Has anyone ever noticed how good the Italians are on their pianos and keyboards? Even those bands that exist on the fringes of the Italian scene with barely any recognition; they too have world-class keyboard players. It goes without saying that band leader Corrado Sardella is one of these amazing musicians, and his skills come to the fore under the anagrammatic title DoracorLa vita che cade is the 8th studio album under the Doracor title - not including the Wanderlust album of early demos - with the first, The Long Pathway, appearing as early as 1997. However, La vita che cade is the first to appear on this website, and Doracor make for an impressive DPRP debut.

Doracor's music lies heavily in the soft-neo-symphonic-prog realm, with emphasis on the 'symphonic' part. Often the band is loud and cinematic but, more importantly, they always retain a great sense of melody. These tunes are not only hummable; they get inside your head so that there's no other option than to play that song again!

There is no better place to find examples of this than on the stunning 13-minute opening track Settimo cielo. Essentially a symphonic-style overture for the album, it's an epic prelude for what's to come. After a heart-wrenching guitar solo, the listener is taken on a roller coaster ride of themes and emotions. Importantly, two less common instruments are featured here, and on the rest of the album. Sardella occasionally steps out of the limelight to make way for Riccardo Mastantuono on violin and Vincenzo Antonicelli on saxes, giving a more varied flavour to what could have otherwise been a rather samey album. The track ends on an eerie yet somehow comforting and familiar chord progression played on the Mellotron. Straight after, it's into the titular track and it's still mostly instrumental. The melodies flow beautifully into one another and are climaxed by wonderful singing in Italian from Milton Damia to the melody of the guitar solo heard at the beginning of the album. Very uplifting indeed!

This repetition of themes suggests that this is a concept album, although without my Italian handbook I am none the wiser as to what this album is about. I'm OK with that, because the music is incredible enough to keep me entertained. Most of the songs are very strong indeed, although the album itself suffers from sinking under its own weight at 68 minutes in length. The one odd track out is Planet X. Very noisy and synth driven, it sticks out like a sore thumb on this mostly mature album. Persevere and you will be rewarded, as cockle-warming tracks such as Dentro il tuo mondo dazzle you with their stunning guitar solos. Lastly, the appropriately titled Lentamente is the final standout track on this album, with its second half reprising the chord progression heard at the end of Settimo cielo, although this time with drums and a truly sensational guitar solo before the outro track Attimo.

I have not heard the band's previous output but I'd be very interested to as it's not often that a band is this good by album #8. Though not wholly consistent, the album does not outstay its welcome, and features more than its fair share of impressive moments. It just goes to show that Italian prog scene is still thriving as it was back in the old days. This album comes recommended for fans of Doracor's former stablemates La Coscienza di Zeno as the two have an almost identical style. Certainly a band to keep an eye on.

Basil Francis