was composed in 1995, the recording was performed in 1999 and the executive
production was made in 2001, but I suppose it's the first CD for the
Sicilian act; if I were right, I'd have to be stunned because it's something
extremely mature and careful. I don't know as I haven't received any
info but it's no big deal; the point is that "Lo sgabello del
Rospo" is a fairy-tale written in a poetic language and set
to music; it deals with Pauro, a young fellow living in an imaginary
Middle-age, who finds a wood path he heard about when he used to be
a child; not many people have had the luck to discover it; during his
random and solitary way, he escapes from two witches, half-human and
half-toads. He then meets various toads, bringing him to the Queen of
mushrooms Gebbia; he satisfies her sexual desires after a lucullian
meal, it's a mystery how he does, as he's a giant compared to her; anyway,
later he kills the amphibes' arch-enemy in exchange for the event when
the toads saved his life previously.
It's no secret to any child that almost every fairy-tale contains descriptions
of red and white-spotted mushrooms, there are sweets with that shape
and ornaments for Christmas of the same product are sold world-wide;
it's eatable and seems harmless, yet it's one of the most powerful hallucinating
natural products. The Celts and the Vikings were accustomed to using
it for several aims. The whole work is written and sung in Italian,
however suffice it to say that the English name it's known for is 'Toad-stool',
and it's actually the viscid throne for Queen Gebbia.
There's always been a profound and mysterious connection between these
two creatures. Fiaba dedicate this work to all frogs, toads and animals
dying while trying to cross a road.
The opener "La via per la città delle rane"
starts with an arpeggio but then becomes a massive 70's Prog metal piece
where there are also incisive and theatrical refrains; singer Giuseppe
Brancato's voice is very expressive and he's crafty at interpreting
and utilizing different styles when necessary; not a long track but
with a dreamlike ending, right prelude to "Canto dei guardiani
crepuscolari", beginning with another wonderful arpeggio with
Brancato's voice; his calm reciting guides us to a sinister and doomish
sing-song where the drums are slow and shy. The atmosphere becomes tight
and electric again with "La festa della pioggia - Inno alle
gocce", fast and powerful, with supreme vocal lines and a great
break made out of odd central times. For sure one of the highlights
of the CD.
Her Majesty Gebbia orders the prisoner be led to her and that's the
slow beginning of "Al cospetto della regina dei funghi",
a track I adore thanks to the jester and minstrel-like way of singing;
the drumwork is precise and alternates with the guitar interventions,
but it's the singer who makes the harder work, by giving voice to all
the characters (the only other male voice on this record comes from
Salvo Fichera, narrator of this intriguing story); just imagine in the
end of this composition Brancato even equals the strength and tune of
obese Luciano 'fucking' Pavarotti!
"Una cena da re nelle segrete di Acquaria" moves on
bizarre times and obstinate guitar tunes; the rhythm changes and becomes
irresistibly mid-paced while Brancato's voice hides behind my head left
and right crazier than the Mad hatter's and the bass pulsates deep as
usual, thanks to the good mixing.
Delicate, echoed and magic sounds constitute the marvellous "La
stanza dei profumi", describing the love night the main character
has; gradually the song grows, till the climax is achieved with a pounding
interlacement between rhythmic section and an ethereal guitar; the song
never blazes, still you'll be mesmerized by the different vocal passages,
including some charming female vocals; this song comprises a bunch of
extremely dynamic time patterns and changes, the way only a genial Prog
metal/rock band is able to write and arrange.
Pauro kills a snake, Gora, and "La morte di Gora, signora del
lago" winds up perfectly representing the situation with its
guitar riffs and bass lines; this song is decidedly the heaviest of
the batch, especially when one gets to the finalé when drums
and guitars accelerate in an odd time; this is one of the few times
the guitar is not in the background and if the mixing had always been
like this, it would have been better, as it's a pity to hear it so low
in the remaining tracks.
Countless time changes characterize the lengthy title track, and a nice
rhytmic section, fine vocal parts, even a Scottish riff, then a slowdown
as well; Prog metal riffs and a guitar solo follow, all with fragrances
of Rush and Dream Theater; the vocals are once again influenced by 70's
Italian prog rock bands and even by Nomadi's first vocalist on some
occasions! Let's make it clear: I don't like Nomadi but in this high
quality context such a voice is congenial.
The denoument of the song foresees an incendiary riff and afterwards
so touching vocal lines that they give my spine thrills, Jeez! Brancato
is so neat, precise, clever and devoid of decreases; this man has a
perfect diction that I have to deduce he attended courses
of recitation, singing, voice utilizations
and the likes, but in this song he surmounts all his previous peaks.
Add that the recording is good, modern and punchy bar the two guitars
unfortunately; the artwork is generous and nice and there's only a layout
mistake causing the inversion of two pages. Not big faults therefore,
and a surprise to the ones who ignore the widest island of the Mediterranean
has a rich and long Prog tradition, still alive and kicking for your
But of course don't ask me for the rest of the story, since it's worth
you find it out by yourselves...
MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - 12/11/04
Bruno Rubino, via Pitia 36, 96100 Siracusa (Italy)
Tel: +39 0931411055