Sometimes, I am late to the party when it comes to a band. I was late, certainly, for the latest album from Villagers of Ioannina City (VIC), but it seems to have worked out pretty well. With their recent signing to Napalm Records, the label is re-releasing their 2019 album “Age of Aquarius” on April 3rd. This album has been dominating my ears for the past couple months.
VIC hails from Greece. It was interesting to me to discover that fact since my mind automatically connected them to Mother of Millions, also from Greece. The band lineup includes only first names, as far as I can find: Alex (guitar/vox), Akis (bass), Aris (drums), Kostantis (clarinet, winds), and Kostas (bagpipe).
You will notice, I am sure, that this band has some instruments you wouldn’t normally find in a rock band. Rest assured, VIC provides enthralling, expansive progressive heavy rock, but that sound is heavily produced through more than just guitars. You will hear a hefty portion of clarinet and bagpipe, specifically, with some songs being completely led by bagpipe melodies. It’s a completely different sort of sound than many of us are used to hearing, but the overall results are not that far from what I know the progressive community appreciates. Naturally, the band features a significant folk sound, too.
I just need to stop here for a second and emote about this album. “Age of Aquarius” is a sprawling, exciting work of art, full stop. It is evocative, organic, psychedelic, and completely hypnotic for me. The band is so very good at crafting an immersive atmosphere tinged with whirling, wild instrumentals. The vocals from Alex, too, are textured and glorious; and, combining that with the distinct “classic rock” tone of the guitars, the album ends up feeling mysterious and familiar at the same time.
Much like Mother of Millions, VIC seems to be preaching their mantra, enchanting us with peace, diversity, and a celebration of humanity. This album will have you searching your soul, dancing in the night, and embracing Father Sun. It truly takes you away into something so very distant, yet also very near and hopeful. The pealing bagpipes, eerie clarinet, and thundering rock sounds are like a tapestry of grand human emotion and Being. I cannot get enough of it.
I assure you that every single song on this record is wonderful. The singles released were “Father Sun” and “For the Innocent”. The former is one of the boldest tracks on the album with its hefty bagpipes, folksy vibes, and super catchy chorus. The rock is strong with this one, too. I also love “For the Innocent”, being one of the more “rock” tracks on the album, and it really has this 90s alt rock sound to it that I love, especially in the chorus.
Those two songs aren’t my favorites. Probably my favorite overall, “Age of Aquarius” is a title track to savor. It starts low and slow, and feels psychedelic and somehow spiritual. As it builds and grows, the song burns more and more musical fire, and finally explodes in utter brilliance. I absolutely love this song. I also really like “Dance of Night” with its dark, almost tribal sound, as if truly dancing around a great fire at night. “Millennium Blues” also impresses with its folksy blues sound that the band manages to perfect. You will groove along with it, and you won’t want it to end. Finally, “Cosmic Soul” strives to be my favorite here because it is so very good. The mesmerizing beat provides a slow burn, but the guitars come in strongly near the end.
So, I was late on this VIC release, but it seems I am also right on time to help them with their Napalm Records debut. “Age of Aquarius” is a bold, mature statement from a band that I see as destined for further greatness. This is music that will speak to your very flesh and blood, music that longs for you to become part of the space and time in which you inhabit. This is human energy, and I have fallen for it.
Find VIC online:
can we get a list of all prog albums with bagpipe?