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Sophya Baccini's Aradia: Big Red Dragon

Strident progressive, folk-tinged rock opera from eccentric Italian lady.

Who doesn’t want something a bit bonkers and Italian every so often? But there’s more to Big Red Dragon than that. Taking leads from various, dark William Blake works, it’s a dramatic oeuvre tying classic prog electric guitar lines with grandiose orchestral touches, swooping synths and trippy vocal effects for Sophya herself.

Still, hooked in operatic-meets-folk melody as much of this is (notably in While He’s Sleeping), it still retains a classical element, if a rather warped one.

The pounding intro of Satan sounds like the creepy cousin of 21st Century Schizoid Man meets Flash Gordon, before spanning into steel-clanging samples, jarring guitar and jazzy keys. It’s poetic, eclectic, and apoplectic cries of ‘SATAN! SATAN!’ escalate, the bizarro storyteller feel gets folkier/stranger as harpsichord-esque sounds and flute strains feed into Love Or Hecate.

Cerberus swells with prog melody, electronic sweeps, haunting harmonies, and big mythical dog growls. It’s progressive theatre of unusual, epic proportions, all capped with a theatrically churchy Jerusalem.

It may be more weird than wonderful, but as takes on the Romantics go, it’s appealingly imaginative.

Polly is Features Editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage) and writes a few things. She also writes for Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer, and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.