Ad Maiora began life in Milan in 2009 on the initiative of a bunch of experienced musicians with a different background but with the common goal of playing their own original compositions influenced by bands such as Genesis, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Yes, Pink Floyd, Premiata Forneria Marconi or Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, just to name but a few. After some line up changes and some live experiences on the local scene, in 2014 they self-released an interesting debut album, Ad Maiora!, with a line up featuring Enzo Giardina (drums), Flavio Carnovali (electric guitar), Moreno Piva (bass, classical guitar), Paolo Callioni (vocals) and Sergio Caleca (keyboards). The name of the band comes from a Latin expression that means to greater things and in some way describes the band's attitude and their wish to find a new way by combining vintage and modern sounds. The result of their efforts is very good and their first album is absolutely worth listening to.
The opener "Diatriba" (Argument) is a tantalizing instrumental piece filled with dark energy. Every now and again I'm reminded of Goblin and in my opinion this track might be a perfect score for a thriller movie. Then comes another charming instrumental, "Sugo Dance", a lively track with a strong Mediterranean flavour and a joyful pace.
The darker "Dream" is the third instrumental in a row and features some aggressive electric guitar riffs and sparse exotic touches that take you on a musical journey under the stars for one thousand and one Arabian Nights, along the Silk Road. It leads to "Eclissi Orientale" (Oriental Eclipse) where the music and lyrics depict the atmosphere and the colours of the bazaar in the city of Aqaba, a sunrise by the Red Sea and a sunset in the desert. Then you get lost in your dreams when the moon meets the sun and lies like a bride on him... By the way, despite the Italian title the track is sung in English and it's a real pity that the band didn't exploit more their native language.
Goblin's influence looms large also over the following "Nulla intenso" (Intense naught), another thrilling instrumental track that evokes nightmarish atmospheres and restless nights. It leads to the apparent calm of "Strange", a reflective, melancholic ballad where the music and lyrics depict a man haunted by crazy dreams and ghosts from his past that make difficult, even painful to him decide to change his way of life.
Next comes the long, complex instrumental "Menate" (the title could be approximately translated as little, silly problems), a nice mix of different moods and atmospheres that leads to the jazzy "Summertime", inspired by George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess and featuring heartfelt vocals and a good electric guitar solo.
|Ad Maiora on stage|
"Corolla" is another excellent instrumental track blending rock and classical influences. Together, all of the petals of a flower are called a corolla... Well, in my opinion this piece evokes a joyful, colourful Celebration of springtime and makes me think of light birds with red feathers dancing a playful tarantella in the sky.
The conclusive "No More War" brings back Middle-Eastern atmospheres. Here the music and lyrics depict a sunny winter morning on the Cheekha Dar and a hot sunny afternoon by the Lake Hammar with children playing and nice green parrots flying. Then comes a quiet, starry night on the desert and you can see the children sleeping and forget for a moment the threatening shadows of the never ending war that still ravages the enchanted Iraqi landscapes...
|Ad Maiora 2014|
On the whole, I think that this is a very interesting work. Anyway, have a try and judge by yourselves: you can listen to the complete album HERE
Ad Maiora: Ad Maiora! (2014). Other opinions:
Michael "Aussie-Byrd-Brother": One of the most varied and unpredictable progressive albums to emerge from Italy in quite some time... Ad Maiora work in everything from symphonic prog, jazz, heavy rock, blues, the romantic prog styling of Camel, and even some of the classical sophistication of the proper RPI/Italian prog bands... `Ad Maiora!' gets the band off to a great start, already setting the bar very high for their future works... (read the complete review HERE)
Thomas Szirmay: This is a dazzling debut album, full of master craftsmanship, thematic creativity, totally memorable melodies and backing rhythms that once again prove vividly that Italian prog is fine and healthy, unlike their plodding economy, piss-poor politics and neurotic soccer team... (read the complete review HERE)