Friday, June 5, 2009

Grand Halls 25

SAILOR FREE – “The Fifth Door” CD ’94 (The Labyrinth, Ita) – Ask anybody! Go ahead, ask anybody, you scallywag! Really, you ask anyone what I would’ve said in 1994 had you mentioned the country Italy. Two words would have come out of my pie-hole and they would’ve been “Paul Chain.” Maybe in any year, but sure as hell in the early ‘90’s Italy’s underground son of gloom & doom, Paul Chain was right on the tip of my tongue. Proof positive is that my 15 year old son was named after him. And yet…that wasn’t all that was happening in that boot-shaped land of fine food and art. Another was this 2nd release from the unheralded band called SAILOR FREE.

SAILOR FREE appear to have been from Rome (after all, that’s where their fan club address was shown on the CD and where the album was recorded). Already, that’s pretty damn cool. Rome. I’m seeing visions of the Coliseum, gladiator, all that shit. There were 4 gladiators…er…musicians in SAILOR FREE by the names of: David Petrosino (vocals, piano, mellotron…cool!., minimoog, VSC3, Vox organ, etc.), The Hook (!!!) (electric & acoustic guitar), Stefano Tony (drums, percussion) & Alphonso Nini (bass). They also have an album prior to this one which I’ve yet to be able to obtain but today we’re here to talk about “The Fifth Door.”

I picked up this CD from a prog rock dealer at a convention and, to be honest, was expecting something rather different than I got. The band name, title and ethereal artwork made me think I was in store for something like Yes’ “Drama” or even Gentle Giant. Had I known it would roll like this, I’d’ve been willing to pay a lot more than the $6 I spent. Opening with a haunting intro entitled shockingly “Intro II,” SAILOR FREE tear into “Wild.” This very un-proggy opener is borne on a heavy riff not unlike Sabbath’s “The Mob Rules.” Damn, I’m liking! The heavy rock continues on with “The Token,” a longer cut at nearly 6:00 and more mid-paced, cruising along on a rhythm that could’ve shown up on Side 3 of “Physical Graffiti.” The band make an art out of melodic yet heavy rock over during the early part of this album, often combining crunching chords & wah-wah leads with subtle keys and vocals that remind this writer of the old Wishbone Ash’s Martin Turner. But before you think that SAILOR FREE are a leopard that can’t change spots, check out the psych-laden title cut, “The Fairy Queen” and “A Miracle.” All in the 6 minute range, they give the band opportunity to extrapolate from their style and forge a super-unique sound. I point to the middle of those selections, “The Fairy Queen” in particular. Here they take a journey that begins in very mellow fashion and leads the listener on a path of increasing intensity that will have you wondering “How’d we get here from there?” once the heavy riffs kick in. While David Petrosino’s vox & keys seem to guide the band’s songs & direction, it’s The Hook’s powerful guitar work that’s the engine.

“The Fifth Door” is an album that begs to be listened to in it’s entirety. Much like more known gems like “Argus” and “A Farewell To Kings,” it’s the kind of record that is composed of individual songs yet sees them fuse together in a wonderful flow that is such a joy to listen to from beginning to end. My only negative thought, every time I listen to this overlooked masterpiece is just that: why don’t more people know about this baby?! It’s a classic must-find for fans of hard rock, prog and more! 10.0


The RIpple Effect said...

Wow, a ten. I have to check this out

raysrealm said...

This is excellent, excellent stuff. I still need to track down their 1st record. It's one of those things that's prog without sounding prog...if that makes any sense.

Handala said...

Hi, here's David Petrosino. Thanks for the review! Sailor Free are planning a reunion starting from January 2010. By the way, if you like to have a copy of the first album, just let me know on
Hi mate!