Whoa-ho-ho! The first couple of bars to this powerful progGothrock instrumental extravaganza were deceptive. Opening in a decorous intro, cascading guitars soon came rushing in, lifting Shine up to the clouds in prime Killing Joke / Mission UK / Transiberian Orchestra fashion, not letting up for a moment until the second cut, a classical Spanish opus giving a moment to catch one's breath. That allowed me to find out that, as Atomic Rooster put it, a spoonful of bromide helps the pulse rate go down!
That Night, the second track, trots out a baroque exposition of rather daunting compositional and playing prowess. Alessandro Monopoli, who is Chantry, has taken Brian May as an exemplar and it shows, though, for my money, he has the more hallowed axewielder beat. Queen gave up on trying work this sophisticated right after Night at the Opera. The song is closer to what Peter Green was doing with Oh Well, though Green was never progressive in this particular vein (though his incredible End of the Game remains an almost-unknown standout in guitar music). Stars, the third opus, ushers in Savatage aspects but also makes it obvious that Monopoli is a symphonicist, the more brutal graces of That Night now left somewhat behind. Traces of Jason Becker and Greg Howe also come spilling out during solos here, and the guy emerges as a 100% top-flight guitarist.
Both Stars and Emergence point up the chagrining fact that earlier groups like Deep Purple left off their classicalist approach too soon and could well have dipped in this direction, but the cuts equally signal a very satisfying blend of Purple's Ritchie Blackmore with Yngwie Malmsteen for tech metal proficiency that will have aficionados of the old Guitar Player label eating their hats to get ahold of. Monopoli's a primal force to be reckoned with, and this release rightly should have appeared on a major label. Everything about it shouts 'masterpiece!'. The opening cut carries vocal lines from Federica Sabatini, good stuff too, but the rest of the 43 minutes is purest instrumental dynamite. Step back from the speakers once you've slid the disc in.
The Emancipation of Elizabeth is a requiem for Monopoli's lost love / fiancee, who fell victim to some misfortune that goes unnamed in the promo lit, but she must be glowing in the afterlife to have such a work dedicated to her memory. Meanwhile, those of us still in the here and now have equal reason to smile as our heads are taken off by this whirlwind tour de force…and, phew, I'm going to have to start taking vitamins in preparation for the next release!
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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