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Apocalypse - Refúgio CD (album) cover

REFÚGIO

Apocalypse

 

Symphonic Prog

3.50 | 16 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Fitzcarraldo
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I bought this album on impulse after finding it in the Progressive Rock section of a very small music shop. Apart from its classification, the surreal cover art and list of track titles in Portuguese intrigued me. I have to say I'm glad I bought it.

APOCALYPSE is a Brazilian neo-Prog band very much in the Progressive Rock vein, producing music that reminds one a little of MARILLION and KANSAS, with maybe just a slight hint of YES at times, and with the Brazilian penchant for melody very evident. Eloy Fritsch is clearly a very talented keyboard player; his playing sounds at times like KEITH EMERSON and at other times a little like RICK WAKEMAN. In my opinion the keyboards on this album are excellent, but do not overwhelm the music. The guitar playing of Eloy's brother Ruy is good too, with some soaring guitar parts. Much of Chico Casara's singing is fine, but he does not have a particularly strong voice and sometimes has to strain, and occasionally he also has trouble hitting a note. He's not a bad bass player though. The rest of the band sometimes struggle a bit on the backing vocals too. I read a review of this album on another Web site suggesting that languages such as Portuguese and other Latin-based languages are not as suitable/pleasant as English for the vocals in Prog Rock, and that the songs on this album would possibly have been better in English. I have to disagree; I think Prog Rock in Portuguese (or Italian, or Spanish etc.) sounds fine and I'm glad (most) bands from non-English speaking countries sing in their native tongue. However I did wonder whether the reviewer was confusing the language with Chico Casara's singing limitations. Several reviews of this album on other Web sites have also suggested that Eloy Fritsch is the principal (only?) talent in the group. I also have to disagree with that idea; the band play well together and I enjoy the end product.

The recording sounds a little echoey to me and is not quite as crystal clear as some other albums I've listened to recently. The sound quality of the two bonus tracks, recorded live at ProgDay 99, North Carolina, is not so much different from the studio tracks, and the band's playing sounds as good on stage as in the studio. I'm no expert in recording, but all this makes me wonder whether the band put the studio songs down live in the studio. The band did not use guest musicians and so can reproduce faithfully on stage what they do in the studio, which is impressive. By the way, the band went down well at ProgDay 99, getting a standing ovation. The guitar at the beginning of the first ProgDay 99 track, 'Último Horizonte', even reminded me of VAN HALEN.

The lyrics are generally good, some parts very poetic, although in one or two tracks there is a bit too much repetition of a key phrase in my opinion, but this is a minor criticism.

The keyboard and bass riff that starts off the first and title track 'Refúgio' (refuge) is very catchy. You can listen to the MP3 of this track on the band's Web site - the track is called 'Refúgio Dos Inocentes' (refuge of the innocents) on their Web site, which must have been the working title because, as I write this, the site has not been updated since before the album was released. I like the track very much and it is a good indication of the style of the rest of the album. The track that follows it on the album, 'Cachoeira das Águas Douradas', is excellent and the lyrics are very poetic but unfortunately in places it is a bit of a challenge vocally for Chico Casara. 'América do Sul' is a lovely, melodic track; the fast drumming rhythm at the start of the track giving way to a beautiful eulogy to an amazing continent. The second live track, 'Terra Azul', has good lyrics and, like 'América do Sul', is a lovely, melodic track. 'III Milęnio' is a great track - the synth is superb and reminds me of ISAO TOMITA's playing on "Snowflakes Are Dancing". Actually, there is not a track on the album that I don't like, although 'ProgJazz' is a cotton candy track and a bit corny, but even that has some good guitar and a short burst of satisfying, fat synth.

Given my slight quibbles with the vocals and the recording quality, I would be inclined to award the album 3.5 stars if such a thing were possible. As it isn't, and as the album has been playing a lot in my house of late, I'm rounding it up to 4 stars (Excellent addition to any prog rock collection); despite the flaws I've mentioned I have to say I really enjoy the album and it pleases me more than some of the cerebral stuff I've listened to recently. It does not have classical undertones (well, apart from the short instrumental 'Toccata' which, by the way, is also good and showcases Eloy Fritsch's keyboard skills), is not novel or avant-garde, but it has catchy tunes and melodies, some excellent keyboards, good guitar and is very Prog Rock in style. The French prog record company Musea thought APOCALYPSE were worth signing, so give it a try if you are adventurous as this album is available outside its native Brazil.

Fitzcarraldo | 4/5 |

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