Released: 2010, Scarlet Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Kingcrow is an Italian progressive rock outfit that’s apparently been around for over a decade, so color me embarrassed for just now discovering the band via their impressive fourth full length release, PHLEGETHON. “Progressive” has become a pretty broad genre definition, encompassing pretty much anything from your Dream Theater types to anybody with a full time keyboard player, but Kingcrow are the real deal. Closer to bands like OSI, Porcupine Tree, and a good dose of latter day Fates Warning and Queensryche, PHLEGETHON offers 12 tracks of tastefully crafted and engrossing prog rock.
The title, PHLEGETHON, comes from Greek mythology, as one of the five rivers of the underworld. And while not a concept album, PHLEGETHON does have a persistent dark thread that links each of the tunes together. As the pseudo-intro “The Slide” opens with the sound of waves crashing upon the shore, the foreboding synth lines and Diego Marchesi’s smooth vocals cooperate to build a sense of cautious anticipation. The instrumental “Timeshift Box” picks up without missing a beat, and gives the band a chance to show off their chops. “Islands” is where the album really picks up steam, with its dark, folk influence and sorrowful vocal lines, while the ballad-esque “Lullaby For An Innocent” has a definite DARK SIDE OF THE MOON vibe to it, full of rich, psychedelic harmonies. By the same token, the band is capable of writing some straight ahead punchers like “Evasion” and the title track. And while the songs twist and turn between each other, they each work together amicably.
The album is well produced and the songs sound expectedly slick. The mix is great, with all of the instruments coming through bright and crisp, which is important as there’s a lot going on musically. While not as showy as a band like Symphony X, the solos, time signatures, and general arrangements are complex enough to keep most prog-snobs content. While Kingcrow may not be aggressive enough for some reading this, consider it your loss. PHLEGETHON is a well composed and beautifully executed release – a true album experience best consumed from start to finish. Definitely one of my more pleasant discoveries of 2010, PHLEGETHON is available through most retail music outlets.