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Phideaux - Chupacabras CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.88 | 277 ratings

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Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars It's difficult for me not to reflect over the irony of this album. It was created out of pieces left out of previous releases because they wouldn't fit in, in fear for them to overshadow the rest of the album. Chupacabras is basically two long suites with a few interspersed songs, and the twenty-one minutes of the title track still manages to completely dominate the album. In all honesty, I listen to Chupacabras mostly for - Chupacabras.

After the gorgeous half-symphonic, half-space 'intro' (Okay) with lush keys, restrained and echoing guitar, spooky deep choir effects and somewhat sad female vocals, Phideaux and cohort already have me wrapped around their little finger with that atmospheric tractor beam. And then it unfolds, one of the greatest journeys of modern prog, a musical piece that just resonates with me, an instant click. And to further indulge in clichés; just chemistry.

The beginnings are quite humble: a pounding bass drum, some simple piano, some swirly effects and an understated guitar. Bass guitar joins in.and off we go. A wonderful release of pressure that never really looses momentum after that. There are outbursts of guitar, both electric and acoustic, powerful hooks, sensational duels between male and female vocals, an amazing middle section with pseudo-country guitar that surprises by growing into a manifestation of raw emotion coupled with the sounds of flute, strings and a distant bagpipe. Everything oozes emotion, everything oozes fresh, new, inspired! I love the vocal delivery: vulnerable, yet powerful and extremely honest. There are some wonderful vocal arrangements to be found on Chupacabras. Perhaps the perfect realisation of how to mix the old with the new, fusing more accessible alt rock tendencies with symphonic and space/psych prog, and by stretching it a little - even touches of folk. It's a unique experience, putting this composition alongside other hard-to-define artists such as Mike Oldfield.

Recovering after this experience requires some time, and I've actually listened to the other tracks separately just to give them some sort of justice.

Party is a nice, sinister and quite dark effort, with less emphasis on the symphonic aspects and a defining character in that it makes you feel rather uneasy. Sometimes hypnotic vocals, the song relies on lyrics more than musical power, but the subdued textural guitars and the cold electronic keys are actually quite pleasing.

After the (more or less) extended guitar 'solo' that is Fortress of Sand, the second suite of the album begins. Going by the name Ruffian On The Stairs, it's actually three separate songs flowing into each other. Brutal, uncompromising hardcore guitar clashes with everything else heard so far, and the rest of the song have a flair of metal to it altogether, from the vocal delivery to the general mood. Effective, yes, but a little blunt in comparison to what's going on otherwise. The vague nu-metal vibes I get from Sunburnt is not particularly pleasing either, but it manages to develop into a rolling piano ending of just the sort I love. Revisiting familiar sounds on Return of the Ruffian, Titan then closes the album on a mellow and reflecting note, once again carried by vocals and guitars.

There's really not much to say. There's an absolute masterpiece, over twenty minutes long, and most of the other material pleases me enough to make the rating.

.a solid 4 stars, and please treat yourself with the title track!


LinusW | 4/5 |


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