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October Equus - Charybdis CD (album) cover


October Equus



3.88 | 26 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Charybdis" is a big statement of refurbishment and development of the basic RIO trend pursued by the excellent Spanish band October Equus. The listeners shouldn't expect a work of emphasis on the robust tension and epic environments delivered tow years earlier in their debut album, but a renewing twist toward a more thorough elaboration of nuances and atmospheres. Please, don't get me wrong, the band remains muscular and powerfully driven into the rockier aspect of experimental rock. Yet, you can tell that the level of sophistication in both the writing and arranging processes has reached a new height, in no small degree due to the addition of jazzy cadences and vibrations to the rhythmic foundation. The album kicks off with 'Architeuthis Dux', a very dynamic piece whose inherent punch is cleverly amalgamated over a challenging set of rhythmic variations. Mangs' sax interventions provide that eerie jazzy element that will prove crucial for many tracks in the album. 'Frozen Sea' is focused on melancholic moods, mostly based on grayish, somber (yet not creepy at all) organ layers whose chord progressions state a true reflection on introspection. Once the piece shifts to a more extroverted section, the jazzy factor becomes totally predominant in order to instill a colorful swing to the momentum. A brief reprise of the languid intro section provides a proper closure. 'Trylobites' is mostly ethereal, yet still providing a certain disturbance through the dissonant counterpoints that bring an obvious sense of controlled tension. 'Fata Morgana' enhances somehow the jazzy RIO strategy, with a melodic structure that alternates a warm motif on 6/8 (something like Yugen-meets-"Leg End" era HC) and a central motif that states an almost chaotic architecture of muscle and dissonance. Brilliant!! 'Frozen Sea' had reflected the kind of renewal the band has been prusuing for thsi album, while 'Fata Morgana' delivers a global statement about the old and the new OE. 'Unknown Pilot' is a very inspired exercise on avant-garde lyricism: as un-symphonic as this piece clearly is, it certainly echoes the evocative mood that is common even in 20th century chamber. I wouldn't have minded if this piece had been expanded beyond its 3'21" time span, but anyway, that's not a decision for me to make. A great, appealing composition it is, indeed. And so is Amanda Pazos-penned 'Forgotten Sirens', a muscular piece (somehow Present-inspired, yet typically OE at the end of the day) that eventually transits to ethereal atmospheres at the ending section. Once again, my minor complaint is that this delicious idea is not expanded beyond its actual time span (only 2 minutes for this impressive prog item?... mmmm.). 'Abyssal' brings back the reflective side of October Equus, wisely seasoned with elements of tension and darkness. Not unlike track 4, this piece is related to the sort of sound delivered in the debut album, but it also bears arrangements much in tune with the controlled density that prevails in "Charybdis" as a whole concept. 'Thera' follows in a similar vein, even enhancing the ethereal factor, which proves quite effective when the more intense passages settle in and create an interesting contrast. Ontalva's guitar phrases are featured in their magnificence among the complex instrumental framework. 'Niarsek' goes even deeper into the band's serene facet, with those dominant keyboard orchestrations that instill a ceremonious aura into the composition's overall contemplative vibe. The namesake track brings back the sort of ambiences that had already been present in tracks 1 & 4, dynamic RIO with a heavy jazzy twist and a clever use of dissonance and counterpoints in a challenging tempo. 'Helgoland' is the epilogue that brings the ultimate expression of melancholy in the album: the simplistic harmonic bases are handled with elegance, including a brief delicate piano interlude and an impressive guitar solo. that fades out too soon!! Despite my (minor) objections regarding some pieces' time span, I am far from considering the repertoire's whole situation as a failed one. On the contrary, "Charybdis" is a perfect example of successfully conceived avant-prog music in our current progressive scene. October Equuus has managed to stay loyal to the basic sound while taking it to another level of reinvigoration.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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