Dark Quarterer – Pompei


Artist: Dark Quarterer

Album: Pompei

Label: Cruz Del Sur Music

PR: Clawhammer PR

Release Date: 06/11/2020

Country: Italy

Digital Price: €7 EUR ($8.30 USD)

There is definitely an oldschool metal vibe to this album. That shouldn’t be surprising considering how long Dark Quarterer have been playing, though. Founding members Gianni Nepi (bass/vocals) and Paolo ‘Nipa’ Ninci (drums) are still the creative core of this band, which has been around for decades. Starting as a cover band called Omega R, by the time they renamed themselves to Dark Quarterer in 1982 they had already been playing for some years. They were one of the early creative forces in the Italian metal scene and quickly gained a cult following, driving what is now a thriving metal scene with countless bands putting out excellent music. Nepi and Ninci are joined by Francesco Sozzi (guitars) and Francesco Longhi (keyboards), both of whom have played with the band for multiple decades now. 38 years down the line, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Dark Quarterer’s latest album Pompei.

Pompei is a concept album about the annihilation of the ancient Roman city the album is named after. It is inspired by a 2014 book by Italian writer Alberto Angela named The Last Three Days of Pompei, and it led to Nepi and Ninci taking their own trips to the ruins of the city. Those trips led to them feeling an urge to adapt Angela’s story. In doing so, they’ve told a story from a variety of points of view, including that of the volcano itself in the opening track Vesuvius. Vesuvius brings the volcano to life, with initial ambient sounds and guitarwork giving way to a fast, heavy buildup as the volcano erupts, with vocals describing the eternal need to relieve oneself of pain.

There’s a lot of drum-work that comes through quite prominently throughout, which is an effect that seems to work well for albums of this kind. The usage of drums in this album reminds me somewhat of the great use of drums in some tracks on a Holy Martyr album called Still At War which is thematically similar to this one in its focus on ancient Rome. Personally I feel that it’s tough to stand out as a drummer in a progressive metal band with the sheer talent and creativity present in the genre, but Dark Quarterer’s drummer Paolo Ninci does a great job. In fact, in my first listening to this album, it was Ninci’s work that immediately stood out to me at first.

There’s also some fun guitar riffs and solos on this, such as the great concluding solo at the end of Welcome to the Day of Death. In that track we have a sense of building worry, accompanied by guitars that become increasingly foreboding throughout. Choral vocals and a synth interlude really bolster the sense of tension and contemplation of one’s fate, all the while building to frantic guitar solo that leads us into the terrified screams that the next track, Panic, opens with.

Keyboardist Francesco Longhi’s work is not quite as forward here as in some progressive metal bands, but his work and role in the band is certainly no lesser for that. His work in the track Panic is excellent and is integral to the overall mood of each song. His outro at the end of Panic is honestly one of my favourite parts on the whole album. Panic itself is a contender for favorite song on the album for me, with a complex mixture of terror, triumph, and contemplation at different moments. Longhi’s work is just a joy to listen to throughout the album. In Plinius the Elder he gets an extended solo which is yet another standout moment on the Pompei album, complete with some jazz piano influences mixed in. I simply cannot praise Longhi’s work enough.

Each part on this album is played excellently and with feeling by each member of the band, though. That is something that strikes me about this album – the sheer chemistry of the band members. All are integral to the album, contributing to the atmosphere, mood, and emotion of each track in their own important manner. The vocals stand out as somewhat more of an acquired taste, I think, but they grew on me over time.

This is perhaps a factor of the members having played together for so long, but also the fact that as a band, they describe themselves as ‘very picky’ when it comes to composing music, discarding dozens and dozens of ideas until they have finally realised their vision. And that perfectionism shines through in the excellent music they have written here. I highly recommend this album and it comes at a great price, so do remember to support the band if you enjoy it. I’m confident that you will enjoy it as much as I did.

I hope you enjoy Pompei.

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