Sunday, January 31, 2016

Antonius Rex - 2006 - Switch On Dark

Antonius Rex 
Switch On Dark

01. Perpetual Adoration (7:29)
02. Damnatus In Aeternum (3:40)
03. Switch On Dark (19:28)
04. Darkotic (8:55)
05. Fairy Vision (Esoteric Edit) (14:26)
06. Mysticdrug (5:30)

- Antonio Bartoccetti / guitars, vocals, lute
- Doris Norton / keyboards
- Monika Tasnad / witch vocals

Special guests:
- Rexanthony / piano, synth, digital drums
- Florian Gorman / acoustic drums

Superb concept album, dark and glorious
The man behind the infamous "Jacula" returns in modern form with the new dark masterpiece "Switch on Dark." I have not heard his older material so I come to this new project with an open perspective. "Switch on Dark" is said to be a concept album about the inhabitants of a haunted castle and that's exactly what it sounds like. Written by Bartoccetti and keyboardist Doris Nortan "Switch" features a top-notch production by Rexanthony.

This music is captivating, mysterious, glossy dark and elegant. It has the feel of affluence and nobility somehow. One side of the sound is a techno-rock guitar/electronica blend not unlike the band Garbage used though to different ends of course. Occasionally it moves towards doom-metal territory but never gets that far, always pulling back in favor of a more reserved symphonic feel. Another close comparison might be Devil Doll but frankly I find "Switch" to be a hell of a lot more fun. There are elements of the Oldfield sound in the beats of TB3 and the female "witch" vocal. There is classical piano, violin, and synths used to sweeping and grandiose effect, absolutely breathtaking stuff. There are occasional wild bursts of raw and brutal electric guitar loaded with distortion which could conjure early Sabbath, sometimes NIN (towards the end of "Darkotic.") And there are the vocals, often the Therion style of choirs alternated with "creatures" of various forms and the gasps of young women. Highlights right off the bat (no pun) with the classy perfection of "Perpetual Adoration" which is a very solid backdrop to the stunning video of the track which you can view online (just do a search.) But the real smash is built around the 19 minute epic title track which defines the album. Brilliantly slow in evolving it builds various keyboard and lead electric guitar sections around a cast of shady characters in various vocal forms. Strings sections create evil backdrops that sound like the moment that Lord Vader enters the screen. Towards the end there is a beautiful female vocal section that reminded me of a dark version of Oldfield which ends abruptly with the woman seemingly sacrificed in front of our ears.was she killed? We're not sure but it slips right back into the calm pool of darkness that is no longer resistible. The finale of "Mysticdrug" shows Bartoccetti to be a more than competent guitarist (in addition to composing) as he wails on his SG over a lovely acoustic backing. Norton shows her talents with delicious assortment of keyboard atmospheres and handles the digital orchestra as well. This is heady and very effective entertainment for those who like things a bit spooky, a lot showy, with unflinching high self-esteem. And if you do a haunted house on Halloween for neighborhood kids, you just found the perfect background music to scare the sh*t out of both them and their parents.

Unease and foreboding are around every corner and yet the melodies so beautiful you can't help but get sucked in. Wholesome family fun, assuming your family likes to swing on the dark side now and again. Refreshingly different, fiercely irreverent.

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