Followers of Italian prog may remember Merry Go Round in their first incarnation back in the 80s, when they were known as Storks. By the following decade they’d all but vanished, only to re-emerge in 2012 with a new name, an extra guitarist and, crucially, a dynamic frontwoman in the shape of Martina Vivaldi.
The result is an album high on bombast and low on subtlety, topped with slightly scarifying vocals that make Grace Slick sound like Olivia Newton-John. Aside from Vivaldi, the Merry Go Round schtick is built on the relationship between the heavy guitar tones of Renzo Belli and the churning Hammond grooves of Michele Profeti. It’s a fair bet that PFM are lurking in their record collections, with songs like Dora’s Dreams and Changeling carrying a familiar sense of hard-driving oomph. Occasionally, as with To Die Of Fear, they attempt to rein things in and craft something more acoustic, but Vivaldi isn’t one for toning down. Instead, she and the band are more potent when approximating something grander. In Search Of Lost Time is a tour de force of wailing vocals over a circling riff, while Friday The Thirteenth is a mad epic with blazing guitars and a funky organ rush.