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Italy's Finest, Part IV: Farewell - 90%

TheBurningOfSodom, August 8th, 2018

1988 seemed the right time for the world to finally see Bulldozer like they deserved to be, no more a Venom tribute band, but rather a truly peculiar band with its very own brand of music. In the light of these reflections, IX marked definitely a 180-degrees turn from the past, more than it did music-wise. It was finally the moment for the Milanese crew to ride their wave of popularity, maybe the band members expected it to be the best year for the band's career so far. But then, in April, co-founder and former bassist Dario Carria committed suicide and complicated everything. AC Wild and mainly Andy Panigada were bewildered by the news, as fans were, and profoundly struck. Still, they managed to channel all the emotions of that tragedy in the songwriting for the follow-up to their breakthrough album IX, which incidentally would be their last full-length after their dissolution on good terms in 1990.

As a result, Neurodeliri possesses a drearier atmosphere which pops up every now and then. Carria also replaces AC Wild on the captivating album cover, which gives the right idea of coldness and desperation, especially if coupled with the title, referring the name of the band he created, but also being a synonym for a certain department of mental hospitals in Italian language. Regarding the music, the addition of keyboards, be it for atmospheric purposes like 'Overture''s somber, beautiful melody (which reappears also at the tail of the album, to give a 'full circle' impression I love so much) or the support at the riffs of the subsequent title-track, or again as a nice something extra like the amazing, power-infused duel with the guitar in the second half of 'Art of Deception', is mostly responsible for it.

The opener bursts with one of the scariest, most disgusting shrieks ever by AC Wild, even more so considering it was 1988, and I like to think that many vocalists of the time wholeheartedly envied his performance here. The sheer brutality of the song contrasts heavily with the heartbreaking lyrics ('Today is too late, the leader has left/This meaningless world forever') dedicated to the band and their unfortunate leader. The attack of Rob "Klister"'s drumming is unprecedented, and the few, dry keyboards notes which substitute the guitar solo complete the darkest Bulldozer song ever written, and it really makes you feel its background story. However, being this first and foremost a Bulldozer album, the feelings experienced throughout it aren't constant, and you can still find the usual less charged tunes.

As a matter of fact, note how each side of the LP is structured with two short songs, packed within two longer ones. For example, after the opener we find 'Minkions' and 'We Are... Italian' which are your average Bulldozer tunes, and are influenced by the early days of the band. In particular, the latter is uptempo with a NWOBHM-inspired riff, and it's the song tied the most with the past works, since it sounds like a direct throwback to 'Sex Symbols' Bullshit'. The lyrics are hilarious in their final twist, reaffirming how much our people can be proud to live here despite the millions of problems we have to face everyday. But just compare them to the aforementioned, brilliant 'Art of Deception', which takes no prisoners in the first half with its high speed drumming and riffing, and you got the situation. This track is also a loose sequel of the debut song 'The Great Deceiver', given the lyrical theme and the clever nod in the first verse... and both are maybe the best songs in their respective albums.

Side B, and we're at it again: we start with 'Ilona Had Been Elected' which is one of the most interesting songs on here. Despite being another track dedicated to Ilona Staller, this has a more serious aura, based on her election as a member of the parliament and the subsequent harsh criticism she had supposedly faced at the time. Amazing chorus and tempo changes, as well as intense lyrics ('Tonight, the witch has been recalled/Returned to shock the world'), though the point of view of AC Wild emerges clearly. Passing then through 'Impotence', which addresses sexual themes and it's not unlike 'Misogynists' off the previous album, and 'Mors Tua - Vita Mea', with almost black vocals by AC Wild and powerful double bass by Rob "Klister", we get into the most fitting epitaph for both Neurodeliri and Carria: 'Willful Death / You'll Be Recalled'. A truly majestic song, split in two very different parts which somehow perfectly build one single, desperate last ode to AC's and Andy's lost companion. In Panigada's words, the reprise of the intro at the end of the song is meant to symbolize Carria's final voyage to the underworld. Chilling.

Unfortunately, my final impression is that Neurodeliri has higher highs than IX, but also lower lows: the longer songs are perfect and among their best compositions to date, helped by the clinical coldness of the good production, but some of the others leave something to be desired. I don't know why, probably this time the band has inevitably built a bigger contrast between the humorous songs and the serious ones, and at worst the former feel very slightly out of place and a bit too short, instead of blending in a single, awesome mass of belligerent riffing, sex jokes and political critic like the previous album did perfectly. The fact it's even shorter, and it doesn't reach half an hour, doesn't help. We could have been talking about the absolute masterpiece of the Bulldozer career, but I feel IX still works better as a whole.

In any way, the rating I gave it should convince you that this is clearly a work of art, and that I love it way more than it may seem upon this last paragraph. This is how Bulldozer bade farewell to all of us, faithful listeners, the evidence of their full potential, the swansong of a unique band. Just listen for yourself, and feel the magic pouring out of it. Just, don't expect each and every song to be a total winner.