Lee Speaks About Music… #74

Stems – Conqueror

C - S


The Conqueror’s 5th album Stems sees the band heading in perhaps with more of a more modern flavour and approach, though the album still very much contains some great diversity and progression along it’s path that you will find on most of their albums. Once again besides the familiar 2 musicians of the band Natale Russo & Simona Rigano a couple of new musicians joined the band, and the band had reverted back to a 4 piece band rather than a 5 piece.

This is also the same line-up that they toured with to promote their new album at the time in 2014 and the live DVD/CD release of Un’altra Verità came off the back of that tour, and got released in the following year.

So far I have the bands first 2 albums and their live DVD/CD and have had them for quite awhile now along with this album and have already reviewed their first 2 albums Istinto and Storie Fuori Dal Tempo. Because I enjoy the bands music that much I shall also eventually get around to buying their 3rd and 4th albums 74 Giorni and Madame Zelle.

Though I have to confess that doing a review for the Conqueror’s studio albums is quite a task, simply because this is an Italian band where all the lyrics to their songs in the booklet that comes with the CD’s are in Italian, and you cannot find any of their lyrics on the internet so I can simply copy and paste them into a translator to understand what they are singing about.

To do any review of a Conqueror album I have to type the words in Italian into my word processor so that I can then copy and paste them into a translator. I have to confess this is painstaking process of doing things, which is why I sometimes get frustrated and it takes me awhile to even think of doing it. Hence the reason why these reviews take longer to surface, because I have to be in the right mood to tackle them :))))))).

I have asked the bands founder Natale on a few occasions now if he could send me the lyrics even if they are in Italian. I do not expect him to translate them and surely one of the members of the band must have them written down on a computer somewhere, so that he could simply copy and paste them into an email and send them to me.

I have even asked him to put them on the bands website and oddly enough it states on the back of the booklet that comes with this album. “For the English translation of our lyrics please visit our website”. Well I have been there loads of times and they are still not on there. It’s like banging my head against a brick wall :)))))).

So before I delve into the review of the album Stems. Let’s first as always take a look at the packaging and artwork.

The Packaging & Artwork…


The album Stems comes in a very well made cardboard Digipak and it even comes with a pocket to store the booklet and a plastic tray that seats the disc nicely and supports the packaging very well by adding that bit of extra strength to it all. All the linear notes about the production and the band and their instrumentation is in English. The 12 page booklet contains a few pictures and all the lyrics are printed in Italian.

The Artwork.

The photos in the booklet and the one on the front cover are credited to the Conqueror themselves. The photo editing and layout was done by Alberto Leo. To be honest I have no idea what the picture on the front cover is. It may be a piano or it could even be one of those weaving machines for all I know, and I fail to see how it relates to the albums title of Stems.

Personally I would of thought a picture of the stems that one records in their DAW on their computer would of been more appropriate, or even the stems from some flowers as an example. There is also a couple of pictures of flowers inside the booklet. But whatever this is on the front cover, it’s not a stem at all or any sort of stems I am afraid. I honestly do not get what on earth they was trying to portray here. Or maybe I am just as Thick As A Brick :)))))).

The only other logical explanation I can come up with to explain what we have here on the front cover is that a stem or stems can also be a central part of something from which other parts can develop or grow. This usually relates to a plant, but I guess if it is an actual part of a piano that’s on that front cover. I can see where they are coming from.

The Album In Review…

The album Stems by the Conqueror was released sometime in April 2014. It contains 8 tracks all of which are vocal tracks and contains no instrumental tracks. Though like most of their vocal tracks do tend to incorporate and inject quite a bit of instrumentation into their songs in the way of interaction between all the musicians that you would find in most prog rock music. The overall playing time of the album is just over 62 minutes.

Conqueror are not the kind of band who will knock out an album every year, and take their time working on the music they present to you when a new album finally arrives. Most of the tracks on the album Stems are quite long too, and the biggest majority of them are around the 6 to 10 minute mark.

So this is not like the bands 2009 EP release of Sprazzi di Luce which was more of a commercial release with shorter songs on it. In many respects even though this album may seem like a it has a more modern approach, the band have no doubt kept their distinctive style even with this current line-up. Even down to using poetry for the lyrics.

So let’s now take a look at the album credits and musicians.

Musicians & Credits…

The Band

The 2014 Line-Up Of The Band

Produced by Conqueror & Ma.Ra.Cash Records. Recorded and mixed at iXplon Studios between January – March. Sound Engineer: Ottavio Leo. Mastering by Ludnica Recording Studio. Studio Assistant Natale Russo. Photos by Conqueror. Photo Editing & layout by Alberto Leo. Art Direction by Natale Russo & Simona Rigano. Duplication by Houston Corporation.

Simona Rigano: Keyboards and Voice.
Ture Pagano: Guitar.
Peppe Papa: Bass.
Natale Russo: Drums.

The Album Tracks In Review…

All the songs on the album Stems was written, produced and performed by the Conqueror. It’s all original material though the band do also sometimes play other artists material from time to time, and have even appeared on a few tribute albums playing the odd song here and there of some of the more known prog rock bands from the 70’s.

To be perfectly honest I have seen quite a few tribute bands play live over the years and quite enjoy their live shows. But no way could I buy an album done by them unless they was exceptionally good at it. But overall I prefer original material and I buy the albums of the original artists and not that of a tribute band. I do have a couple of various artist tributes albums though that was done by various prog rock bands in tribute to other prog rock artists.

Though in general I am not even one for various artists albums or the best of and greatest hits albums. I tend to stick to original albums only such as this one by the Conqueror.

Like many musicians who wind up on a Conqueror album they do not tend to last that long before they leave. Apart from the main 2 members Simona & Natale that is. Some of the musicians who have contributed to their albums also may pop back once in awhile. But no matter who comes into the band, they tend to generally slot in and are well capable musicians to do a grand job of it all.

Both the guitarist Ture Pagano and the bass player Peppe Papa have slotted very well into the band for this particular album, and they also done a grand job on the bands live album and DVD Un’altra Verità to which I shall review next month at some point.

Both musicians joined the band in 2013 and the bass player Peppe Papa left the band not long after they toured the album Stems in 2014. The guitarist Ture Pagano did stay on with the band up until 2016 before he left, so no doubt there will be another new line up for their next album which is due to be released this year.

So let’s take a deeper look into the songs we have on the album Stems as I go through the individual tracks in my review here.

Track 1. Gina.

The album kicks off with the longest track on the album “Gina” and as the title suggests it’s the name of a person, so no translation needed at this point at all. Once again the band stick to their normal style of writing poetry for the lyrics, and the words are based around falling in love and knowing if you can put your trust in somebody enough to spend the rest of your life with them.

Musically I quite like the spring like sound coming from Peppe Papa’s bass strings on the intro. The sound of his bass on this studio version does not project quite as dominantly enough on the live version that’s on the live album Un’altra Verità.

The song also features a near enough 5 minute instrumental break which contains some fine transnational changes and features some rather nice keyboard and guitar solos. It’s a great start to the album.

Track 2. Di Notte.

The 2nd track on the album is very much a contender for the top spot on the album, it features some great keyboard and guitar work and the band interact really well with each other. The title translates to “At Night” in English and the lyrical content is pretty hard to decipher in the way that it’s been written in the form of a poem.

But it seems to pertain to night and day in the sense of some kind of passing over from one world into another, like when somebody dies perhaps and their spirit awakens in the morning to a new journey and new life.

Track 3. False Idee.

False Idee” or “False Ideas” is very much like a two part track in that near enough 4 minutes of it is an instrumental introduction, which features once again some great interplay between band. It even has quite a medieval Scottish feel about the first 25 seconds of the intro. Then it goes into a guitar section that is almost verging on some melodies lines from “Echoes” by Pink Floyd.

It’s not like Floyd’s epic piece at all but for some reason it does have me thinking of it. It goes through some fine transitional changes throughout the instrumental section with both the keyboards and guitar exchanging some fine lead work. It all comes down and the second part is more of an acoustic section which opens up with some strummed out chords on the acoustic guitar, allowing the vocals to come into play.

It’s also perhaps a bit more orchestrated with the piano and keyboards. The lyrical content is based around the false ideas in the pretence of how we see and perceive things, and how they can perhaps look different in the night time in relation to in the day. The words are very poetic and deep. It’s another great track and contender for the top spot on the album I feel.

Track 4. Un’altra Realtà.

The next track on the album translates to “Another Reality“. I have to confess I have no idea where the band got the idea for the poetic lyrical content and subject matter for the songs on this album. In the past the band based their poetry around legends and myths, and even ghostly tales. The material here is perhaps a bit different, though I dare say it was inspired from something they very much read about.

The lyrical content for this particular song is perhaps pertained to one choosing sincerity or hypocrisy or putting on a false mask to hide behind the truth. The song flows along very well and contains some fine chord changes and diversity, and the guitar solo towards the end lifts it up quite well.

Track 5. Sole al Buio.

This song starts very much like a love ballad with Simona‘s fine voice and her playing on the electric piano. In some respects this song is a bit like a reverse of “False Idee” in that it does feature a long musical section, only here it comes in after the vocal section and then the song goes back to where it started with the vocals after the break.

Though it may be sung like a love song, it’s title translates to “Sun In The Dark” and the lyrical subject matter is based upon beliefs in the way that the things we seen so many years ago back in our past, no longer speak reality as one gets older. I suppose it could even be about religious beliefs that was instilled into us as a child, that turned out to be nothing more than broken promises at the end of the day.

I quite like how the band put their lyrics into the context of fine poetry and this verse from the song perhaps sums up the title of “Sun In The Dark” we have here: “But where are the promises that have ended, reassured my needs closed in a box. Forgot left alone in the dark, abandoned like this”.

Track 6. C’est la Vie.

The title here is very much from the French language and translates to “It’s Life“. It’s quite a lively song on the album too and has a bit of zip and zest about it. I quite like this one and once again it’s like the reverse of the 2nd track on the album “False Idee” and is mostly an instrumental piece. The singing section at the beginning lasts all of about 1 minute and 25 seconds, then the band do the business for the next 4 minutes.

It’s also the shortest track on the album and features a very tasty keyboard and guitar solo. It’s certainly got some really great diversity and progression along its path. It does sound familiar to something else in parts and it’s ending reminds me a bit like the ending you would find on “Hocus Pocus” by Focus.

Lyrically the words are pertaining to how short life is, and how everything runs fast and how time only stops momentarily now and then for us to take it all in. It’s a really great track and another contender for the top spot on the album.

Here is the studio version of the track from the bands Youtube Channel.

Track 7. Sigurtà.

Well the only translation for the title of this one comes from the Maltese language and it translates “Sigurtà” to “Security“. When looking at the poetry we have here, the only way I can see they relate to security is perhaps by feeling more secure with all the natural beauty and colours that surround us. It’s another fine piece of work the band do here and I quite like how the song builds up towards the end and ends at its climax. It’ s very much another contender for the top spot on the album.

Track 8. Echi di Verità.

The final track on the album is the 2nd longest track and its title translates to “Echoes Of The Truth“. Lyrically most of the songs on this album refer to poetry and night and day, and a sense of finding the real reality. It’s almost like the poet himself sees something in his own poetry that is quite different to how things really are.

This is another one of those songs that comes with a long instrumental intro before the vocals come into play. It’s also perhaps more of an instrumental piece too and ends off the album very well.


To sum up the Conqueror’s 5th studio album Stems. There is no doubt the band went about the material that was written for it in their usual great style of combining musical structures with poetry. The album does have some great diversity and progression along its path. I do however feel they went about a lot of the songs we have here more or less in the same way with how they have been structured and arranged. For this reason I find it very hard to choose a favourite track on the album, because it does not really have a stand out track.

I do not think the album Stems is as solid as the bands first two albums, but never the less it’s still a very enjoyable album from start to finish. My personal highlights from the album are as follows: “Di Notte“. “False Idee“. “C’est la Vie” and “Sigurtà“. It’s hard to pick a favourite from these 4 songs because they all speak to me in the same way and I do think they are the strongest tracks on the album, that stand out more so than the others.


To conclude my review of Stems by the Conqueror. Overall it’s a pretty good album and nothing really disappoints at all out of the 8 tracks you get here and it’s quite a satisfying enough album. No doubt the album does have some sort of a concept about it, and even the ideas for the poetic lyrics have been inspired by some story or another and the band tend to stick to this format with all their albums in general.

No doubt the album is worthy of its price point of 15 Euro and unlike all the other albums of the Conqueror this particular album for some reason is not available to purchase from Bandcamp. So you can only buy the physical CD I am afraid.

The best and cheapest place to obtain the CD is from the bands website or via contacting the bands drummer Natale Russo on the following email nat@conqueror.it and paying via Paypal. Be sure to add on another 2 Euro to cover the postage and packing. I have provided a link to the website below.

The Silences That I Never Have Forgot, Now They Come Back…

You can purchase the CD of Stems from the bands website here: http://www.conqueror.it/eng/stems.asp

The album track listing is as follows:

01. Gina. 10:57.
02. Di Notte. 7:37.
03. False Idee. 7:42.
04. Un’altra Realtà. 6:28.
05. Sole al Buio. 6:43.
06. C’est la Vie. 5:43.
07. Sigurtà. 8:28.
08. Echi di Verità. 7:30.

Lee’s Packaging Rating Score. 10/10.

Lee’s Price Point Rating Score. 10/10.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 7/10.











Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s