Every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in…. Prog rock and metal, that is. Having flirted with prog rock many times in my life, I’m never too sure how I’ll find a new band. Sometimes it reminds me of the reasons I get bored of the genre, sometimes it reminds me of why I was so passionate about it. Kingcrow are, without a doubt, the latter. Having not made it to Europe for the festivals yet, I hadn’t heard of this band from Rome, but even within the first few songs, I would consider them fantastic bait to bring me across. “The Persistence”, in short, is a bloody good album.
While there is a lot of love I could unpack for each track, the consistent through-lines for me were the mastery not only of the instruments and tools (a necessity in these kinds of genres) but also a clarity of purpose. It implies a unity among the writers and band in how they want to deliver each track, it’s message, it’s feelings and sounds. While there were one or two small changes I personally felt could have added something, it never felt like a missed opportunity. Instead, each section change, rhythmic move, instrumental choice and vocal line felt like a deliberate decision in service of the song. That, to me, is the hallmark of a great progressive band these days.
‘Drenched’, the opening track, sets the tone beautifully with some sounds that could have come straight out of Dream Theatre’s most popular albums. Diego Cafolla and Ivan Nastasi’s guitar lines jumps along the rhythms set by Manuel Thundra Cafolla and Riccardo Nifosi on drums and bass. This feeling was called up many times throughout The Persistence, and though using interesting guitar lines over a solid rhythm is hardly new, I felt it to be particularly effective. Whether that’s as emphasis in Drenched or as an aggressive tension such as in the title track, ‘The Persistence’, it’s a very welcome focus for this reviewer.
Another thing this album really showcases is how to display influences and other stalwarts of the genre without simply seeming derivative or like a rip off. Sure, there are elements of Pain of Salvation, Porcupine Tree, and others along the way, that’s undoubtable. As with those bands, though, it’s not simply someone regurgitating what came before. Even as these influences come out in tracks like ‘Devil’s Got A Picture’ and ‘Perfectly Imperfect’, they feel much more like anchors to familiarity than an attempt at recreating another’s magic. Rather than feeling like I had heard this music before, I found myself remembering the sort of songs that brought me into those bands, that got me following the genre to begin with. That’s no easy feat, and Kingcrow pull it off without question. Hell, Daniel Gildenlőw of P.o.S even lends his vocals to ‘Nights Descending’, which is pretty strong recommendation.
More than anything else though, the build in these tracks is worth appreciating. A lot of stuff labelled prog can seem like it’s written purely for other musicians, and while that can create some interesting music it also feeds into the elitism that makes this genre so inaccessible to some. That’s why I’m always so pleased when I hear a band like this, who manage to show off their skill and their abilities while still focussing on the overall sense of the song. None of the solos feel out of place, none of the builds come from nowhere nor do the breakdowns seem unrelated to the previous parts of the song. The cohesion that this approach ends up creating is a wonderful thing, accessible to a wide range of people while still staying true to the intention of the music. This may come across to some as overly simplistic, but it can also provide a launching pad for the rest of the music, a solid and reliable base that highlights complexities such that they can appreciated by audiences less familiar with the genre.
“The Persistence” features 10 brilliant and clever tracks, with solid builds, some intense energy, deep water emotions and sounds that evoke all the best parts of the genre. It’s a must have for anyone who enjoys the hybridisation of prog, rock, metal, atmospheric and more.
“THE PERSISTENCE” WILL BE AVAILABLE FROM SEPTEMBER 7TH AND YOU CAN PRE-ORDER IT HERE!