Friday, 19 September 2014

A NEO-GOTHIC LEGEND

The Legend Of The Holy Circle is the second album by Three Monks, an instrumental project from Arezzo led by composer and organist Paolo “Julius” Lazzari and bassist Maurizio “Bozorius” Bozzi. As on the previous album, during the recording sessions they were helped by Claudio “Ursinius” Cuseri and Roberto “Placidus” Bichi who, in turns, took charge of drums. In my opinion, this work, released in 2013 on Black Widow Records, confirms all the good qualities of its predecessor and goes even further with the musicians trying elaborate a real storyline through their music: in fact, according to an interview with the band, this is a concept album, a kind of score for a film that you have to build up. Anyway, there are no liner notes to explain the plot and there's nothing but the music, the art cover by Margherita Zanotti, some pictures and the titles of the tracks to suggest how the story unfurls. All the rest is left to the sensibility and imagination of the listener...


The opener “The Holy Circle” sets the atmosphere with dark pipe organ rides and frenzied bass lines. Traditionally, circles were believed by ritual magicians to form a protective barrier between themselves and what they summoned and the Holy Circle is supposed to be the main line of defence against the forces of the Outside. On the art cover you can see three mysterious characters with their hands stretched out on a strange sphere where shines the light of a dangerous, powerful force while here the music evokes esoteric practices and infernal dances...

The following “Into Mystery” begins by threatening, obsessive bass lines and a hypnotic marching beat, then solemn church-like organ notes soar taking you across dark places where strange rituals are celebrated. It could be the perfect background for the reading of the works of H. P. Lovecraft or Gustav Meyrink...


The Battle Of Marduk” is even tenser. It seems to describe a raging battle against the devils summoned from the other-world. What kind of devils? Well, Marduk is the Babylonian name of a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia associated with water, vegetation, judgement, and magic... Scenes from films like The Mummy or The Scorpion King could come to mind while listening to the different passages of this complex track full of dark energy.

The Rest Of The Sacred Swarm” comes like the calm after the storm. It's a beautiful adagio for pipe organ solo that draws you between the desert aisles of a Gothic cathedral. It leads to “Rieger” where you can experience a breathtaking mystical experience surrounded by strong smells of incense. Th title of this track refers to the Austrian master organ-builder from the XIX century Franz Rieger and in the inner sleeve you can admire a picture of a sumptuous pipe organ in Prague Cathedral...


Next comes the long, complex epic “The Strife Of Souls”, a magnificent track that every now and again reminds me of Emerson, Lake & Palmer and drives you through the many different moods and situations of a terrible conflict between Good and Evil, with angels and demons fighting all around. The brilliant “Toccata Neogotica #5 (Epilogue)” closes the circle evoking the immense force of destiny and waking you up from your uneasy dreams... On the whole a great album that everyone is free to interpret as he likes but that is absolutely worth listening to!

Three Monks: The Legend Of The Holy Circle (2013). Other opinions:
Kev Rowland: This is very much a band, all pulling together in the same direction, showing just how powerful a pipe organ can be in the hands of someone who really knows what he is doing... This is an incredible example of keyboard based progressive rock, and fans of this style definitely need to seek this out... (read the complete review HERE)
Mark Johnson: Sit back and revel in this unique opportunity to emerse yourself in prophetic church organ symphonies without vocals. After all, words would only detract from the music. Thankfully there are still musicians inspired by this form of music still creating... If you like the keyboards playing a primary role in the music you enjoy, then this album is definitely not to be missed... (read the complete review HERE)