'Verso est'

(Agoge Records)

MARK: 88/100

This time the good surprise comes from the debut album of the Italian four-piece called Ushas, Sanskrit for "dawn", a Vedic deity, and consequently a Hindu deity as well. Despite their music isn't heavily influenced by Hindu or Tibetan music, the booklet and most of their lyrics are, owing to the guitarist's life path guided by a Tibetan teacher. The axeman is therefore the lyrics' writer, and he's chosen to compose them all in Italian.
The list of the subjects covered is as follows: an outlaw, saints, kings, heroes, banks gone bankupt, being on the road, being on the Silk Road, a journey to Tibet, the roofs of Gaden's monastery in Tibet, the wrathful Buddhist goddess Shri Heruka, an escape by car, ecstasy, dances and illusions, Yama (death's Hindu goddess), a night in jail after breaking in an abandoned house in search for a thrilling night of sex.

The ten songs are a collection of muscular and classy Hard Rock with a few relaxed episodes, and the opener "Fuorilegge" immediately displays roaring or as high as a siren vocals, made precious by an irresistible guitar solo.
"Sangue e carne" contains crushing drums, an acrobatic guitar solo beginning Metal and ending Rock, another excellent refrain and a drums crescendo, whereas "Io non sono qui" starts with a bad-ass riff; an involving chorus, a fiery break and riff and a double kick drum finalé make it my favourite one.
The only composition different than the others is "Via della seta", opened by a melodic beginning by a tampura (a fretless sitar), followed by a slightly distorted guitar arpeggio; this composition was made to have the listener relaxed and that's why the refrain is delicate and dreamy, and the guitar solo doesn't scratch much, yet it has itself remembered due to its elegance and interlacement with the high-pitched vocals.
Mix 80s US HR and the latest Darkness, add a Ska-Rock variation and a guitar solo in the end, then an electronic break and the initial theme again and you're having a full description of the title track, while "Shri Heruka" is Hard Rock with a few electronic beats; not original but effective enough.
The situation is diverse with "Sui tetti di Gaden", with its first part recalling ample, open, green and fresh spaces; when the drums enter the song starts to grow gradually in intensity, until the slow guitar solos and the layers of vocals appear, higher and higher, just before the closure entrusted with Tibetan sounds.
Explosive, tribal, and tight, "Desperados" doesn't let time to take breath and it's not fortuitous it's been chosen to be accompanied by a video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZiDf8b-_yo). The unmissable axe solo pierces us through pleasantly a few seconds before the refrain destined to stick in our brains permanently.
A punishing riff, very heavy drums and the best drum patterns of the album are the main characteristics of "Yama", in which the singer shows all of the power he has in his lungs and vocal chords; a harmonica break preceding the demolishing riff together with insistent and groovy drumming are what comes before a mega guitar solo.
Staright to your face (and ears) the way we like it, "Maledetta notte" reminds me of the best Tesla, driving hard after an acoustic break and effected vocals to the last sonic assault made of guitar solos and licks galore along with thick, fast drum beats.

Today there are too many combos that don't deserve to be released; in the old golden days (the 80s and early 90s) bands used to record demos and had to know how to play, then A&R's knew when it was time for their debut, while nowadays there are so many labels hungry for new outfits that a great deal of young bands end up getting signed before they even put together a full line-up or have ever played live out of their bedrooms; there's so much technology to fake one's playing faults that lots of bands get a record deal when they aren't developed or when they haven't found their right direction yet; for sure, it's not Ushas's case. They've been around since the end of the 90s and only two years ago did they debut on CD, as mature artists and yet not devoid of motivation and inspiration. That's the reason why I believe you could go apeshit over "Verso est" as much as I did. A pretty good effort indeed.


Line-up on this record:
Filippo Lunardo - g., tampura
Giorgio Lorito - v., synth
Guido Prandi - b.
Stefano 'Black' Rossi - d. (session man)

Rome - Italy


Official site:


-Verso est
(CD - 2013)