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Phideaux - Chupacabras CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.88 | 277 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The inmates that took over the asylum

Phideaux made huge waves in the progressive community last year when he released the colossal Doomsday Afternoon to much praise. Though in Canada his cds can be incredibly difficult to track down I eventually got to listen to Doomsday was was quite pleasantly surprised at just how good this guy could be. His combination of retro soundscapes and instruments blended together with his uniquely chilling voice and hauntingly beautiful lyrics make for a formidable force! Of course when looking for recommendations for the next album I should get by this apparent genius I was told by someone who'd known about Phideaux for much longer that this album was even better than Doomsday, just less appreciated. Well, after weeks of waiting for it to come in the mail my first listen of this album left me absolutely breathless. It's hard to wrap my head around just how good this album is!

The album itself is mostly a collection of songs that didn't make it on to other albums. But no, this is no b-side collection. The songs may have been left on the cutting room floor, but only because (as he mentions in the liner notes) Phideaux felt that each of the songs would overpower the rest of the album that they were supposed to be on. In other words, these are the best Phideaux tracks that he'd recorded and left out just because they were too good.

In terms of style we're looking at a different beast than the one who recorded Doomsday Afternoon. This Phideaux is heavier, less symphonic and at the same time more dark than the music he would later record. A pleasant treat since it's always good to see a new artist (well, he's not really that new) being so dynamic - this makes for a promising future - but people who have followed him for a while already knew that. The album is not a concept piece as is some of his later works but themes are still reused at points throughout the album to make for a very cohesive piece, although this one is a lot more eclectic in levels of heaviness and general volume going through the disc.

We start, after the short and chilling intro Okay (given atmosphere with a melancholic female voicing), by jumping strait into the piece that would have overpowered his Fiendish album. Chupacabras is a 20-minute pomp-prog epic that ''would just not stop''. This track alone is simply amazing, stunningly emotional guitar work in between some more upbeat sections make for some great hooks and sections. Obvious nods to Genesis with subtitles in the song like Supper's Calling. It's very easy to see where this track could overpower an album. Party is a much shorter song 14 years in the making (recorded as a demo in '90 and worked on again in '97 and finally finished in '04), this one a lot better than the title would suggest. Very fine short form prog, this one really paints a picture of some sort of dark and scary masquerade ball. Guitars are more subtle with the rhythm section taking charge of the more simple lyrics commanded by Phideaux's chilling voice. All in all a great tune that brings us into the next section of the album. Fortress Of Send is a drawn out slow and melancholic instrumental that takes themes from the title cut and the later Titan making for a very calm and relaxing tune.

And now it's time to rock out. The second suit on the album (broken into three tracks, but still one cohesive song) is one that was supposed to be on Ghost Story but was too likely to overpower it. This one changes the speed of the album rapidly as the first section of the song, Ruffian On The Stairs begins with a chaotic bang and presses forwards at full speed before finally slowing off allowing the Sunburnt section of the song to lull along until the climax, Return Of The Ruffian (featuring some pg-13 lyrics). This one is a lot shorter than the title cut (this one totaling about 9 minutes), but thanks to it's unique style (within the album) it's just as effective. The album finishes with another song left off of Fiendish in the form of Titan. This is a cut a lot more similar to what we'd become used to with Phideaux in the future, this one sounds like it could just have easily been recorded for Doomsday Afternoon. More mellow and emotional than it's predecessor this one finishes the album very well.

If you liked Doomsday Afternoon in any way, shape or form you should be seeking this album. Not exactly the same in terms of style, this one has a very unique feel which gives it a great amount of life. 4.5 parties out of 5! It's hard to believe just how good this album is. Let Phideaux wow you for a while.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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