20 Best Italian Prog Bands

20 Best Italian Prog Bands

When it comes to Prog, Italy is a story per se. The country which gave a whole new Progressive Rock genre known as Rock Progresivo Italiano (RPI), in the late ‘60s, certainly has a long history with the genre. Over the years, many new groups were formed and embraced this unique style. Some of the groups continue to record and play live.

Prog scene in Italy is strong, maybe not as strong as the UK or US scenes, but it definitely has many great artists that promote the genre. Below is a list of 2o Prog bands that, in our opinion, represent the current Italian Prog scene in the best way possible.

Premiata Forneria Marconi

Italy’s leading progressive rock outfit of the early ’70s, PFM would have remained a purely Italian phenomenon had they not been signed to Emerson, Lake & Palmer‘s Manticore label. Their sound was more distinctly rooted in the pre-classical era than that of their Germanic counterparts. In addition to electric keyboards (synthesizers, etc.), they also relied on violin and flute (recorder, actually) as major components of their music. The group released 19 studio albums, and are still active—playing shows around the world.

La Maschera di Cera

La Maschera di Cera was founded in 2001 by Fabio Zuffanti (Finisterre, Hostsonaten), Agostino Macor, Marco Cavani, Alessandro Corvaglia and Andrea Monetti. The band has put out six studio albums to day—their latest being 2013’s The Gates of Tomorrow.

Aborym

After a brief false start between 1991 and 1993, Aborym truly came to be in 1997, with leader Fabban (bass, synthesizers, programming) drafting Sethlans (guitars, samples) and vocalist Yorga SM to take part in the self-financed Antichristian Nuclear Sabbath demo. This in turn attracted new vocalist Attila Csihar—legendary for his seminal work with Mayhem—and lead guitarist Nysrok SS, who joined in time for 1999′s Kali Yuga Bizarre album, released by Scarlet Records. Introducing a truly original brand of futuristic black metal, the album’s jagged samples, electronic drums, and industrial overtones make Aborym‘s peculiar sound very hard to pin down or define. The group released seven full-length records. Shifting.Negative was released earlier this year.

Goblin

The fact that Goblin was an Italian progressive rock band already makes them somewhat unique, but they also pursued an intriguingly unorthodox career path, recording the majority of their music for horror film soundtracks, many with director Dario Argento. Internationally, they’re probably best known for their work on the Night of the Living Dead sequel Dawn of the Dead (where they were credited as the Goblins), though their work on Profondo Rosso (aka Deep Red) and Suspiria is generally more acclaimed. Formed in 1972, Goblin‘s roots lie in several other Italian prog rock bands of the time. Keyboardist and bandleader Claudio Simonetti and original drummer Walter Martino both played in Ritratto di Dorian Gray; guitarist and occasional vocalist Massimo Morante was part of Era di Acquario; and bassist Fabio Pignatelli had been in Rivelazioni. With vocalist Tony Tartarini, the group initially dubbed itself the Cherry Five and played British-style progressive rock in the vein of Yes, Genesis, and ELP. They signed with the Italian Cinevox label and issued a self-titled debut in 1975, which performed disappointingly. With 23 studio albums under their belt, Goblin is one of the most prolific Italian prog bands.

Delirium

Delirium originally formed in Genoa during the late 1960s as I Sagittari and their line-up consisted of Ettore Vigo (keyboards), Peppino Di Santo (drums, vocals), Mimmo Di Martino (acoustic guitar) and Marcello Reale (bass). The later arrival of Ivano Fossati (vocals, keyboards, flute) completed the band, whose early musical style was a mix of the so-called Italian melodic tradition and UK progressive influences, in particular King Crimson and Colosseum. Their latest album, L’Era della Menzogna, was released in 2015.

Barock Project

Founded by keyboardist Luca Zabbini, the idea behind Barock Project originates from his desire to deliver the finest and perfect structure of classical music (mainly baroque music) with rock-style and a little bit of jazz harmony, supported by a pop structure with the declared intention to revamp the ’70s progressive rock love. The group recently released their new album Detachment.

Karmamoi

Karmamoi came into being in 2008, out of the needs of Daniele Giovannoni and Serena Ciacci to give life to a musical project that could express their personalities and their concept of music. Their latest album, Silence Between Sounds (2016), is a new musical path with their personal ideas of progressive rock.

Accordo dei Contrari

Accordo dei Contrari was formed in 2001 in Bologna, Italy, conceived as a vehicle for making original instrumental music. Unlike many Italian prog bands today, AdC’s mostly derives from Canterbury Prog and jazz rock rather than their “own” RPI. The group’s newest album, Violato Intatto, was released this year.

DGM

Originally formed in 1994 as an all-instrumental, power metal outfit, DGM featured guitarist Diego Reali, keyboardist Maurizio Pariotti, bassist Marco Marchiori, and drummer Gianfranco Tassella. After taking second place in a local battle of the bands contest, the group began searching for a vocalist and eventually secured the services of the experienced Luciano Regoli—a veteran of numerous progressive rock bands in the 1970s—before recording the Random Access Zone E.P. in 1996. Starting with their full-length debut, the aptly named Change Direction, the next year, DGM began moving ever deeper into progressive metal terrain, and with their second effort, Wings of Time (introducing new drummer Fabio Constantino), from 1999, they became regular magazine poll toppers and sold over 4,000 copies in Japan alone. But even though they were receiving ever more accolades for their Dream Theater-meets-Symphony X style, DGM weathered numerous personnel shake-ups leading up to 2001′s Dreamland opus, which featured new vocalist Titta Tani. DGM released 10 studio albums, the latest being last year’s The Passage. The current line-up includes singer Mark Basile, guitarist Simone Mularoni, bassist Andrea Arcangeli, drummer Fabio Constantino and keyboardist Emanuele Casali.

Il Castello di Atlante

Like so many groups from the ‘70s, Il Castello di Atlante never had a chance to release anything at the time. But they never gave up playing together and released their first album, Sono Io Il Signore Delle Terre A Nord, in the 1992, with a line-up that included mostly original members. The band’s latest, sixth album Art Atlantis was released in 2016.

Garybaldi

Originally formed as Gleemen in the late 1960s in Genoa, the band released their self-titled debut in 1970, which is still to this day regarded as a gem from collectors all over the world. Having changed their name to a more Italian sounding name, Garybaldi proceeded to record two albums with the heavily slanted Hendrix influences, even if the keyboards are also a good part of the sound. The first one sports an astounding and complex artwork by future Italian comix superstar Guido Crepax. The group disbanded in 1974, but in 1990 an album titled Bambi Fossati & Garybaldi was released, followed by Blokko 45 (1996) and La Ragione e il Torto (2000). The most recent release was last year’s Storie di Un’altra Citta—the first album to be released under the original name Garybaldi in decades.

Kingcrow

Kingcrow was originally founded in Rome by Diego Cafolla (guitars) and Manuel Thundra Cafolla (drums) in 1996 under the name of Earth Shaker. Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe‘s poem “Raven” and driven by a will of change, the band’s name was soon altered into Kingcrow. They released six studio albums to day, their latest being 2015’s Eidos.

Destrage

A hard-charging, genre-juggling hard rock unit based out of Milan,  Destrage employs a compelling blend of melody-driven groove, math, djent, and progressive metal that’s as technically impressive as it is highly cinematic. Founded in 2005, and featuring the talents of vocalist Paolo Colavolpe, drummer Federico Paulovich, bassist Gabriel Pignata, and guitarists Matteo Di Gioia and Ralph Guido Salati, the band issued its first full-length studio album, Urban Being, in 2007 via Coroner Records. Destrage stayed with the label for 2010′s The King Is Fat ‘N’ Old, but their increasingly expanding profile eventually caught the eyes and ears of Metal Blade, who snatched the band up in 2013. Are You Kidding Me? No., the group’s first outing for the label, dropped the following year, and in 2016, they released their fourth studio long-player, the ambitious A Means to No End.

Fleshgod Apocalypse

With a sound that doesn’t so much find the worlds of classical and death metal merging as it does colliding, Fleshgod Apocalypse are one of those rare bands whose music is actually more brutal and over the top than their name. Based out of Rome, the band came together in 2007, making a splash right away with a demo and tours with bands like Napalm Death and Hate Eternal. The band eventually brought their technical wizardry to Willowtip Records who signed them and released their full-length debut, Oracles, in 2009. With a solidified lineup consisting of singer and guitarist Tommaso Riccardi, guitarist Cristiano Trionfera, bassist Paolo Rossi, and drummer Francesco Paoli, the band began to further develop their sound, eventually adding a full-time pianist and string arranger, Francesco Ferrini, to the band in 2010. Their sophomore album, Agony, arrived the following year, bringing the orchestral elements of Fleshgod Apocalypse‘s sound to the forefront. A third album, Labyrinth, was released in 2013 on Nuclear Blast. The quintet received universal acclaim in the extreme music press for their now emergent brand of symphonic death metal. After touring Europe and Italy as well as playing major festival dates, they re-enetered the studio in late 2015 and emerged with King, in early 2016.

Alberto Rigoni

Alberto Rigoni is an Italian bass player and composer, internationally known for his career as a solo artist and as a member of the progressive rock band TwinSpirits, Lady & The Bass and co-producer of the Vivaldi Metal Project. His solo albums (Something Different, Rebirth, Three Wise Monkeys and Overloaded, worldwide released between 2008 and 2014), between progressive rock metal and fusion, also feature legendary musicians such as Kevin Moore (ex-Dream Theater), Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson), Göran Edman (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen), Michael Manring and many others.

Höstsonaten

Höstsonaten is a musical project that revolves around the figure of progressive rock musician Fabio Zuffanti. Höstsonaten has released eight albums (plus a collection of rarities and a live cd+dvd) of symphonic progressive rock with the participation of many guest musicians. The group’s name comes from Ingmar Bergman’s Autumn Sonata movie and its components, as well as Zuffanti, are extremely variable. The last Höstsonaten album, Symphony N.1: Cupid & Psyche, was released last year.

Nosound

Regarded by critics and fans alike as one of the most interesting up and coming alt/art rock bands in Europe, Nosound inventively combines influences from ’70s psychedelia, ’80s/’90s ambient and contemporary alternative, progressive and post rock. The project started as a one man studio project in 2005 by Giancarlo Erra, but has since grown into a five piece band, evolving into something unique, focused and powerful. The music is evocative and intense, with personal songwriting. Influences range from Pink Floyd to Brian Eno, from Porcupine Tree to Sigur Ros, passing through rock and electronic/ambient. The group’s fifth studio album, Scintilla, was released in 2016.

Morkobot

Lodi-based avant-prog/experimental act Morkobot started in 2004, and to this day they released five studio albums. The band features no guitars, but two bassists (Lin and Lan) and a drummer (Len). Their latest, fifth album GoRgO, was released in 2016 and it ushers in a new era in writing for the band; one that revolves around constructing more ambitious structures driven by simpler forms and tighter structures.

Le Orme

Aldo Tagliapietra (vocals, acoustic guitar, flute, celesta), Nino Smeraldi (electric guitar, vocals), Claudio Galieti (bass, cello, vocals), Toni Pagliuca (keyboards), and Michi Dei Rossi (drums, percussion) started out sounding something like the Beatles circa the Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine albums, complete with distorted lead guitar solos and songs intended to evoke the variant states of mind associated with certain recreational drug use. Smeraldi, who co-wrote (with Tagliapietra) all of the songs on their first album, also arranged all of their material. Le Orme stayed together during the 1970s, by which time they’d evolved into an Emerson, Lake & Palmer-type progressive rock band, cutting four albums in that vein and then disbanding in 1982. In 1986 the band re-formed—including Tagliapietra, Pagliuca, and Dei Rossi in the lineup—with the intention of touring but then released the Orme album in 1990, heralding a return to recording as well as performing on a semi-regular basis. Pagliuca left the group in 1992, replaced by keyboardist Michele Bon, but during the ’90s and 2000s the group persevered, issuing such albums as Il Fiume (1995), Elementi (2001), and L’Infinito (2004), and also making concert and festival appearances in Europe as well as North America. However, Tagliapietra departed the group in 2009, leaving Le Orme in a trio formation with only Dei Rossi remaining from the band’s ’60s and ’70s heydays. In 2011, the trio put out La via Della Seta, and last year they re-released a reworked version of the seminal album Felona E/And Corona 2016.

Osanna

One of the most important Italian prog bands emerged in the early 1970s is Naples-based Osanna, a group which during the ‘70s released five studio albums: L’Uomo (1971), Preludio, Tema, Variazioni, Canzona (1972), Palepoli (1972), Landscape of Life (1974), and Suddance (1978). The band was on a hiatus for a number of years, but in early 2000s they reformed in a new line-up, releasing three studio albums. The latest studio effort is 2015’s Palepolitana.

12 Comments

  1. srgiluusgdr

    May 25, 2017 at 2:11 pm

  2. Il Castello di Atlante

    May 26, 2017 at 1:23 am

    Thanks a lot for featuring us in your publication!
    CdA

  3. Pingback: Accordo Dei Contrari – Fusionando

  4. Ivan

    May 26, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Where is Novembre?

  5. Carmelo Vecchio

    May 26, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Really? What about Banco del mutuo soccorso?

    • Cristian Cossetti

      May 26, 2017 at 9:36 pm

      And Area? New Trolls? Banco del Mutuo Soccorso? Demetrio Stratos?

      You missed some of the historic groups … amazing! You can not talk about classical music without mentioning Mozart … and you can not speak of progressive Italians without mentioning the Banco or the Area.

      • Federico

        May 29, 2017 at 8:30 pm

        It says ACTIVE today . . .

        • Mike Reiss

          June 27, 2017 at 1:14 am

          I’m pretty sure Banco is still active and I believe at least one version of the New Trolls are too. So are many of these one shot bands.

  6. dj Coconuts

    May 26, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    Il Baletto di Bronzo, Alpataurus, The Trip, Jacula and HP Lovecraft are missing in this list!

    • Mike Reiss

      June 27, 2017 at 1:13 am

      The only HP Lovecraft I’m aware of was a psych band from the US. I don’t think there is any band in the prog or psych genre with that name from Italy.

  7. Andrea anagrafica Righi

    May 27, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Mancano i bolognesi Deus ex Machina

  8. Mike Reiss

    June 27, 2017 at 1:11 am

    There’s a few very important bands missing. For starters Banco, Area, and New Trolls not to mention Il Balletto di Bronzo, Museo Rosenbach, Biglietto Per Linferno plus a bunch of other famous one shot bands. Glad to see La Maschera Di Cera on the list and Hostsonaten but what about FInissterre?

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: