Arcana13DanzaMacabraNow, how could I not pick this one for review…!

An album entirely based on, and influenced by, classic Italian horror and giallo films of the 60’s and 70’s.

Arcana 13 clearly love their Bava, Fulci and Argento, and have lovingly presented us with their debut, ‘Danza Macabra’.

This occult rock/doom ode to spaghetti splatter is also housed within cover art from Enzo Sciotti (who has produced the unforgettable imagery for films such as New York Ripper, The House By The Cemetery, and Cannibal Ferox, amongst many others). It also contains a cover version of Goblin’s seminal ‘Suspiria’ theme. Bellissimo!

So, how does this Italian bands eight track homage to a heritage of horror shape up?

Well, it’s doomy, occult rock…so of course it’s gonna sound Sabbath-y. It also sounds rather Uncle Acid-y, and also rather Ghost-y (the band, not the misconception), and it’s not without its prog sensibilities either. But unlike those last two bands mentioned, Arcana 13 possess way more integrity. Anyone that chooses to accompany their lead-off track, ‘Dread Ritual’, with a video featuring footage from Mario Bava’s ‘Black Sunday’, is fine with me.

And this is where we begin.

Film samples and weighty riffs, with the vocals of Simone Bertozzi and Andrea Burdisso suiting the material right down to the ground. There’s also a keen sense of melody and catchy hooks, and swirls of keyboard feature prominently on the more laidback ‘Land Of Revenge’.

‘Oblivion Mushroom’ adds a more grungy tone that could almost be Soundgarden, until it hits maximum groove-out, while their cover of ‘Suspiria’ is of course, going to be of particular interest.

…And it doesn’t disappoint.

But here, Arcana 13 are not trying to imitate Goblin, they’ve given the track their own interpretation, that’s big on sass. If you’re familiar with the theme, it’s hard not to have a massive grin across your face when listening to this.

The grunge tone pops up again in ‘Blackmaster’, as the spacey keyboard effects lead us bounding into some spectacularly jaunty riffage, and the over-driven bass and big chugging chorus of ‘The Holy Cult Of Suicide’ works well with the Ozzy-inspired vocal lines.

The final track, ‘Hell Behind You’, displays a slower and more considered approach. It leads into an unexpectedly bluesy refrain, and is a fitting conclusion to an album packed with excellent playing and passionate delivery.

‘Danza Macabra’ is superb, making it utterly essential for all lovers of groovy, heavy rock and Italian horror flicks.

(8.5/10 Stuart Carroll)