Probably the most charismatic figure of all the Italian prog scene, Antonio Bartoccetti (Antonius Rex) began his career going to Milan from the Marche, forming Jacula, Dietro Noi Deserto (even with a single on Decca in 1971!), and Invisible Force (another lonely single in 1971). Not real bands but just a group of musicians working beyond the leading figures of Bartoccetti and Doris Norton (aka Fiamma Dallo Spirito).
In 1974 a new name change to Antonius Rex and an album called “Neque semper arcum tendit rex” (Black Widow Records Cat. BWR 066). Despite a contact to release it on Vertigo, the label considered it to be too outrageous, with the black and white cover reproducing a 17th century “diabolic” letter and strong lyrics, especially in the Devil letter track. The album was planned for release on drummer Albert Goodman’s Darkness label, but it never went over a promo issue. So the first real commercially released Antonius Rex album is Zora from 1977, on the small Tickle label and, again, with an outrageous cover that was replaced with a different one a year later. Zora includes a reworking of a Jacula’s Tardo pede in magiam versus track (Morte al potere is a third revised version of U.F.D.E.M.); their main elements are as usual church organ, dark atmospheres, lyrics dealing with occultism. Originally album has four tracks and “Gnome” bonus track was presented in the later issue with different cover in 1978…now this renewed version with the original artwork includes new photos, an unreleased track and a video clip.