Il Balletto di bronzo - Ys
Il Balleto di Bronzo's Ys is an unequivocal classic, and stands as one of the very best albums out of Italy, and perhaps among the finest examples of dark, heavy progressive. However, newbies to the Italian scene might want to approach this one with caution, since it can be tougher to get into than some of the other popular Italian works. This was one of the first Italian albums I got, and I was frankly unprepared for it. The pyrotechnic keyboards, thundering rhythms, the angular, punishing guitars and the abrasive vocals made for a work that I found initially dense and unrewarding. For an album that many have hailed as the best progressive rock album of all time, I was a little disappointed. Of course, I've come around by now, and certainly hold this album in high regard as one of the jewels of Italian prog, but that personal anecdote should serve as a caveat for those expecting to be blown away immediately, especially if not particularly predisposed towards the more dissonant branches of progressive rock.
Still, Ys is a complete monster. The music on here is thundering, cacophonous and simply unrelenting in its sheer, brute force. This also stands as one of the best keyboard-based albums of all time; Gianni Leone employs the full range of classic keys, from Hammond, Moog and Mellotron to piano and harpsichord, pitting them in savage, fiery duels that will absolutely tear your head off. These are contrasted against violent guitar riffs and surging basslines, making for a chaotic, mindbendingly complex ride. The music is punctuated by Leone's caterwauling operatic vocals, which are perhaps the toughest part of the album to get into, but are eventually endearing and nothing if not emotional. Take "Introduzione", an absolute beast of a cut that builds from volcanic climax to climax, as Hammonds and Moog duel it out for supremacy. Take the opening riff of "Epilogo," with its brilliant arpeggiated theme that simply bursts at the seams with intensity. The entire album is a series of mindblowing passages, with few spots of respite to be found. An indispensable Italian classic, without a doubt.
From a Greg Northrup review on "Gnosis"
MINT SEALED reissue on Vinyl Magic