"Occasionally, a strictly instrumental approach can be a superior way to go about making progressive rock music. While crafting complex tales through vocals and lyricism is common among many of the greats of the genre, there comes a time in which instrumentation can be powerful or vivid enough to create a similar tale on its own; just think about all the new age and soundtrack-based music that helps set certain scenes or set pieces. This brings me to a modern progressive/post rock band known as Roz Vitalis, a Russian group who have been around longer than some might think (all the way since 2001). Since their inception, they've been compared to the likes of King Crimson, Gentle Giant, and many more of the 70s prog giants; still, what sets them apart IS the instrumental approach along with the atmosphere it creates. Recently, as heard in this live bootleg from November of last year (recorded in their native Saint-Petersburg), their commitment to instrumental proficiency and overall quality also extends to a live format quite nicely.
This might be a live recording, but if it were recorded in a studio, I feel as though many wouldn't be able to tell the difference due to how little errors are made in translating their sound to a live audience. As for the musical style, this bootleg runs the gamut from progressive rock, classical, jazz, post-rock, some 70s classic rock, some folk here and there, and a few other styles thrown in for good measure. What's really neat is that the experience doesn't lose much focus, because while there are so many sounds being thrown around, each song only adopts one or two of them at a time so things don't get cluttered. There's quite a lot of variety in the songwriting and dynamic levels here, from the more engaging and raucous moments of album highlights "Fret Not Thyself Because Of Evildoers" and "What Are You Thinking About?" to the calmer and more beautiful (although sometimes unsettling) numbers like the piano solo "Disturbed Waves" or the piano and trumpet duet "Rescued From the Swamp." Other songs like "Painsadist" and "Mother of all Rain" actually tend to have a more cinematic feel, as the complex instrumentation and sweeping arrangements end up being quite, for lack of a better word, epic.
Sadly, the fact that the record tends to have a more by-the-numbers approach to the way it handles these songs that originated in the studio, there's not much of an adventurous spirit found here. For the most part, it's just a performance of songs they've done before, with little to add to what was already contained in these pieces. Other than that, there's not much else to say. If you can seek out Roz Vitalis' studio work, definitely do so; they're one of the more underrated "RIO prog" acts out there. As for this bootleg, it's certainly a good way to get into the band for the first time; the songs are expertly performed, and there's nothing that goes wrong in translating these quality songs into a live format. It's not the be-all-end-all of their discography, but a nice find for anyone seeking out a more organic and intimate way to hear these well-crafted pieces.
1. The Acknowledgement Day
2. Rescued From the Swamp
3. Lavoro D'Amore
4. Fret Not Thyself Because of Evildoers
5. Disturbed Waves
6. Annihilator of Moral Hazard
7. What Are You Thinking About?
9. Mother of All Rain
10. Peace/The End Like Death of the War
(с) Brendan Shroer