Tragodia – Before the Fall (Revalve Records)

Monday, 10th December 2018
Rating: 8/10

Perseverance in the face of natural life obstacles appears obvious when looking at the background of Italian gothic/progressive metal group Tragodia. Beginning in 1996, they released two demos as it took eleven years before their first full-length The Promethean Legacy came out in 2007. Subsequently shifting lineups (including multiple vocalists) leaves drummer Daniele Valseriati the lone original member of the quartet. Before the Fall is their fourth album on their fourth label – which could justify some stalled career growth, but doesn’t stunt these musicians when it comes to an engaging cocktail that moves the listener from multiple directions.

The orchestration/synth elements add atmosphere to provide breathing room for the subsequent progressive/gothic riffs that maintain a darker, modern punch – all the while the alluring, sophisticated vocal melodies from Luca Meloni tie the proceedings together. The arrangements are tight and focused – even when the musicians choose to be a little adventurous in terms of interplay for “The Untrodden Road” and “The Fifth Season”, it’s never self-serving or too technical, the balance of hooks and emotional connection very top of mind to Tragodia. Another swirling set of keyboards against a disco-like dance passage allows “Adrift” to be a centerpiece highlight, the drumming and acoustic/electric guitar work against an impressive harmony-laden chorus making me think back to Irreligious-era Moonspell meets Labyrinth/Dream Theater-ish performances. The grooves never reach breakdown mold, but just possess this low-driven swing that hits all the right aural sweet spots to lift the melodic, progressive metal action to new heights – check out the title track and “The Forgery” for two varied angles that could gain the band younger appeal.

It’s rare to hear a band combine Moonspell/Sentenced-like gothic charm against Nevermore/Dream Theater power and progressive idea while making sense. Before the Fall could be that hidden gem of a record from a European band who embrace differentiation rather than trying to fit a certain mold.

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