It’s always nice to discover an established band who clearly has hit its creative stride. Italy’s Kingcrow is one such act, and its sixth album, Eidos, is the pinnacle of the band’s career thus far. Kingcrow, named after the classic Edgar Allen Poe poem The Raven (two bonus points awarded), plays a style of modern/retro prog that recalls Riverside, Porcupine Tree, and newer Opeth, in that the music is more progressive in feel and is fairly wank free. I always hate when critics talk about feel, but it’s very important to the success of Eidos. The album is generally weighed down only by its unfortunate reliance on ballads (which are done very well, mind you), but it has a haunted, melancholy feel that really reallyworks in the band’s favor. Basically all of the songs on here are winners, as long as you go into the album with an open mind and a willingness to give it a couple spins; multiple listens, as is typical, reveal layers wonderfully.
Back to the only major gripe on the album. Almost half of the album is mid-tempo ballads, and while Kingcrow are masters of the slow-build, they most excel at the faster-paced fun and energetic prog (check “On the Barren Ground”); it would have been nice to see the band do more of that, though it’s tough to argue when the results are so well done. What separates Eidos from the plethora of prog is the band’s ability as songwriters. Most of these tracks are on the short side (for the genre), which allows the band to stay focused and keep the momentum going. Diego Marchesi’s nuanced and unique vocals are a major selling point. His voice feels wonderfully old-school; most prog bands would go for harsh vocals or a higher-pitched singer to complement the music, but Diego’s melancholy tones are perfect for the dextrous music.
Overall, this is a rare diamond in the (Italian) rough. If you enjoy prog, most bands will offer something for you. However, the best are able to shine above the rest in some way. With a propulsive songwriting ability and a keen sense of feel, Kingcrow have offered up one of the best prog albums of 2015 so far. (Nicholas Senior)