When looking at Emanuele Bodo’s eponymous debut album “Unsafe Places,” you would be hard put to believe that this record wasn’t released under a bigger label, as the album is on a par with much more known names on the scene.
Taken as a whole, Bodo’s sound often hints at progressive metal, yet I feel the band have a clearly broader scope. Though the distinctive use of the double bass drum coupled with the heavy riffage featured in most of the tracks point to such genre-defining outfits as Planet X and Liquid Tension Experiment, Bodo and his band—unlike many prog metal bands and artists, instrumental or otherwise—do not bludgeon the listener with a barrage of power chords, ultra-fast drumming and shredding of every kind. There is a genuine sense of melody running through the album, tempering the heaviness of some of the sections. The band sound remarkably tight, the various instruments blending seamlessly together, and as a whole the recording projects a sense of cohesion that transcends any individual display of chops.
From a compositional point of view, the seven tracks possess a high level of complexity, yet they hardly ever sound patchy or unnecessarily convoluted. While the keyboards tend to take the lead role occasionally, on the whole Davide Cristofoli manages to keep his more outrageous antics admirably under control, leaving a lot of scope for the mainman’s remarkably restrained guitar excursions, which convey enough emotion to confer a sense of warmth and well-roundedness to the album. Emanuele Bodo and the members gathered around himself seem to be aware of the importance of a good album opener, and “Black Dunes” does not disappoint in this respect, setting the scene for what is to come. With an almost hummable riff, the number is subtly but relentlessly driven along by Carlo Ferri’s nimble bass lines, emerging at times from the instrumental fray. He is definitely a very accomplished bassist, his love of jazz evident in his agile, melodic approach, which also gets to shine in “Challenger Deep” and the closing “Chernobyl”.
On the other hand, with “House of 9,” “Landing to Giza” and “The Omen” it is Bodo who steps into the limelight, delivering a particularly beautiful, lyrical guitar solo at the end of the latter number.
While “Unsafe Places” is indeed a remarkable debut, there are a few rough edges that the band might want to smooth for their next release—such as going for a more organic drum sound (courtesy of Mattia Garimanno) to complement Ferri’s flawless bass lines. However, in spite of these minor flaws, this is undoubtedly one of the standout releases of 2019—whose appeal is not limited to fans of the harder-edged side of prog, instrumental or otherwise—and a very promising statement of intent from a very talented musician. The album is available here.