I was quite caught by surprise by this opera rock. Usually I don´t like concept albums that much. They tend to concentrade too much on the words and the musici usually suffers in the process. Although Hybla Act 1 is not completely free from this problem, the musical flow of the work is simply excellent. The tracks just merge one into the other like a very well done tapestry of sounds to make a symphony to homage the history of this sicilian ancient city (now Raguna, the band´s hometown).
Led by singer and songwriter Nicola Randone, the group brings us a fantastic work that honors the tradition of music produced in that part of Europe since the late 60´s. Their approach of the music is a mix of traditional 70´s italian symphonic prog (specially the keyboards parts) with a more modern view (the electric guitars lines – a highlight here). The use of several opera singers to enhance the historical parts of the lyrics are a plus since they are very well handed to make them part of the whole. Production is also very good.
Hybla Act 1 is one of those algums you have to hear from start to finish to fully appreciate them. There are no fillers and very few lows (as one should expect from any concept album as I stated before). The musicanship is top notch. The music is very melodic, inspired and powerful. The classical influence is obvious, while the guitar parts (along with violin and saxophone) make it quite original and less derivative.
If you enjoy the classic italian prog of the 70´s (PFM, Banco, le Orme, Locanda Della Fate, etc) then this album is for you! I can´t wait to hear act 2! Highly recommended!