Every Law has a loophole. progVisions only reviews albums released during the year in course or the year before. But this album –released in 2000- has been sent to me by the band this year, and I think I´d be disrespectful to the band if I don´t review it. In the same way I think it´s a charity to break the rule because the album is a masterpiece.
“Faust” is the second album of this band that comes from metal world and achieved good reviews with the debut album “New Life” (97), influenced by English neo. Now this quartet formed by Marco Fiorina (bass), Mauro Ghilardini (keyboards and piano), Gianpaolo Pasini (drums), and Michele Savoldelli (guitars) focuses on the heritage of Italian progressive rock in order to release an immortal album, like Goethe.
This conceptual album consists of six tracks and an intro. There are five characters-singers (Mario Bertasa (narrator), Mauro Ghilardini (Faust), Davide Ferrari (Mephistophele), Giorgio Sala (Pater Estaticus), and Silvia Semperboni (Margaret))
After the “Preludio” (1:20), only spoken, the album starts with “Bellatrix” (5:28) and there we´ll find beautiful acoustic guitars and Mauro´s operatic voice. Every lyrical elements of Italian progressive rock are collected here, even in the final nice guitar solo. “Mefistofele” (8:55) starts with an instrumental development that reminds me of bands like Le Orme or Quella Vecchia Locanda. Pasini´s frantic drums contrasts with Mauro´s voice as the keyboards creates a classical atmosphere and Savoldelli takes nice notes from his guitar. Around the middle of the track Mellotron´s sounds forms a web, and over that web there´s an amazing interplay between guitars and keyboards. Finally we´ll find some metal guitars along with Ferrari´s voice and some “satanic” choruses. “Il Castello” (6:52) begins in a soft way but suddenly guitar cuts the atmosphere creating an ambient that reminds me of Marillion´s “Chelsea Monday”, with some classical sounds (harpsichord). “Faust” (9:49) shows power and lyricism at equal shares, with lots of elements taken from Italian progressive rock but also with the melody of English neo in guitars and keyboards solos. But where we´ll notice the melody at its best is in “La Neve” (7:52), a sort of ballad in crescendo that makes the listener´s hair stand on end. The vocal duet between Silvia Semperboni and Mauro Ghilardini is wonderful. The narrator returns in “Finale” (4:17) but this time his voice is wrapped by a nice piano and the clarinet played by Giuseppe Peracchi.
I suppose somebody still think that after Le Orme, Banco, or C.A.P. there´s no quality in modern Italian prog rock. Well, it´s up to them. But Minstrel proves that not only Le Orme is the only interesting band in current Italian prog rock. There are bands that hold the flame of the style giving some varnish of new ideas.
If you like lyrical Italian prog rock (Allusa Fallax, New Trolls, or even Banco) this album is for you. Anyway if you have sensibility, this album is also for you.