Monday, 9 December 2019

UNDER THE ASHES

Il fuoco sotto la cenere is the third album by the Savonese band Il Cerchio d’Oro and was released in 2017 on the independent label Black Widow Records with a renewed line up featuring Franco Piccolini (keyboards), Giuseppe Terribile (bass, guitar, vocals), Gino Terribile (drums, percussion, vocals), Piuccio Pradal (acoustic guitar, vocals), Massimo Spica (guitar) and Simone Piccolini (keyboards, backing vocals). During the recording sessions some prestigious guests such as Pino Ballarini (vocals, from Il Rovescio della Medaglia), Paolo Siani (drums, from Nuova Idea) and Giorgio Usai (organ and vocals, from Nuova Idea and New Trolls) gave their contribute to enrich the overall sound, firmly rooted in the past without losing touch with the present, and the final result confirms all the good qualities of the band’s previous works. The art cover by Stefano Scagni is clearly inspired by the music and lyrics and contains many, more or less hidden, hints to the tracks of this complex, intriguing work where all the pieces deal, one way or another, with the same subject: fire!


The long opener, “Il fuoco sotto la cenere” (The fire under the ashes), begins softly, with the sound of a burning fire in the background and a piano pattern that could recall Goblin... This piece describes in music and words the hidden sense of rage that slowly grows in everyone and sooner or later can burst out eluding the control of human reason. The music follow this thread, going through calm passages and sudden surges of rhythm leading to a beautiful finale in crescendo with an excellent interaction between electric guitar and keyboards. 

The second track, “Thomas” is another long, epic piece. The title refers to Thomas Farriner, a baker in 17th century London whose shop in Pudding Lane was the source point for the Great Fire of London on 2 September 1666. The music and lyrics evoke the smell of bread and the daily work at the bakery, then the raging fire, the flames spreading out, the clouds of dust in the air, the crumbling buildings and the smoking ruins under a dark sky… But Thomas Farriner managed to escape the fire and, in the end, under the ashes there’s still room for hope, there’s the will to start again and rebuild what was burnt off…


The following “Per sempre qui” (Forever here) deals with the hidden fire of nostalgia that burns in the heart of a successful immigrant. The music alternates lively passages that could recall PFM to calm, reflective sections. That’s to mark the contrast between the hectic life of the protagonist in his new homeland and the happy memories of the far village of his childhood...

“I due poli” (The two poles) begins by a dreamy piano section, then the  rhythm rises and the atmosphere becomes tense... This piece tells about a man who, looking in a mirror, can see the duplicity of his personality and feels his inner conflict emerge. Someone calls this character a clown but inside him it’s like if fire and ice were constantly fighting each other to take control over his actions. So, he feels like a flame living under the ashes...


The melancholic “Il fuoco nel bicchiere” (The fire in the glass) deals with alcohol addiction. It begins by a delicate piano solo intro, then the heartfelt vocals interpret the feelings of a lonely, desperate man who every night goes back home staggering on his feet, drunk and lost. His life is nothing but a broken dream to drink up and he feels the fire inside while the irresistible call of alcohol draws him on his way to an infernal place from where there’s no comeback...

The ironic “Il rock e l’inferno” (Rock and hell) describes in music and words a strange dream. A man falls asleep in his armchair in a house near a cane thicket in a rainy, windy night. From the sounds around him a music rises, starting from Brazilian rhythms and exotic flavours it changes into  rock’n’roll. As the man suddenly wakes up the house is on fire and he realizes that rock’n’roll and hell are almost like Siamese brothers...

The last track is the cover of a 1979 song by Ivan Graziani from the album Agnese dolce Agnese, “Fuoco sulla collina” (Fire on the hill). It’s a beautiful piece where music and words describe the dreams of a boy that clash against reality. In fact, in a summer night the boy dreams of joining a battle on the hill, he can even see the fires of the guns and hear the shots. But a man wakes him up from his reveries and points out that what he sees are nothing but the lights of the harvesting farm tractors...

On the whole, I think that this is really a great album where the band successfully blend vintage atmospheres and original ideas.

You can listen to the complete album HERE

Il Cerchio d'Oro: Il fuoco sotto la cenere (2017). Other opinions:
Andrew Cottrell: While there may not be much new here and it could be argued that the band play it relatively safe, it would be churlish to overlook how far this band has come and congratulate them on their fresh sounding, energetic approach. This fire has surely burst out from its ashen covers… (read the complete review HERE)

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