Interior City is the debut studio album of the Chicago based vocalist and multi-instrumentalist: Gabriel Lucas Riccio. Interior City’s dark and atmospheric mood showcases, “one person’s tumultuous journey to regain their self respect and their ability to fully engage with the world around them, in the process revealing the darkest thoughts that drive society as a whole”. Feelings of anguish, paranoia, and escapism are the bread and butter of Riccio’s first masterpiece. Riccio’s careful combination and layering of several musical genres are what make this 10 track LP so unique. Uniting players from rock, metal, classical, and jazz backgrounds is what really allows this album to breath and convey its powerful message of the mind state that is: inner isolation.
Arrival in a Distant Land (opening piece) can be compared to a light rainfall. Atmospherically pleasant drops of the keys of a Grand Piano (here and there) paint a dark picture that I would argue in combination with Riccio’s high baritone vocal type is soothing to the listener (despite the messages/images of constraint in the lyrics). The second track on Riccio’s debut LP is entitled ‘Ranting Prophet’ and opens in a very similar way. This time, however, our light rainfall escalates to a strong torrential downpour mid-way through the course of the song. Classical music turned into a full-fledge heavy metal assault packed with electric guitars, drums, violins, and large choirs of dissonant vocal harmonies. The message is tragic and heart wrenching (especially if you’ve suffered and/or are suffering from depression) but the delivery of it is beautiful. Riccio’s vocals on this track (and a couple other tracks on Interior City) actually somewhat reminded me of Serj Tankian’s work as the lead singer for System of a Down. Both of them have this angelic type voice that just belongs in metal (never thought I would use the words “angelic” and “metal” in the same sentence…but these voices truly are rare).
That being said, there are some downfalls to Interior City. The first being that Riccio’s ‘rare’ voice is sometimes lost in the inconsonant sounds of his music. Although properly mixed and mastered, at times there is so much going on in a particular piece that the listener simply loses focus. Furthermore, as you dive deeper into the album I believe that some listeners will find it becomes increasingly harder to digest. For example, the song “Subway Cars”. What I believe to be screeches of subway cars in combination with some of the other background sounds make it extremely difficult for the listener to stay engaged with Riccio throughout the course of the entire song. Are these sounds intentional placed to add effect to a sort of ‘confused’ effect to the piece? They could be. Is it my opinion that they are distracting from the overall message? Yes.
Overall, Interior City is an excellent piece of avant-garde progressive ear candy. Even though I feel like Riccio gave away his baby (the song ‘Ranting Prophet’) a little too soon in the album and that then some of his other songs were a slightly over complicated and hard to follow. That being said, if you’re a fan of any of the following bands: Devin Townsend, Failure, The Mars Volta, Periphery, System of a Down; Interior City by The Gabriel Construct is definitely something worth checking out.