European rock bands largely come with a knowing nod that though their hearts are in the right place, their music may be lingering around 20 years behind what is in the mainstream. 80s hair metal bands who refuse to acknowledge the changing of the seasons or impenetrable death metal logos which resemble the doodlings of a hyperactive spider – there often feels to be no middle ground.
Italy often escapes the public gaze entirely – having embraced prog very successfully during its pomp, as well as disco, punk and new wave, they have proved to be a nation of musicians who very much have their finger on the pulse, a fact sorely overlooked. Here’s a quick rundown of acts you should have paid more attention to or should now be supporting with all your being.
Of course, Goblin. Known by film fans as being essentially the in-house band for Dario Argento and his weird and wonderfully twisted worlds, their albums stand the tests of time more through their sheer brilliance than by association. A case in point is Il Fantastico Viaggio Del Bagarozzo Mark, their concept album about, yes, a beetle called Mark. Not attached to any film, it’s both technically fantastic and often touching and intriguing
Founded way back in 1967, New Trolls are still, in the absence of any other news, a going concern, though have gone through band members like a dose of salts. Their melding together of prog, guitar and classical music proved wildly successful, as their longevity suggests.
One of the few Italian bands to have enjoyed genuine success outside of their home country in recent years, Lacuna Coil just missed out on the top ten album chart on Billboard in 2012. With a goth-edge and male/female vocalists, they were exactly what eyeliner-wearing disaffected youths were crying out for
With an early-90s grungey sound which also embraces spacier, Sigur Rós territory and modern electronic psych. It might look a little confusing on paper, but it’s not stopped them shifting tons of albums and hooking up with MGMT on their European tour.
Grindingly heavy, sludge-doomlords, Ufomammut, take their achingly enormous, lurching guitars of Earth and Sunn O))) and add a little of their own European volume to the mix. They usually incorporate psychedelic visuals into their live shows, leaving audiences absolutely ruined.
Revamping the sounds of the 80s Italian punk scene, Bright Garden are a Milanese band who lean heavily on New York guitars and West Coast riffs
Thrillingly retro-rawk ‘n’ roll which somehow manages to be both 1976 and 2056 all at the same time. Lots of Hammond organ thrown in for good measure.