Exposé Online banner

Conqueror — Stems
(Ma.Ra.Cash Records , 2014, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2014-11-26

Stems Cover artThis Italian band was unknown to me before Stems arrived, and from the name I would have guessed they play cheesy prog metal, probably rife with fantasy references. And I would have been completely wrong. This is classic Italian symphonic prog, and really well done at that. Keyboards are the dominant factor, and there's a lot of robust organ sound, as well as some great squiggly synthesizer leads. Ture Pagano's guitar doesn't slip into any metal-style chugging, and the leads are good, sometimes evincing bluesy touches slightly reminiscent of David Gilmour, mostly playing lines that weave in and out of the keyboard parts, providing the interplay that is one of the band's highlights. Keyboardist Simona Rigano also provides the band's vocals, and while the instrumental sections dominate timewise, the vocals are solid and pleasant, usually overdubbed with harmonies. Her voice is pure and sweet, with a lovely tone and crisp enunciation of the Italian lyrics, and the melodies are tuneful without being poppishly simplistic. The compositions (all credited to the group as a whole) are varied and interesting, mixing up the tempos, time signatures, and tonalities. My only complaint — and it's a minor one — is that a little more grit would be welcome, maybe a touch of distortion on the organ or electric piano at times, or an occasional snarl in the vocals. But that's a quibble, this is an enjoyable listen, and worthy of the attention of anyone who's a fan of the Italian classics.

Filed under: New releases, 2014 releases

Related artist(s): Conqueror

Latest news

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Odin - SWF Session 1973 & Live at the Maxim – Along with the reissue of this quartet's amazing self-titled debut album from '73 (which originally appeared on the Vertigo label), Long Hair has released these two collections of archival recordings,...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues