Prog Metal Zone about Feelikescaping: “The music is also so unique and excellent…“
New young band charts their own path within Italy’s fertile progressive metal scene. As many progressive metal aficionados know, Italy could very well have the most active number of bands and like all countries, the quality varies but there are definitely some great Italian bands including some of the longest running top-tier groups like DGM, Eldritch (who ventured over to the thrash side of things before coming back to their prog metal roots with last years’ fantastic Gaia), Evil Wings, Twin Spirits and Empty Tremor as well as a bunch of newer, lesser-known groups like Soul Secret, Solid Vision and Odd Dimension.
Italy has also produced two of the all-time greatest and most adventurous bands around – avant-jazz metal band Ephel Duath and the wonderful heavy mania of Garden Wall.
A lot of great music over the years but the Italians often get a rap for being “just a bunch of Dream Theater clones.” That’s not entirely fair but it’s also got a ring of truth to it as a lot of those bands are squarely in that classic symphonic metal style and, as good as a lot of the music is, these guys have a lot to live up to given the astonishing musical legacy of their 70’s progressive rock forebears. There were so many great bands from that era – not only the well-known ones like Il Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, PFM and Le Orme but a whole host of often incredible bands that did one or two albums and then basically disappeared (Maxophone anyone?). It was an amazing and relatively short-lived scene (1970 to about 1976) and had a distinct sound that was seriously progressive, sometimes extremely adventurous and was probably the most unself-consciously arty of all of the countries that embraced the ambitious and decidedly non-commercial style of prog rock. The music was so cool and original that we all now just refer to it as RPI (for Rock Progressivo Italiano).
Cut to now with the current Italian prog metal scene and as good as some of the bands are, I’ve kind of been waiting for new groups that would rather chart their own path and avoid interpreting existing styles.
That brings us to this week’s new band from Treviso (near Venice), Wood of Light and their debut album, Feelikescaping. Just one look at their band pics (their website photo shows the guys in short hair with ties) and you can tell that metal might be a powerful aspect to their sound but they’re probably going be something very different from a lot of other more traditional metal bands. As the band itself says on its website, “Wood of Light” is to be interpreted as a “ray of light that comes and stands in a traditionally dark place (the wood)”. They also state that they “there is no intention to seek the consent of the classic or potential metal fans.” Well said, and for starters, the band is led by keyboardist Osvaldo Indriolo which is rare in and of itself to have a metal band’s sound led by the keys and not the guitar. They’re also very light on soloing, mostly going after mood, texture and a somber melancholy that almost always resolves positively. Osvaldo is a very sensitive pianist and it seems that he’s always striving for the right sounds to fit mood they’re going after.
Wood of Light’s music is very light on “shredding” and focuses mostly on groove, mood, heavy textures and melodies mixed in with some gorgeous, ethereal keyboards (mostly piano) and Simone Colman’s beautiful, melancholy voice. The album starts with a plaintive intro song with just bass and voice before going into Mr. Lone Star, a song which really epitomizes the light/dark aspect of the music offsetting heavy guitar with majestic keyboard lines and then brings in a beautiful vocal melody. This is a great illustration of the band’s ethos of combining light and dark textures, often in the same song. The Man Who Knows His Fate begins with an impressionistic piano intro to another melancholy vocal melody before really kicking it in with a dark heaviness offset by a great keyboard counter-melody which again beautifully illustrates the band’s conception of lightness emerging from darkness. My favorite song on the album is probably The Rot-ten Apples which begins with a drum and bass groove and then quickly heads into some intense off-kilter heavy chords, some very moody keyboards offsetting another great plaintive vocal melody (along with some excellent vocal harmonies). There’s a wonderful, cool, light but somewhat melancholy groove section at the end of the song that is just really gorgeous and I hope that the band can explore this type of feel on subsequent albums.
The album is a bit short, only about 35 minutes but packs a ton of ideas in such a short space. The music is also so unique and excellent that it does feel like a much longer album and that the band also achieved all that they set out to do with this very polished debut. I can’t state this enough but Feelikescaping is a very subtle album that doesn’t hit you over the head with over-the-top theatrics or bombast but upon repeated listens really rewards the listener as he gets to really know the music.
You can listen to the album via the ReverbNation link below and if you like it and want to pick up a copy you can do so via the iTunes link at the end of this review.
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