Antonius Rex - Praeternatural - 2004


Sometimes it´s hard to review cult albums. For example... if I say an unknown cult album is a masterpiece probably lots of people who don’t know the band will say that it's not as good as all that; but if I say the album is not as good, the fans of the band will think I´m a snob. Specially if you are writing about Antonius Rex there´s no happy medium: you love it or you hate it.


If you say Antonius Rex you say Jacula, probably one of the most unknown progressive Italian bands, but one of the most influential in lots of different genres. I wonder what would happened to Black Sabbath, Atomic Rooster or doom metal without Jacula.

Jacula released a couple of essential albums (“In Cauda Semper Stat Venenum” (1969) and “Tardo Pede in Magiam Versus” (1972)). They quickly achieved “cult band” status thanks to Latin lyrics and the gloomy line-up that included church organ and a medium!. The leader Antonio Bartoccetti, aka Antonius Rex, keeps on releasing albums. And one of the most wanted has been this “Praeternatural”, originally released in 1980 and now re-released by Black Widow. The musicians here are Bartoccetti (vocals, guitars, bass) and Doris Norton (keyboards, drums).

“Praeternatural´s” music follows the path of Jacula and the (again) essential Antonius´ solo albums, mainly “Semper Arcum Tendit Rex” (1974) or “Anno Demoni” (1979). That is, macabre and alarming cinematographic music, with a tension and variation that hypnotizes the listener.

And here we have all those elements: a macabre “Helloween” (10:08) with string arrangements that transports us to The Omen alternated with riffs a la Iommi or Black Widow (the band, not the label); a minimalist –almost childish- “Falsum et Violencia” (2:07); the tense “Praeternatural” (8:48), that ends with a crazy guitar solo wrapped by lots of organs; the cold and almost ritual beauty of “Capturing Universe” (10:47) and its sounds of Arp Odissey and Fairlight; or the opressive and film atmosphere of “Invisible Force” (11:12). The closing track, “Vox Populi” (8:42), is very funny – and unimportant – because it´s only the story of Jacula and Antonius Rex with the sound of the wind as background.


If you like horror movies, the windy winter nights, and Goblin´s music, I´m sure you´ll enjoy “Praeternatural” a lot, and you´ll notice that everything have been already invented. Those who think that dark-progressive is a new genre are completely wrong. Anyway I think you should listen to Jacula´s albums first… this style is very “particular” and perhaps it´s not your cup of tea.

author - date - rating - label

Alfonso Algora - August 2004 -   - Black Widow