[Review] Jana Draka – Where the Journey Begins

Jana Draka are an Italian Progressive Rock band born in the province of Rome in 2014, which after some lineup changes in 2018 finds its definitive structure. Over the years the band has gone from Alternative Rock sounds with the EP “Introspection,” to a refined Progressive style with the debut Full-Lenght “Where the Journey Begins” released December 17, 2019. The self-produced album, contains 13 medium-length tracks, including two mini-suites divided into several parts, showing off a mature sound, clear ideas and good technique both in the drafting and in the execution of the songs. The album opens with “Overture” an introductory piece characterized by a majestic piano intro that alternates softer moments with other more symphonic and powerful ones. “Coming Home” begins with guitar and keyboards with dark melodies and a solid rhythmic session. The vocal is very expressive and is best suited to the various situations that the song presents. The tempo changes are of quality and all the instruments create excellent malgama, without overpowering themselves but creating an impactful sound ensemble. Excellent the layers of keyboards as well as the strongest openings with distorted guitar and the sound weaves that are created between the two instruments. “Salem” is a powerful Heavy Prog song with occult hues, as the title suggests, made of leading and dark melodies on the keyboards, a massive and precise guitar. The references to the Uriah Heep or Black Widow groups are perceived, mixed with modern sounds and with a personal style worthy of note. A sweet piano melody on an atmospheric carpet begins “The Outsider,” which with a sudden change catapults us into a piece with an elaborate structure. In constant change it acquires intensity with the passing of the minutes, between symphonic and orchestral openings with the keyboards master of the scene and a rocky rhythmic session with killer bass lines. “A Gem’s Last Moment pt. 1 ”is the first of two parts, which slightly dampens the tones with soft and sweet melodies of acoustic guitar and keyboards on which a very harmonious warm and expressive vocal is drawn. “A Gem’s LAst Moment pt. 2” is the second part of the previous song, where the theme is developed on darker and more intricate sounds, where the keyboards command the scene with intertwining between piano and synth and a heavier guitar. The vocal verses are spot on with another truly expressive rehearsal, before an intense guitar solo, while the different keyboards that intertwine bring us back to the golden age of Prog. “Carcosa” starts with atmospheric noises and an effective and hypnotic voice, then the synth creates a dark carpet and the vocal returns clean. The technique and ideas of the band give life to a section with more powerful melodies with an excellent fusion of guitar and keyboards that feed energy to the sound, the deep bass and the well-articulated drum do the rest. “Limbo pt. 1” first of three parts, is the shortest song on the album but still very intense and focused on piano melodies and a very expressive and soft vocal. Softness and warmth that continue in the second part “Limbo pt. 2,” to which is added a well-structured rhythmic session with a deep bass. The positive melodies and the vocal interpretation make this song pleasant and smooth, before the last part “Limbo pt. 3,” where the intensity increases and the theme is developed with a more intricate structure. This section of the disc divided into three parts in pure Progressive style is one of the highest peaks of a qualitatively high album. “Daydream” begins with a soft interweaving of guitar and keyboards that create a dreamy atmosphere on which an intense and pleasant vocal is drawn. A softer and smoother track, where the symphonic component is the master.
Awaken” is characterized by majestic Prog melodies on the keyboards, a deep bass and a rocky guitar, while the vocal alternates decisive solo moments and other choirs. The atmosphere at times is more harmonious and at times darker, with some unpredictable and original developments of the theme, a really good song. The “Notturno” album concludes with a short and sweet piano arpeggio lasting just over 2:40, which closes this record debut. An interesting production full of positive ideas and sound intertwining, more energetic moments and symphonic openings, passing through softer and darker parts. The individual technique is put at the service of the group which thus offers a well-mixed and mature sound, without virtuosity for its own sake, but with a thick sound ensemble. An album recommended for all lovers of Progressive sounds of both the old and the new era, with good musical plots and a warm and expressive voice, a good debut for the Italian band.

Tracklist

  1. Overture – 2:46
  2. Coming Home – 8:12
  3. Salem – 3:52
  4. The Outsider – 5:35
  5. A Gem’s Last Moment, Pt. 1 – 3:20
  6. A Gem’s Last Moment, Pt. 2 – 4:48
  7. Carcosa – 4:45
  8. Limbo, Pt. 1 – 1:54
  9. Limbo, Pt. 2 – 2:43
  10. Limbo, Pt. 3 – 5:47
  11. Daydream – 4:36
  12. Awaken – 3:53
  13. Notturno – 2:41

Lineup

Valerio Magli / Electric bass, Double bass, Voice
Danilo Pantusa / Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
Giorgio Belluscio / Keyboards
Federico Aramini / Keyboards
Valentina D’Angelo / Drums, Percussion

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Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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