Reviews of the latest CD and DVD releases in the world of progressive rock

November 24, 2013
HUIS - DESPITE GUARDIAN ANGELS
by Robert Dansereau

Despite Guardian Angels is the first album by Montreal prog rock band Huis. The band is composed of an excellent gathering of seasoned veterans of the Montreal music scene including Michel Joncas on bass, Pascal Lapierre on keyboards, Sylvain Descoteaux on vocals, William Régnier on drums and Michel St-Père on guitars. Formed in late 2009 by Michel and Pascal, with Sylvain, William and Michel joining the band more recently, the quintet hit the studios early in the summer of 2013 to record their sensational debut album.

Despite Guardian Angels incorporates all of the staples of a great prog rock album, including lush instrumentation, odd time signatures, sharp tempo changes, well balanced, omnipresent keyboards with hammond, moog and mellotron tones, mesmerizinc compositions impeccably interpreted, highly cohesive, never going overboard on the symphonic side, and with Michel St-Père's elegant and tasteful guitar work throughout. The album as a whole flows incredibly well between the vocal and instrumental components.

The musical themes explored on this album range from medieval sounds inspired by Alan Parsons, to snappy and energetic rock compositions, all the way to soaring melodic symphonic prog rock, and features a well-balanced mix of ballads and rhythmic compositions, with strong classic progressive rock roots, but sill remakably original and refreshing.

Highlights are the excellent instrumental compositions Oude Kerk I & II featuring fantastic guitar solos and a great rhythm section, and the stunning Little Anne showcasing Sylvain's melodious vocals, with a serene intro that builds into a lofty crescendo. There are no long epics on Despite Guardian Angels, with track lengths ranging between 3 and 9 minutes, a total of 11 tracks clocking at 73 minutes.

What a wonderful new musical discovery! Fans of highly melodic symphonic progressive music will enjoy this new album thoroughly. Highly recommended!


4.5 out of 5

track list:
1- Beyond the Amstel
2- Haunted Nights (Instrumental)
3- The Last Journey
4- Oude Kerk I (instrumental)
5- Lights and Bridges
6- Little Anne
7- If By Morning
8- Oude Kerk II (Instrumental)
9- Write Your Name
10- Salvation
11- Garden of Dust

Total time: 73:00

Lineup:
Michel Joncas: bass
Pascal Lapierre: keyboards
Sylvain Descoteaux: vocals
William Régnier: drums
Michel St-Père: guitars.

Release info:
Unicorn Digital - release date early January 2014


January 26, 2013
ANTONIUS REX - HYSTERO DEMONOPATHY
by Eric Caron

The music of Antonius Rex leaves no one indifferent! You either like it or hate it!

The latest CD from this italian band is no exception…
Hystero Demonopathy is quite captivating. A very progressive sound, rich in harmonies and often dark melodies, much like the soundtrack of a scary thriller or heroic fantasy flick!

The first track of the epic, the main title Hystero Demonopathy is a powerful overture. Rich organ textures are ubiquitous in the music of this band, as well as other Antonio Bartoccetti projects such as Jacula. A gregorian chant choir makes the theme somehow very catchy. The guitar riffs are impressive. the next track is more subtle but very dark, entitled Suicide Goth. A sad ballad with a poignant theme. The keyboards dominate much like the rest of the album. The intro of Are Mine makes room for acoustic guitars quickly substituted for an energetic metal guitar sound and lush keyboards. There are no vocals in the music itself, aside from female vocal narrations throughout the compositions, ranging from pain to ecstasy depending on the theme of the track.

After a poem narrated in italian of course, the fourth track Disincantation offers a magical journey where the guitar work ventures into blues. Demonic Hysteria is a very sinister composition, sort of a goth metal trip hop sound with blistering guitar solos. Followed by the evocative-titled The Devil's Nightmare, pursuing in the same dark theme, a horrifying cavalcade accompanied by powerful musical themes. The track Witches has a Tim-Burton-esque intro, continuing through much like a languishing march of lost souls. Followed by The Fatal Letter, despite a cheerful intro accompanied by the narration of another poem, remains mournful, ending much like a composition from 90's popular band Enigma. The last piece of the album has such a cinematic theme, is sounds much like the soundtrack of a brutal horror movie.

In short, dark, rich instrumental music that conjures quite a bit of imagery as you listen to it. The project still remains somehow out-of-the-box and requires open-mindedness to truly appreciate it. As mentioned at the beginning, you'll either like it or hate it! You can listen to this CD for a few weeks on the www.progstreaming.com website.


3 out of 5

track list:
1. Hystero Demonopathy
2. Suicide Goth
3. Are Mine
4. Disincantation
5. Demonic Hysteria
6. The Devils Nightmare
7. Witches
8. The Fatal Letter
9. Possaction (integral document)

bonus video:
Rexample (vocals soloist & riffs pt. 1)

Total time: 59:20

Lineup:
Antonio Bartoccetti: guitars, vocals, bass
Rexanthony: vocals, keyboards, synths, piano, digital drum/orchestra
Monika Tasnad: medium

Release info:
Black Widow Records BWR 153-2 (on CD and on vinyl) December 12, 2012


November 20, 2011
TRURL - DO NOT SEE ME RABBIT
by Robert Dansereau

The name may be unfamiliar, but the keyboard sound on this album is unmistakable. Trurl is the pseudonym of one of the founding members of Glass Hammer, Fred Schendel, and Do Not See Me Rabbit is his recent instrumental album, available through Bandcamp.

Fred played every instrument on this album, and with a little bit of studio magic, made it sound just incredible. He worked on this project between 2005 and 2006, but decided to discretely make it available on Bandcamp in September 2011.

Do Not See Me Rabbit is an energetic exuberant instrumental album, featuring a series of well-crafted tracks that meld synthetizers with the classic sound of the Hammond organ and grand piano. Great harmonies and catchy melodies with a definite Glass Hammer sound, and a few unusual sonic experiments thrown in for good measure. This is a must for all Glass Hammer fans and a great representation of the musical range and genius of Fred Schendel.

Do Not See Me Rabbit is one of those undiscovered little gems that I hope won't remain in anonymity for too long. The album is available through Bandcamp for a very reasonable fee, and there might be a physical CD release eventually if there is demand for it.


4.5 out of 5

track list:
1. Indoctrination . . . . 8:47
2. Affirmation and Tasty Snacks . . . . 9:27
3. Chest Pain and Sophistry . . . . 5:44
4. Passion and Industry . . . . 7:11
5. Travels with Lemon On A Stick . . . . 0:51
6. Opposition and The Great Toe Of Enlightenment . . . . 6:25
7. Bonus Track (2009): Whirled Peas . . . . 3:51

Total Time 42 minutes

Line-up:
Fred Schendel: All instruments, production and engineering

Release info:
Digital download through Bandcamp. Released: September 15, 2011


January 2, 2010
THE BOX - LE HORLA DE MAUPASSANT
by Robert Dansereau

Formed in 1981, The Box is best known for its classic hits Must I Always Remember, Closer Together and L'Affaire Dumoutier (Say to Me) that played on the airwaves of CKOI and CHOM in Montreal at the end of the 20th century. The band's keyboardist, singer and main composer, Jean Marc Pisapia presents this new Box album, this time entirely in French, its concept based on the short story Le Horla by Guy de Maupassant. My first audition just blew me away!

Definitely their most "progressive" album to date, it has a wide variety of rhythms, including mesmerizing atmospheric themes, beautiful melodies and a surprising level of energy, all the while keeping the traditional The Box sound. The instrumentation is quite varied, from the accordion to a mean, distorted Hammond B3, and from the most delicate piano melodies to the the most energetic rock tones, a few passages on the compositions L'eau le vin et le lait and Sous Hypnose even reminding me at times of the best years of Deep Purple. Un impénétrable mystère offers a few lyrics in latin and J'ai vu includes a brilliant mix of intense rock rhythms and hypnotizing melodies.

Launched at the end of 2009, this is my first musical discovery of the new year, and probably one of the most captivating albums i've had the pleasure of listening to in many years. To all fans of progressive rock, don't hesitate to get this album, it features a high level of quality in the composition and instrumentation department, and it's en Français!


4.5 out of 5

track list:
1. Ouverture (6:15)
2. Incubus (9:14)
3. L'Eau, Le Lait, Le Vin (6:30)
4. Mont Saint Michel (10:57)
5. Le Chat Noir (2:12)
6. Un Impénétrable Mystère (6:49)
7. À Bougival (5:07)
8. Sous Hypnose (7:01)
9. J'ai Vu (8:47)
10. Super 61 (3:44)

Total Time 66:30

Line-up:
François «Ace» Bruneau / Guitars
Martin Lapierre / Drums
Isabelle Lemay / Vocals
Guillaume Marchand / Keyboards
Jean-Marc Pisapia / Vocals, Keyboards
Daniel Volji / Bass

Release info:
single CD • Les Disques Passeport (PAS-CD-1228) • Nov. 11 2009


ALSO REVIEWED:

TOMAS BODIN - I AM
CANVAS SOLARIS - PENUMBRA DIFFUSE
THE D PROJECT - SHIMMERING LIGHTS
DREAM THEATER - SYSTEMATIC CHAOS
THE FLOWER KINGS - PARADOX HOTEL
FROGG CAFÉ - FORTUNATE OBSERVER OF TIME
FROST* - MILLIONTOWN
GLASS HAMMER - THE INCONSOLABLE SECRET
HELMET OF GNATS - HELMET OF GNATS
JADIS - PHOTOPLAY
CHARLES KACZYNSKI - LUMIÈRE DE LA NUIT
MAGENTA - THE GATHERING (DVD)
MARTIN MAHEUX CIRCLE - SIBYLLE
LA MASCHERA DI CERA - LUXADE
MIRIODOR - PARADE + LIVE AT NEARFEST
DAVID MYERS - DAVID MYERS PLAYS GENESIS
PAATOS - SILENCE OF ANOTHER KIND
PALLAS - THE DREAM OF MEN
PORCUPINE TREE - FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET
RITUAL - THE HEMULIC VOLUNTARY BAND
RPWL - START THE FIRE - LIVE
SAGA - 10 000 DAYS
ROINE STOLT - WALL STREET VOODOO
DARYL STUERMER - REWIRED (THE ELECTRIC COLLECTION)
SYMPOZION - KUNDABUFFER
STEVE THORNE - EMOTIONAL CREATURES, PART TWO
THE TANGENT - A PLACE IN THE QUEUE
UNITOPIA - MORE THAN A DREAM
WASTEFALL - SELF EXILE
YETI RAIN - DISCARNATE

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