The first time I listened to the album, “Fight For Their Rights” – a concept album written, arranged, performed and produced by the musician and neuroscientist Pietro Cottone, I was in awe. This work felt like Cottone had really captured something down with this release, something that doesn’t happen all that often, a recording that separates spectacular and great from merely good and average. Musically, the album is a collection of songs that offer typical progressive rock flaunts of exuberant instrumental virtuosity, atmospheric passages, soaring vocals, and melodious ballads. Each song encompasses its own lyrical tale covering the album’s overarching theme, which expresses the songwriter’s perspective of the social and political challenges the world is facing. In support of the downtrodden and the discriminated, Pietro’s lyricism brings to bear the evils of oppression and persecution with stark vivid imagery.
Right from the opening title track, “Fight for their rights”, you will be drawn in by the complex dynamics, a hard rock driven soundscape, harmoniously compressed to form a variegated compound and digressions thereof. The songs kick off in an enthralling manner clearly launching its message: “Someone may enslave them because they are children. Someone may ban them because they are Muslim. Someone may hurt them ‘cause they are homeless and they own nothing. Someone may rape them because they are women. Don’t pretend its fine, take your own part. Don’t pretend you are blind, fight for their rights.”
Over and above the superb lyric sheets, But what makes this an outstanding album is undoubtedly the music. It goes without saying that pure talent wouldn’t do much without the assistance of an equally great line-up, and Pietro Cottone has put together an impressive production team, as well as outstanding players and singers. Not least, lead powerhouse lead vocalist Chandler Mogel, who has an impeccable range.
Pietro Cottone incorporates all the myriad elements of his musical persona into one cohesive—albeit jarring—sonic tapestry, where his songwriting is embellished by his stratospheric lead guitar flourishes. “Throw down your weapons now” is a meticulously composed piece with a spontaneous energy that perfectly expounds the theories on how imperialism leads to armed conflicts. “Hooker” is an extravagant spectacle of creativity, where the bass grooves and guitar riffs dominate the lively rhythmic pace. Here Cottone investigates all the tangents of the life of a prostitute.
As we move ahead, the album demonstrates the power of song sequencing and the value of treating albums as conceptual wholes, to be heard in a single sitting, from start to finish. “Star of David” examines the memories of a holocaust survivor, on a mellower mid-tempo backdrop where lead singer Mogel excels in tonal clarity and melodic expression.
“Masters of new speak” is one of many songs that introduces a whole new level of technical maneuvering. The track which is based on George Orwell’s 1984, features some resonant Hammond Sk1 playing by Marco Cossu. Jerry Sadowski’s drums keep the pace perfectly while Cottone explodes forth some fiery guitar lines.
Leaving no stone unturned Pietro Cottone tackles the theme of the Catholic Inquisition on “Litany”. The music moves between bombastic and beautiful, all coordinated exquisitely, with each musician taking turns in the spotlight and complimenting each other’s vibes, to augment the vitality of this piece.
The motivational track, “Rise again” speaks about the daily routine of trying and failing in the cycle of the addiction. The intimate synergy that the bass and drums melodies are working on throughout this track is something that will bewilder the senses into awe. Cottone’s bursts of jaw-dropping guitar antics is not far behind.
As far as entertainment value goes, the album obviously emphasizes on elaborate technical work, but it manages to orchestrate them in a manner that is captivatingly euphonic. “Partisans” is the story of the resistance to Nazi occupation by a group of partisans during a frigid winter in Ronco, a tiny northern Italy village.
Anthemic in its conception, the song strikes the ideal balance between virtuosity and palatability. The account of an African migrant who is about to cross the sea to escape from war and poverty, “Migrant” is both poignant and powerful. The vocals retain the same emotional depth I have come to expect after listening to 8 tracks.
“We the people can brighten this world” is a fast paced message on the detrimental effects man has on his environment, among other things, and closes the album with a positive message. This album is about as close to recording perfection as one can get.
Even during its most harrowing moments, every instrument comes through in full dimension, and is balanced with a mix that is worthy of praise. Despite its refined sense of musical and technical calibration, “Fight For Their Rights” retains a warmth and an organic appeal. While the classics of progressive rock are present in spirit here, many other rock influences filter through.
Pietro Cottone has brought something new and unexpected to the table, fusing his many skills into something intelligent, emotional, and as musically proficient as a listener could hope for.
A note of interest: Pietro Cottone is a neuroscientist working on addiction, who has published over 50 papers in international Journals. He is also an Associate Professor at Boston University. A book on food addiction, edited by Cottone and his associates, will be published soon and can be pre-ordered HERE