As many progressive rock aficiandos know very well, most European countries had their own distinct flavor of 70’s prog rock and it’s quite possible that the Italian scene (or Rock Progressivo Italiano – RPI) was the most illustrious of all. Not only were there the top tier bands like PFM, Banco, Le Orme and my personal favorite, Area, there were hundreds of other bands, many of whom produced only one or two masterful albums before disbanding. The music was often extremely sophisticated and drew from a wide range of regional folk, classical and psychedelic influences mixed with the heady and often gloriously self-indulgent music of the time.
With the advent of progressive metal in the late 80’s and early 90’s a ton of Italian bands embraced the challenge of the new form. While the scene wasn’t as distinctively Italian than the earlier progressive rock scene was, it’s quite possible that there have been just as many prog metal bands as there were prog rock ones! The knock on the Italian prog metallers is that they too often took their cue from the symphonic style popularized by Dream Theater. While it’s true that the DT style resonated in Italy, I prefer to judge the bands on their own merits and Italy has produced some of the coolest and longest lasting bands in the genre, including Eldritch, DGM and the more adventurous insanity of Ephel Duath and Garden Wall.
Soul Secret is one of the newer crop of bands having formed in 2004 and releasing their first album “Flowing Portraits” in 2008. After a few lineup changes, the band has produced the excellent record, “Closer To Daylight” and it’s a great, classic style, melodic progressive metal album. While I don’t think the album has enough originality to make it a classic, the melodies are excellent, there’s a fair dose of fusion-inspired technicality and the band has a ton of acoustic textures (just check out the gorgeous piano intro on “The Shelter) to offset the heaviness. I also love the great Latin influenced intro on “Pillars of Sand” and the album’s beautiful closer, the 16-minute epic, “Aftermath” has the added bonus of having the wonderful, distinctive vocals of Subsignal’s Arno Menses. Finally, if you happen to be a fan of one of the greatest guitarists in prog metal, Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie, Creation’s End) guest solos on River’s Edge. So, if you’re in the mood for excellent melodic prog metal, please check out Soul Secret via the Spotify playlist below.
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