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Articles Home » 2010 Articles » Utopia (Italy) - 2010 Ice And Knives
Utopia (Italy) - 2010 Ice And Knives

ARTIST: Utopia (Italy)
ALBUM: Ice And Knives
LABEL: Anteo Records
YEAR: 2010
SPONSOR: Anteo Records


LINEUP: Riccardo Fenaroli - vocals * Lorenzo Venza - guitars * Lorenzo Antonelli - keyboards * Enrico Sandri - bass * Valerio Lucantoli - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Ice And Knives * 02 Criminal Underworld * 03 Escape * 04 Blue * 05 Walk Alone * 06 City Lights * 07 Bad * 08 Here And Now * 09 The Flood * 10 Your Next Wish * 11 War * 12 It's Not Our Place



GDAZE has recently ventured into an arrangement with Italian label Anteo Records. They have a couple of decent acts on their roster, including this prog metal outfit from Rome called Utopia. Sure, Italy has produced some fantastic prog metal bands over recent times, but even so, Utopia will be assessed as being one of the most different and unique bands out there within that sub-genre. Different in the fact that these guys fuse melting prog metal with an obtuse sense of prog/jazz fusion. Every decade has seen a handful of acts truly trip the listener's musical senses upside down. Of late, that award has gone to Dream Theater, but there have been many others best known to trainspotters in the prog metal genre. Utopia it would seem, are the latest arrivals at the floodgates of prog looking for a way in. To be honest, this will appeal to those with an appreciation of fusion at it's most primeval sense. Whether it's Colosseum from the 70's, or the aforementioned Dream Theater from a couple of decades later, you at least have an appreciation as to what these guys are all about.

The Songs
For twelve tracks there's a lot of music here. 79 minutes to be exact, and there's many a change-up moment to be found. The time changes harken to the material found in Pagans Mind universe, plus you can toss in a bit of Pathosray while the fusion work experience.. well, you can take your pick at some of the genre's best exponents over the last 40 years. The opening title track 'Ice And Knives' introduces us to Utopia's unusual sense of off the wall prog metal, tempo changes galore, and more style changes than a runway model can handle at a fashion show. The sound is dark and foreboding on 'Criminal Underworld', relentless too, while there's a lot of piano work to be found on 'Escape', plus some OTT keyboard solo work which will keep fans of Derek Sherininan on edge. The song itself is quite fast paced, with some hard drill drum work. 'Blue' is a softer and more somber piece, call it a ballad, but it isn't really. It's quite nice though. 'Walk Alone' is encrusted with a diamond like veneer, hard, but very clean sounding in places too. Quite like this one too. At nearly 7 minutes, 'City Lights' is a lot to digest, and meanders through 2 minutes of introduction before the song takes off. The song is broken into various passages with different flavours. Utopia decide on a cover as one of their songs. They've chosen Michael Jackson's 'Bad', and they turn it on it's head. Not sure what the late King Of Pop would've thought, but hey, it can't be all that bad? (excuse the pun). 'Here And Now' has some good parts, it's more of a straight-ahead prog metal without too much in the way of twists and turns. I love the jazz fusion elements found on 'The Flood', Keith Jarrett fans might get something out of this, but don't be fooled - it's still pretty heavy. 'Your Next Wish' is another with some brutal riffs and mind-boggling arrangements, and if you're a fan of bombastic prog metal, like Texan band Stride for instance, then take a listen to 'War', an incredibly dexterous track, containing some OTT keyboard parts. The finale 'It' Not Our Place' is a very cool acoustic/modern fusion piece, flowing, bright and very sunny.

In Summary
After some initial skepticism about this CD, I came away thinking this is an incredibly tight band, who are all about chops and musical dexterity. Equally at home in the prog metal field or the fusion field, I personally feel their forte lies in the latter, but I think also they are too talented to be pigeon-holed into just one genre. The funky bass lines, jazzy piano parts, double hammer bass drums and versatile guitar parts enables this band to play any genre they set their heart on. Should be an interesting few years keeping tabs on this lot!

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