Pentesilea Road – Pentesilea Road
Release Date: 26/02/2021
Running Time: 71:00
Review by Simon Black
This is pure Prog. Originally starting life as a solo effort from all round instrumentalist Vito F. Mainolfi, the outfit has extended over lockdown to a wider project, although clearly Mainolfi remains front and centre given that he is delivering guitars, bass, programming and assorted other instruments. The record has actually been available digitally for a while, with a physical version now available this month.
Opening with the lengthy instrumental ‘Memory Corners’, this band deliver pure 70’s influenced Prog from the opening bars and throughout its, quite lengthy, seventy-one minutes of run time. As you would expect, there’s plenty of instrumental breaks and nearly all of the twelve tracks clock in over six minutes of run time, so experimentation is very much the order of the day. Lorenzo Vincenzo Nocerino has a slightly more edgy vocal tone than is normal for this sort of Prog, where cleaner than clean is the norm but actually it works quite well, but the strongest song is when the vocals open up and goes full on rock mode with the guest appearance of Ray Alder from Fates Warning on ‘Shades Of The Night’ being a good example – although he does feel like he has been added to the mix quite latterly.
Recording remotely through lock down has been a challenge many acts have had to manage in the last eighteen months, but many at least have had the advantage of working together physically before Covid called a halt to travel. That’s important here, because with contributions coming from band members and assorted guests located in The Netherlands, Italy, Spain and the USA who have not worked together face to face there comes the risk of fragmentation.
There is some great playing here and I cannot fault the skill of this, but where the album is weaker is the song-writing. Even though by its very nature Progressive music is not going to opt for over-simplification of song-structure, this one rambles just that little bit too much in many places. It’s worth noting that even the masters of the genre can lose focus in this way though and there’s a fair number of noughties-era Dream Theater records for example that suffer from this sort of meandering and slightly lost feeling. The trick would appear to be to have a strong core song structure and then play around the edges, whereas in this instance the experimental parts have been allowed to predominate. It will be interesting to see if the same thing happens again when all of the players are in the same room together when material is written and recorded, as all this could simply be the product of the fact that the core material is based on Mainolfi’s original demo’s, with everyone else added later and remotely.
In fact ‘demo’ is probably the key word here. This very much has the feel of a record that is only at the pre-production stage and is missing that crucial studio phase when the artists develop their short hand interactive personal chemistry (perhaps more vital in Prog or Jazz than any other musical genres) and where a firm handed producer focusses them on tightening up the arrangements. Get these guys in a room together to polish for a few weeks, then I suspect the end product will be quite formidable.
‘Memory Corners’ (Visualiser)
01. Memory Corners (feat. Mark Zonder)
03. Genius Loci
04. Spectral Regrowth (feat. Mark Zonder)
05. Stains (feat. Michele Guaitoli)
06. Give Them Space (feat. Mark Zonder)
07. Shades Of The Night
08. The Psychopathology Of Everyday Things
09. Noble Art (feat. Ray Alder)
10. Pentesilea Road
11. A Tale Of Dissidence
12. Shades Of The Night (feat. Ray Alder)
Vito F. Mainolfi – Guitars, Bass, Backing Vocals, Programming & Whatever Else
Ezio di Ieso – Pianoforte & Keyboards
Alfonso Mocerino – Drums
Lorenzo Vincenzo Nocerino – Vocals
Ray Alder – Vocals on ‘Shades Of The Night’, ‘Noble Art’
Mark Zonder – Drums on ‘Memory Corners’, ‘Spectral Regrowth’, ‘Give Them Space’
Michele Guaitoli – Vocals on ‘Stains’
Paul Prins – First Solo on ‘Give Them Space’
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