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Phideaux - Chupacabras CD (album) cover

CHUPACABRAS

Phideaux

 

Crossover Prog

3.89 | 216 ratings

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Roland113
Prog Reviewer
3 stars In My Not So Humble Opinion:

"Chupacabras" by Phideaux shows signs of the brilliance that is to come.

So I reentered the prog scene in mid two thousand seven and ended up getting a lot of music during that first half of a year. I kept hearing about how good "Doomsday Afternoon" was, but hadn't quite gotten around to Phideaux as of yet. At the same time, I happened to catch the Sea Lab 2021 episode "Isla de Chupacabra" and let me tell you, it was friggin hysterical. The Chupacabra became my for a year. At one point, I did a search in iTunes on Chupacabras and lo and behold, there was this Phideaux guy that I'd been meaning to get into. It was fate. I immediately bought it from iTunes and the rest as they say, is blood goat sucking history.

The production on this album is fantastic, every instrument is well balanced. Phideaux and company did a great job of mixing this album. Furthermore, I love Phideaux' voice; his vocals are usually mixed with only a little reverb allowing his voice to ring, crystal clear, above the band.

"Okay" is a two minute intro piece that sets the appropriate mood for "Chupacabras"; my impression is that it's a moment for the listener to clear their mind, finish up any stray thoughts and concentrate on the matter at hand, mainly "Chupacabras" (the song).

"Chupacabras" is a twenty minute romp through the life of a mythical creature found in the southwestern portion of the United States known for it's fondness of sucking out the blood of goats. After a moment of eerie atmospheric soundscape, the band comes in with an upbeat rolling rhythm and eventually Phideaux' surprisingly upbeat vocals. Not what I was expecting at first, though it's sung from the viewpoint of the chupacabra itself; if you think about it, it makes sense. The chupacabra doesn't care that he's feared. He's just a predator beginning a night of hunting. The upbeat section continues on for a few moments through "Supper's Calling" and slows down for "The Shepherdess" section.

The next section exemplifies my biggest issue with this album; at times the lyrics lack the sophistication of Phideaux' later works. The beginning lyrics of "A Brief History of Truth and Beauty" are as follows:

"I will live again, Up from the air of my succulent lair I will rise anew, Into the wind I will move my wings I will feed again, Drain to the depths with my clean teeth and breath"

Umm, "My succulent lair"? ok, I checked the Webster online dictionary, cause I didn't know what he meant here. Succulent ? a) full of juice? b) moist and tasty? c) having fleshy tissues that conserve juice? d) rich in interest? I'll be honest, I'm really not certain how his lair could be succulent, ok, maybe it could be full of interest, but that's kind of a stretch. Even so, this is followed up with the beastie using its clean breath to drain it's prey? Lyrically, this is weak.

On the other hand, the "Get my Goat" part is absolutely brilliant. The beginning goat sound effects add just a bit of amusement before the slide guitar comes in and . . . oh my goodness, this has inspired a new found love of slide guitar. The guitar continues on and gradually has more and more pieces added; Mellotron, flutes, cello, pipes; absolutely stunning piece of music. From there, the piece finishes out with a reference back to the first section, another bit of Phideaux' singing brought to center stage and finally a big ending. Despite the lyrical snafu in the middle, this is a fantastic piece and worth the price of admission.

Unfortunately, the CD has now peaked and goes downhill from here. "Party" is a fairly down tempo gothic sounding tune about vampires as best as I can tell. I'm not certain who's singing at this point, but the "it's not nice to leave before the party is over" line is so over the top in both drama and effects that it really makes me shake my head in bewilderment. The rest of the song reminds me of a mid eighties tune by either "Depeche Mode" or "New Order", it's kind of cool and retroesque, though not what I would have hoped for after the magnificent title track. The highlight of "Party" is the vocal interplay at the very end.

"Fortress of Sand" is a nice piece, very minimalist and atmospheric, probably the second best song on the CD.

"Ruffian on the Stairs" is the first part of the 'Ruffian' epic and not my favorite piece of work. It starts with kind of a punk feel and goes back to the goth feel, with Phideaux sounding like he's purposely singing flat for the effect. "Sunburnt" is kind of enjoyable, there are some nice piano licks towards the end, which leads right into "Return of the Ruffian". I think about half of the song is occupied by the underwhelming lyrics "Ruff Ruff Ruff Ruffian on the stairs, F*** with me don't F*** with me," repeated entirely too much. For me this is the biggest example of the sub-par lyrics on this CD. I can appreciate the F bomb when it's making an emphatic point, but as a call and answer it seems juvenile.

"Titan" is pretty and also one of the better songs on the CD. It's a tender ballad with a neo-prog sounding buildup, crescendoing towards the end with a full fledged wall of sound before the final soulful lyrics by Phideaux.

All in all, the lyrics and the occasional goth sound complete with detuned lyrics detracts from the overall palatability of the CD, though the title track makes up for a lot of negatives evening this CD out at a solid three stars.

Roland113 | 3/5 |

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