Issue 2018-062

Round Table Review

Kingcrow - The Persistence

Kingcrow - The Persistence
Country of Origin: Italy
Year of Release: 2018
Time: 55:00
Links:
Track List:
Drenched (5:34), Closer (4:56), Everything Goes (4:15), Folding Paper Dreams (7:02), The Persistence (7:09), Every Broken Piece Of Me (6:50), Devil’s Got A Picture (5:04), Night’s Descending (4:53), Father (4:36), Perfectly Imperfect (5:05)

Andy Read's Review

A lot of research has been done to discover how many times an individual has to see something, before the message gets through. In particular, this relates to the world of marketing. Of course there are many variables, but the general consensus seems to be around the Rule Of Seven. This marketing adage says that someone who is open to your message, has to see or hear it seven times before they will take action.

Now, if you spend any time with the lyric sheet for this album, you will realise that there is a clear and very personal concept that relates to the album title. However, I'd like to come at it from a slightly different angle.

Here at DPRP Towers we do like to boast whenever we are ahead of the game. Where we have been telling all who are willing to listen, that a certain band is worthy of wider attention. In the case of Kingcrow, we have been doing that for 15 years. (Sometimes the general record-buying prog public can be a little slow to catch on.)

From Insider back in 2003, to my debut Kingcrow review for Timetropia in 2006 and onto 2010 and what is often cited as their best album, Phlegethon.

We then tried a bit harder, with special Duo Reviews of In Crescendo (2013) and Eidos (2015).

A total of seven reviews (that number again!). Not once has a score of less than 8 out of 10 been given.

Now we bring you a full Round Table Review. As I write this, the album has been out for almost three weeks. It is sitting high on the best sellers lists in both the progressive rock and progressive metal categories on Bandcamp. Kingcrow has just completed a highly successful tour with Pain of Salvation and reviews across the board have been outstanding.

"Under-rated", "underground", and "undiscovered". A lot of "un" words have been used to describe Kingcrow in recent years. That will now come to an end. The message seems to have finally got through.

The following three reviews cover this new album in some detail, and view it from three very different angles. I'd like to emphasise just two points.

Firstly: I have the advantage of working from the real CD. It sounds superb on my full system. Of particular note is the depth of emotion to be heard in the voice of Diego Marchesi. It is a true pleasure to hear how he has grown into one of the best singers of his generation in this genre. The fact that he more than matches guest singer Daniel Gildenlöw on Night’s Descending is no mean achievement. Incidentally, this is one of the best songs you will hear in 2018.

Secondly: this is most certainly an album that rewards repeat and proper listens. On one hand, the ten tracks tend to follow a certain formula and sound. There is absolutely no showcasing, with solos kept to a minimum. On the other hand there is a depth and complexity to the songwriting that slowly emerges as one becomes familiar with the more obvious melodies and the ebb and flow of the heavy and light atmospheres. As I pass into double-digit listens, it is the small details added by the guitars and especially the keyboards that I cherish the most.

The Persistence is the seventh release from this Italian sextet. And if you follow the Rule Of Seven, then the persistence of Kingcrow is about to finally pay off!

Once you too have fallen in love with this album, then I would strongly recommend you read through the above-mentioned reviews, sample some of the songs and start working backwards to update your collection of essential progressive rock and metal albums of the past two decades.

Raimond Fischbach's Review

With their newest effort, The Persistence, the Italians in Kingcrow finally arrive at the prog-olympus. After six releases in 17 years, in which they have managed to develop their musicianship and musical craftsmanship, they seem to have found the perfect formula to keep their incredible versatility limited to a certain field of interest and to shape an album which is way more focused than its predecessors.

Don’t get me wrong, I love versatility very much and I have enjoyed it on their previous albums. It was just that it always felt to me a little like listening to progulus.com, an internet station that has all forms of progressive rock and metal in one stream. I sure got that feeling because I know that the band’s main-man Diego Cafolla has been a fellow listener to that station over the years, and I always felt that the randomness of a radio stream has left a scar on his album-crafting skills.

Anyway, this little burr has become a thing of the past and The Persistence has become an album smithed together in one piece that really gives you shivers when you listen to it in its entirety.

Out of his treasure chest of progressive education, Diego and his men have selected their greatest influence, the noughties era of Porcupine Tree (the metal-oriented part of it) and spiced it with sounds that remind me of Dream Theater, Haken, Pain Of Salvation and Opeth*, to name a few. The outcome is an incredible composition full of different emotional shifts and saturations, which never ceases to amaze. The instrumentation somehow is a bitch. It sounds rather light, easily accessible, but the more often you spin it, the more details you discover, and you will find out in time how complex this is musically.

The album is nearly perfect. Nearly. The one thing that bothers me is the treatment of the vocals. Being severely compressed in dynamics, processed with a very short room reverb that applies a sort of phasing effect and is then kept rather quiet in the mix, the vocals have a rather technical, impersonal and non-emotional approach, which is quite outdated. It somehow suggests that the vocalist doesn't have a better approach to offer, which appears untrue. Because on Night’s Decending a song of a rather POS-ish approach, that barrier is broken and it becomes obvious what a beast Diego Marchesi is, when being let out of that cave. But besides that, this album is a must-have in all collections that cherish some melodic progressive metal.

André de Boer's Review

We've had a superb triple set (or trinity) of Kingcrow albums over the last few years. Phlegethon in 2010 (which I rated 9.5), In Crescendo in 2012 (rated 9) and Eidos in 2015 (rated 9.5). Yes, you're probably right in that I am a bit biased. The first of these albums seemed to be my piece of cake, and seeing these guys play the ProgPower Europe Festival in 2011 turned me into an addict. Now we have this new album, The Persistence in our hands. Our Kingcrow friends have continued in existence and persisted in pleasuring our ears and hearts. The sole chance in the line-up has been the departure of Francesco D'Errico (bass) to be replaced by Riccardo Nifosi.

And with Drenched kicking things off, it is clear that composer Diego Cafolla has been very successful in following up, or even surpassing, our expectations in these first five-and-a-half minutes. Bang! The conclusion is drawn. Kingcrow is alive and kicking.

Closer uses some great riffing to get us closer to Kingcrow's heavenly musical skies. This gradually fuses into Everything Goes (as planned?). This is such a wonderful track, leaning both to easy-going and heavy guitars and vocals.

A piano with light, soothing vocals and harmonies emphasise our dreams (whenever they come) in Folding Paper Dreams. A typical high quality, seven minute song by these Italian youngsters. What's not to love!

Next up is the title track. The Persistence is about the never-ending struggle to keep things in line, as Diego Marchesi sings, and tells the story of many bands, including Kingcrow. It's always hard to reach the top, to keep following your dreams and to stay on top. Kingcrow has had its share of challenges, yet still succeeds to keep in line, to keep on top, and to get even better.

The first minute of track six, Every Broken Piece Of Me, looks like a pause is been granted to the listener. Fake news, luckily! Loud sections rule and will get you out of your mind, flipping, shouting and dancing. Now Devil's Got A Picture, driven by Thundra Cafolla's pounding drums, gives us a very energetic track, interluded by some quiet keys by Christian Della Polla.

And now for the best of the formidable songs that this thoroughly impressive album holds. It is called Night Descending. A perfect mix of moods, instruments and vocals. Their most impressive song ever? I can only tell you that after listening to this song played live. I think all of an audience together will shiver and explode, especially if they can find a way to stretch this song onto, say, at least ten minutes! On the album, guest singer Daniel Gildenlöw (of Pain of Salvation) takes credit.

The penultimate track, called Father, must be on a personal subject. "Talk to me," implores Diego Marchesi. "Wondering what you think of me," he questions, while Ivan Nastasi and Diego Cafolla do their very best to rip the snares from their guitars and Christian to bang the keys out of his keyboard. This is a fantastic compositional adventure, that is a joy to listen to.

The closing track has the strange name Perfectly Imperfect. Does it reflect the absolutely unnecessary uncertainty of the band? Please give us a chance? Please guys, forget that instantly, as this song reflects you are in line and on top of the world with the strength of a lion.

The Persistence comprises ten fabulous compositions, by five fabulous artists. The triangle has become a square. The pentagon awaits. Another long awaited album, that is again likely to be my best album of the year. A Nobel Prize in music awaits?

Alan Weston's Review

I'd like to start my review with a quote from the press release. “Describing Kingcrow today is quite a difficult task, but one could state that the influence of different kinds of music, from progressive rock, ambient music, alternative rock and metal are all present.”

The music here is often, but not always, a relentless, beautiful barrage of heavy, riff-strewn rock gems, over a large, atmospheric synth/string tapestry, which all lends itself to a serious, big wall of sound. If you think of Porcupine Tree's Richard Barbieri's function within that band, you get an idea of maybe what I'm talking about in terms of sonic texture backdrop. I heard many influences in here but was most reminded of Pain Of Salvation, Riverside and of course elements of Steven Wilson.

Every song is accessible, with some great vocals (Diego Marchesi is superb), brilliant musicianship, and excellent melodies throughout. What more can you ask for?

Well, it's an album where the sum of the parts are less than the whole. Individually, the songs are great and they would be a pleasure to listen to if they came up occasionally on 'shuffle' mode. None would score less than eight out of ten. What this album suffers from is predictability and a lack of progressive subtlety.

By the time I got to track ten, I knew what to expect. After an atmospheric, melancholic intro I was thinking: “It won't be long before the band come thundering in with that large wall of sound again”. They have used a blueprint for this album that has ensured a homogeneous sound and approach throughout. It would have been great if one or two of the songs had been delivered acoustically and if the drummer had been given the day off or found a set of congas or the like to add some variety. By the way, the drummer is excellent.

The other niggle for me was the lack of guitar solos. Where they do appear, it makes those songs more prominent. There is a fine, subtle, heartfelt guitar solo at the end of Folding Paper Dreams, which is too short, but initially I thought: "Six tracks to go, and there's bound to be more of this." I was wrong.

The other track with a guitar solo is Night's Descending which starts off with the usual melodic, plaintive intro before everyone gets in on the act. The vocals are again excellent with Daniel Gildenlöw guesting. The solo is rockier and more soaring than the previous one and compliments the song really well. Alas, there is not enough of this!

This is a brilliantly produced album, with large, heavy sonic soundscapes, superb vocals and a solid sound. Definitely an album to check out regardless of my prog reservations. I really enjoyed it.