I am unforgiven, I know – this review comes with great delay but time seems to be running with great pace, even if you are on the Camino de Santiago. Randone’s “Ultreia” is my first experience with the band and one of the few with modern RPI. It is based on Nicola Randone’s experience of the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage of which I was largely unaware. “Ultreia” is part one of three of a series of albums that Randone are preparing.
The concept of the “Way of St. James” is inseparable from the music, the lyrics and the vocals on this album. The very personal experience of Nicola Randone is embroided on every aspect and I would recommend reading the lyrics to fully understand the expression of this record. Irrespective of this, the theatrical and passionate character of the vocal performances (male and female) are driving the quality here, along with the plethoric and diverse use of a number of keyboard sounds and different instruments, including flute, harp and harmonica among others.
“Ultreia” sounds like tradtional RPI but played in a modern way and examples of this can be found in “Mariposas” with the hammond sounds and fusionesque clean electric guitars or in “Qui ed Ora”. The remake of the traditional “Soy Peregrino” with the operatic vocals of Carmelo Corrado Caruso and heavy guitars makes it a total, but rather short, highlight of the album. The influence of classical music on Nicola’s guitar playing is evident and this blends nicely with the very optimistic, even if at times melancholic, atmosphere. This optimism primarily appears at the opening and closing stages of the album with more dynamic tracks, while the middle part generally hovers around lower tempos. Symphonic prog metal makes its appearance on “Hasta la vista Diego”, another highlight, and the middle part of “Rosa”, proving the diversity of the music, making it an album with no obvious weaknesses but perhaps an acquired taste…
Symphonic, operatic, vintage, modern and optimistic, “Ultreia” is worth going the way to explore it, even for those not very acquainted with RPI, like me.