Not A Good Sign - Icebound - 2018


“... open your mind and enjoy the music. ...”


“Icebound” is the third Not a Good Sign album, that was published on May the 5th 2018. After the self titled debut album (2013) and the “From a Distance” album (2015) both released on the AltrOck label, the band opted for self-production and to distribute the album mainly digitally. However, a limited edition of only 500 CD’s has been manufactured. It’s a numbered, autographed special edition, with a very peculiar manufacture of the jewel case, that makes it visually frosted. Those jewel cases were manually processed by the band members, creating different results each time, making every copy somehow unique. As usual the band changes again its approach, creating a more complex, ambitious and at times abstract album. The production was again in the hands of Marcello Marinone.


Paolo <Ske> Botta - keyboards, glockenspiel; Alessio Calandriello - vocals; Alessandro Cassani - electric bass, vocals; Martino Malacrida - drums, trumpet; Gian Marco Trevisan - electric guitars,vocals

Fabio <Ciro> Ceriani - percussion and sounds; David Jackson - saxes, flute; Eloisa Maners - violin; Margherita Botta - toy glockenspiel, voice; Marcello Marinone - timpano


However the covered topics tend to be linked together, this is not really a concept album. You can find the following 9 tracks on this album; “Second Thought”, “Frozen Words”, “Hidden Smile”, “As If”, “Down Below”, “Truth”, “Not Yet”, “Trapped In” and “Uomo Neve”.

The two and a half minutes instrumental opener “Second Thought” is a typical Not a Good Sign song. A song with strange sounds, heaviness and complexity. Love the violin in this song full of complex rhythms and musically wizardry. Maybe also typical Not A Good Sign is the following track “Frozen Words” that is sung by my favorite Italian vocalist Alessandro Calandriello. After the complex opener you can now enjoy lovely vocal melodies. The band likes to show that contrast in their music. But soon this track develops into a pure progressive rock song with great instrumental parts and rhythm changes. Another personal highlight is the following track “Hidden Smile”. The opening includes beautiful melodies on the violin and the electric guitar of newcomer Gian Marco Trevisan. He already helped the band with their gigs but was now for the first time in the studio with the band. Gradually the song becomes more complex but this complexity is alternated with blissful melodies. Love the melodic guitar parts and the violin parts of guest Eloisa Manera. All this on top of the multi layered keyboards of founder and main composer Paolo <Ske> Botta. At some point the violin brought me some memory flashes of the music of Mahavishnu Orchestra. This comment also indicates the complexity of the music at some points. This is followed by the one minute long Interlude “As If”. It is mainly keyboard oriented and forms a beautiful transition to the delicate opening of “Down Below”. Alessio shows again his qualities as vocalist in this fine track. Sadly he decided to follow a different musical direction and left the band just before the CD presentation of the album. Knowing the spirit of the band this is only another challenge for the band. The band presented the album with a new formation without Calandriello and with percussionist Pacho Rossi on May the 5th in Casa Di Alex, the perfect place for a release party. I think that this fact indicates that I am not far wrong. “Down Below” has a wonderful closing section with some breathtaking and overwhelming guitar work. In the melodic opening of “Truth” you will hear a lovely vocal contribution of guitarist Gian Marco Trevisan. The man wrote this tune himself and proofs that the band has probably the successor of singer Alessio Calandriello already on board. This piece gave me the goosebumps. Also drummer Martino Malacrida impresses me with his fine drumming. And of course do not forget composer Paolo <Ske> Botta, his fine keyboard work is everywhere on this album. “Not Yet” is a minute and a half Interlude with electronica and a beautiful electric guitar melody. Then it is time for another highlight. “Trapped In” is a song with a duration of almost ten minutes and ┬áconsists of intriguing progressive rock music with definitely some VDGG influences that is placed next to the beautiful vocal parts of Alessio Calandriello and breathtaking violin melodies of Eloisa Manera. Those Van Der Graaf Generator influences are highlighted by special guest David Jackson. The ┬ámaster himself contributes with intriguing sax and flute parts. In style this wonderful album ends with mysterious keyboard work of Mr. Botta in “Uomo Neve”.


Every Not A Good Sign album is a roller coaster of complex, ambitious, abstract and beautiful atmospheres. In my opinion this “Icebound” album is their finest achievement so far. I just love the contributions of Eloisa Manera on the violin. This is even broadening the already large musical palette of the band. The special guests, the vocalist and guitar player are stealing some attention from the listener but the driving force behind this consistent album is of course main composer and keyboardist Paolo <Ske> Botta. Again your reviewer is impressed by a wonderful progressive rock album for the open minded music lover. A Good Sign for the Italian band Not a Good Sign. “Icebound” is an excellent album ... just open your mind and enjoy the music.

author - date - rating - label

Douwe Fledderus - July 2018 -   - Independent Release