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ARCANSIEL – HARD TIMES (2024) (MaRaCash Records)

Updated: 6 days ago

I love my Italian prog, but this is a new name to me, originating from 1986 and founded by writer Marco Galletti and drummer Gianni Lavagno. I hear that their first two albums “Four Daisies” and “Still Searching” were well-received, with the ‘I’m Still Searching’ suite of particular note. Only Lavagno remains as Galletti was succeeded by Paolo Baltaro for the albums “Normality of Perversion” and “Swimming in the Sand.”

Twenty years on, the triad of Felice Lomabardo, Davide Sorella and Sebastiano Valvo are the composers. As with a lot of new music coming out at the moment, in the group’s words, “the atmospheres and topics represent the difficult times we are facing from a social, cultural and ethical point of view.

I was blown away! Quite simply, the 18-minute opening epic, ‘Too Late’ is prog perfection; it ticks all the boxes for me, and the rest is equally impressive. Many classic prog influences (veering towards symphonic) are at work, too many to list here, but it all sounds fresh and vibrant. The standard of composition and variation is very high, as is the musicianship: Sorella on the keyboards, Valvo on electric, acoustic guitars and vocals, Lombardo on fretted and fretless bass; Leccese is the lead vocalist, while there is a welcome return for Lavagno on drums and percussion. Final track ‘My Old Same Mistakes’ sounds like a long lost GENESIS classic; a cross with CAMEL perhaps in the stunning ending.

A full review will be following in Acid Dragon for sure!

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