MTEA2

The Metamorfosi – Chrysalis

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Italian art/progressive rock trio The Metamorfosi carry on a long tradition of challenging music emerging from Italy’s music scene. Many of the performers and bands who have achieved widespread recognition have a taste for the esoteric and The Metamorfosi is no exception. Their second album, Chrysalis, explores themes of rebirth and transformation over its eight song length, conjures literary allusions in pursuit of its goals, and rejects conventional songwriting approaches on a significant amount of the album’s material. The Metamorfosi exhibit the same musical imagination that many of their fellow countrymen have possessed and no two songs on this album sound exactly alike. While some might fear that’s a sign of an unfocused band, it’s hardly the case here. The Metamorfosi exploit the potential in each song by failing to observe convention. They can move from progressive influenced keyboard driven pieces like “Essence” into softer, almost homespun tracks without batting an eye.

The title track has a gentleness that’s rare on this album. The Metamorfosi are an aggressive band, not bristling with angst or rage, but nevertheless pushing every song to its conclusion with surprising urgency. The two most notable exceptions to this approach are the first two songs, but the effect in the title track is stronger. The warm melodic grace, Sarah D’Arienzo’s glittering vocal, and the understated musical interplay ranks among the album’s finest moments. “Levity” is one of the album’s marquee numbers and explores an assortment of unusual tempos and musical textures without ever striking a single false note. D’Arienzo delivers a towering vocal that competes with the instrumental attack every step of the way. “Keep the Pain” has a very Smashing Pumpkins vibe that guitarist Tyron D’Arienzo’s surprising vocal turn only reinforces. It has a nice tempo gently pushed along by a solid drumming performance.

“Packed Smiles” is the album’s big screen ballad, an assertion proven by its well-plotted build, vocal crescendos, and use of piano. However, The Metamorfosi doesn’t tackle ballads like some Top 40 band. Instead, the extended textures allow them an opportunity to raise emotional stakes and wring every last bit of viable drama from the arrangement. They kick back against listener’s expectations once again with the ballsy rocker “Light” and one of D’Arienzo’s grittiest vocals punctuates this track. Chrysalis closes with “The Moon is Kiddin’ Me”, an outright progressive finale complete with extended running time and multiple movements. Unlike many other bands, however, this swing for a musical home run doesn’t come off heavy-handed. Instead, as the final note ends, you can’t help but admire their chutzpah and the obvious chops to back it up.

The Metamorfosi are difficult to characterize. This review opened with an attempt at dubbing them art/progressive rock, but the truth is much broader. Ultimately, The Metamorfosi simply play music and nothing more. The eight songs on this album cover the gamut – rock, hard rock, pop, classical, folk, and electronic. The ultimate truth is that The Metamorfosi follows their Muse wherever it takes them. That’s as it should be.

Joshua Stryde