Three Monks – Neogothic Progressive Toccatas

Three Monks is a new Italian band which dares to push the limits of mixing progressive rock & classical music further than anybody before. For sure we can find few examples of using pipe organ in rock in 70s, but these were mainly only experiments, not an idea for the whole sound of a band. Of course there was also a band called Jacula (which later re-formed as Antonius Rex) where church organ sound occupied dominant role, but Jacula never really sound like real progressive rock, mainly because of lack of a real rhythm section (but don’t get me wrong, despite these flaws and awful “evil seed” context, I really like Jacula’s music!). Anyway Three Monks is the only band I know which uses this very original idea: symphonic prog-rock trio with only pipe organ, bass guitar and drums. To be honest I always dreamed about such project and my dream came true!

Let’s check their compositions from their debut album “Neogothic Progressive Toccatas”:

1. “Progressive Magdeburg” – great track with thundering drums, deep bass lines and – the most important – glorious pipe organ layers. Extremely energetic & furious performance. If you can image ELP with cathedral organ instead of Hammond…this is exactly such staff.

2. “Toccata Neogotica # 1″ – the longest compositions begins very calm with only pipe organ sound, something you can easily hear in your local church (if they have good organ of course), but after a while Roberto Bichi & Maurizio Bozzi join to add splendid rhythm section. Just like the whole album: magnificent music full of overwhelming church organ waves. Half-way between Keith Emerson and J.S. Bach. That’s what I like in my music!

3. “Neogothic Pedal Solo” – surprisingly this track begins with monk chants (rather artificial than real thing here, but still sounds OK). After that we can witness very long but not very dragging bass guitar solo. In the middle of the track Paolo Lazzeri starts to “attack” as again with dark organ chops. From this moment the rest of “Neogothic Pedal Solo” sounds more like real church music or horror soundtrack. I can also say that it’s the most Jacula-like composition becasue of lack of drums.

4. “Herr Jann” – furious drums come back in “Herr Jann” to provide phenomenal support for powerful church organ layers. Simply: another mind-blowing, ear-shattering piece of art.

5. “Deep Red (Profondo Rosso)” – it’s just an amazing adaptation of Goblin’s classic theme from Italian giallo movie – “Profondo Rosso”(great movie anyway!). Goblin’s original was also mainly played on pipe organ, but I have to admit that this pipe-organ only (+ drums & bass) version is equally fantastic, and maybe even better! My favorite tune on the album.

6. “Profondo Gotico” – superb continuation of previous theme with many classical variations. Heavy organ floods rule as always!

7. “Toccata Neogotica # 7″ – last piece is a bombastic culmination of all rock & classical influences. Storming drums & grandious cathedral organ which will cause a goose bumps on your shoulders. Tremendously thrilling experience. Like crazy Bach after big dozen of LSD or hallucinogen mushrooms, who listened too many ELP’s albums (or something like that :-) .

Conclusion? You really ned this album, I have no doubt about it. If you always liked church organ sound and you wondered how it could sound together with powerful drums & bass guitar, you have your answer here. The only two artists I can compare with Three Monks are Jacula/Antonius Rex & Marco Lo Muscio. But addition of rhythm section gives completely new dimension to Three Monks’ music, much more “rock” here (and lack of Jacula’s “evil seed”, sinister occult lyrics is also a plus for me).

“Neogothic Progressive Toccatas” is surely one of the best and for sure the most innovative prog-rock album of 2010. If music critics won’t notice it, it means that music critics are deaf or plain stupid.

(In fact I can only find one flaw on this release. After listening to this album couple of time I read interview with Three Monks keyboardist and he said that the whole album was recorded using…synthesizer not real pipe organ. Unfortunately this info took some “magic” away… I used to think that there was some vampire-style, bent organist raging on cathedral-style organ, but now I see that there was only a guy pushing plastic keys and staring at computer monitor. Doesn’t sound too “atmospheric” for me…)

Best tracks: “Deep Red (Profondo Rosso)” & “Toccata Neogotica # 7″


1. Progressive Magdeburg (8:22)
2. Toccata Neogotica # 1 (11:25)
3. Neogothic Pedal Solo (5:03)
4. Herr Jann (6:33)
5. Deep Red (profondo Rosso) (4:22)
6. Profondo Gotico (4:07)
7. Toccata Neogotica # 7 (10:14)


* Paolo Lazzeri / pipe organ, composition
* Maurizio Bozzi / bass, sound engineer
* Roberto Bichi / drums (2-4-5-6)
* Claudio Cuseri / (1-7)


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