Italian prog metallers KINGCROW turned to Edgar Allen Poe for an overhaul of their name following their original moniker EARTH SHAKER. For all intents and purposes, KINGCROW is still working the international market as their previous album "Phlegethon" is largely a European phenomenon. Having played the American incarnation of the ProgPower festival last year, however, a breakout for KINGCROW seems due on their horizon, at least within a few years.
On their new album, "In Crescendo", KINGCROW rallies together a few nifty ideas bred of progressive and classic rock along with a few risky external elements that works in some places and rings of "nice try" in others. PORCUPINE TREE, FATES WARNING and DREAM THEATER are some of the more obvious influences upon KINGCROW, but one could even say QUEENSRYCHE's "Empire" holds a heavy sway over large portions of the album.
You can hear it in the dreamy bookend sections of "This Ain't Another Love Song" as you can in the bridges, choruses and solo sections of the prolonged prog jam, "The Hatch". Where KINGCROW ups their own ante on "The Hatch", however, is by decorating it with flamenco guitars on the intro and in splashes throughout. Added to their heaping blends are YES-minded organ wallops and random batches of drum machinery. In some ways, there's a lot of sensory overload to "The Hatch" and other songs on "In Crescendo", yet KINGCROW's primary rock drives serves as catalyst to their general acceptability, when they're driving, that is.
The syrupy lullabies circumventing through "Morning Rain" might not be heavy enough for certain audiences, nor does it ascend high enough through most of the trip to reach its aspirant silent lucidities. Unfortunately, KINGCROW all but tries to mirror QUEENSRYCHE and PINK FLOYD by attrition and cute as it may be until the dramatic final section, "Morning Rain" is sure to rile a few ears in its pale translation.
"The Drowning Line" is one of the punchier songs on the album and even when guitarists Diego Cafolla and Ivan Nastasi go nuts in unison in one of the longer breakdown-bridge tradeoff sections you'll hear in the midst of a straightforward rock drive, the strategy does work handily enough. Vocalist Diego Marchesi is at his most confident and keyboardist Cristian Della Polla at his most experimental towards the rear portion.
It's going to take patient, calculating ears to sieve out KINGCROW's ornamental flourishes for the remainder of "In Crescendo". Talent is not the issue behind "The Glass Fortress", the quasi-autobiographical "Summer '97" and the way-long title track. It's the unwise decision to strip down the momentum of "The Drowning Line" with what are essentially two hyperextended ballads (albeit "Summer '97" does serve up a much-needed power surge later in its doings), concluded by a collision course of prog metal theories set at mid-tempo for eleven minutes. While "In Crescendo" does have a banging ascension around the eight-minute mark, by this time, it's hard to feel KINGCROW has achieved very little for themselves outside of a pretty good overview of FATES WARNING, QUEENSRYCHE and STRATOVARIUS without the latter's overt theatrics and nano-note sequencing. Also, it's hard not think Diego Marchesi is trying to summon Geoff Tate's attention in many spots on this track.
Demonstrative musicianship is perfectly evident in KINGCROW. "The Glass Fortress" might even be considered sensuous pop-prog if such a market was readily available to it. That song's climax is one of "In Crescendo"'s finer sips from teeming nectar that KINGCROW is only consuming with half-full chalices. Ditto for "This Ain't Another Love Song", which is certainly pleasing and tuneful, if too busy in the middle ground to cross over into bigger, receptive platitudes.
"In Crescendo" has its share of delights but it also has a lot to learn. Beautification is an asset, but sustained focus and energy is what's needed for a proper impact and when KINGCROW merges the two, then they'll be able to step up to their peers with a proper kick behind their enviable embellishments.