bands such as Ianva or Il Segno del Comando.

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