Alphataurus - Alphataurus
The self-titled Alphataurus album was one of my earliest ventures into the world of Italian progressive rock, and today stands, in my eyes, as one of the unequivocal classics of the scene. Stylistically, the group falls squarely into the heavy progressive mold, sitting nicely alongside bands like Il Balleto di Bronzo and especially Museo Rosenbach. Alphataurus incorporates something of a bluesy, hard rock-ish vibe in along with frenzied Hammond riffs and thundering mellotron movements, combining for a shuddering attack of unparalleled power and energy. The vocalist has a raspy, earthy tone that lends itself perfectly to the alternately exquisite and violent instrumental underpinning. Despite the aggressive stance of the band, the melodies here are absolutely gorgeous when the band wants them to be, rising from the cacophony like a butterfly.
The entire album is pretty much flawless, and features three long tracks divided by a short mellotron-driven instrumental, and the short, but monstrous "Dopo L'Uragano", a relatively simple track with a ballsy guitar riff that crushes you with all the subtlety of a Panzer tank. The other three tracks are fairly varied but all retain a consistently high quality; catchy, emotional and biting, with a tendency to for total balls-to-the-wall ferocity. Alphataurus is an unparalled heavy prog classic to my ears. Don't miss out on the kick ass artwork either.
- Greg Northrup [October 2001]
|Tom Hayes||12-Feb-2001||Alphataurus at a Glance|
The Italian progressive rock scene between 1972 and 1974 seemed to foster a culture in which bands would compete to determine who could be more imaginative, which group could create the most exciting, intelligent and challenging album to date. Historically, Italy has always had this mindset. The painters, poets, sculptors and other artisans of the Renaissance dueled frequently to catch the eye of Popes, Kings, mighty nobles and other magistrates of the era. With this is in mind, Alphataurus were one of the better contenders, a clear winner to create the frescoes for the small village church.
Like all worthy Italian bands of 1973, Alphataurus on their self-titled debut, featured top notch musicians to play guitars (electric and acoustic), bass, drums, and an arsenal of keyboards (organ, synths, piano, spinet, vibraphone).And, of course, the requisite dramatic, powerful vocals in the Italian language. The music alternates between heavy and soft and is at most heavy rock with hundreds of time signature changes, not to mention navigating through the style changes which include classical, blues, jazz, Italian pop of the 19th century and hard rock. How this all meshes seamlessly is the brilliance of the Italian prog rock Renaissance. The five long tracks here all display these wonderful qualities and represent yet another classic of the day. Stylistically, they compare most to Banco del Mutuo Succorso.
Similar to many Italian bands of this era , Alphataurus seemed to flare out after one release. But Mellow Records turned up a complete album minus the vocal sections. Apparently the band was looking for another singer when they finally gave up. 1974 was the end of the line for most of the Italian scene, so this should come as no surprise ultimately. On Dietro L'Uragano, the music is more playful, slightly less complex and far more dependent on keyboards than the debut effort. Parts of this remind me of the heavy but simple tracks found on The Trip's Caronte album, though overall Alphataurus is more engaging here. ELP circa Tarkus, is another obvious influence. Unfortunately, it's apparent the music was written with a vocalist in mind, so there are some gaps to be found. Still a wonderful find for the archives.
Fortunately, it wasn't just the music that called for high levels of creativity. The album art work was but one more exciting component of the movement. And here, Alphataurus moves to the top of the class. The original on Magma Records features a triple fold out cover of an olive branch-carrying dove dropping nuclear bombs out of its hatch while an inferno takes place below. A jaw dropper. Originals are a small fortune but keep your eyes peeled for the exact triple FOC reissue from Korea's Si-Wan. Very limited and hard to find but cheaper than the original. There's also a gatefold Japanese press and single sleeve reissues from both Korea and Japan. Dietro L'Uragano is a CD only release.
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