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Merging Cluster play what might be described in modern parlance as Alt-Prog which “intercepts the intensity of e.g. MARILLION, IQ and PALLAS with the tensions of early QUEENSRYCHE”. The line-up is Gabriele Marconcini on vocals, Gianfilippo Innocenti on guitars, Emiliano Galli on keyboards, Roberto Manzani on bass and Marco Casalini on drums.

The opening 10-minute track ‘Dysrationalia’ has interesting stories contained within its lyric, with thoughtful, melodic synth lines, crunching guitars (the prog metal influence then -but an exquisitely visceral solo is also unleashed by Innocenti), and articulate drumming. On the title track the organ work, clever bass lines, soaring guitar and a narrated passage recalls the epic 70s & 80s period of prog rock. ‘Subjective Doubles’ features a gorgeous reflective passage of semi-acoustic guitar, and the ensemble playing on ‘’Gift Undeserved’ is simply breathtaking. ‘The Shadow Line’ roller coasts from gargantuan crunching guitar riffs to a soaring guitar break, with a neat synth solo. ‘Planning the Renaissance’ is hard rocking and organ-driven. ‘Land of the Wait’ is the closest the band comes to a ballad as powerful emotions are expressed amidst the musical harmonics, and the heartrending ‘Over (You)’, based on a brilliant and memorable riff, concludes an album you just won’t want to end.

Destined to become one of the best prog albums of this year (or any other year), Merging Cluster has produced an album that easily rubs shoulders with the MARILLIONs and BIG BIG TRAINs of the prog world, but it’s more than that as they create something new and original out of fertile prog roots.

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