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The Seventh Progressive Rock Wonder

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  • Number three in a string of projects produced by the French label Musea and the Finnish magazine Colossus, The Colossus of Rhodes is The Spaghetti Epic's twin. Both albums were started at the same time, both are two-CD sets consisting of six epics, both are based on movies by Sergio Leone. But this time around, the Colossus team opted for a rather obscure Leone work, a peplum movie that predates his spaghetti Western years. The screenplay has been divided into 12 sections; each participating band was entrusted with two contiguous sections and asked to compose a progressive rock suite based on them. The rules were the same as in the previous projects: no electronics, only vintage keyboards, in the style of '70s Italian prog. By now it is clear that this series of well-conceived concept albums has a way of pushing participants to their creative limits, and The Colossus of Rhodes is another notch above the previous two projects. The main reason is disc one and its trio of stunning tracks. Leviathan's "Un Pensiero E Sempre Libero" has all the right bells and whistles to tickle the fancies of Banco fans, without coming out as a knockoff. It has great themes, strong playing, complex developments, and soul. Greenwall's "The Secret Passage" is the album's undisputed highlight. The group's slightly Baroque writing, its singer's enrapturing voice, and the sound construction of the epic all score significant points. This first disc is rounded up by Sinkadus' "God of Silence," a welcome dose of Scandinavian darkness at this point and one of the group's strongest, most moving pieces to date (although more vocal content would have been nice). Disc two is less stellar, but still quite enjoyable, except for Revelation's pedestrian "A New Dawn," a disappointing anticlimax. But Mad Crayon's "Come Vento Tornero" is up to the high standards of disc one and the Velvet Desperados' harder-rocking "Lords and Knights" is a satisfactory inclusion. As with Colossus' previous projects, the booklet includes a detailed synopsis of the movie and English translations for all lyrics. Highly recommended to prog rock fans. ~ Fran‡ois Couture
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