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Aching Beauty - L' Ultima Ora CD (album) cover

L' ULTIMA ORA

Aching Beauty

 

Progressive Metal

3.66 | 7 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'L'Ultima Ora' - Aching Beauty (8/10)

Hailing from France a few years back, progressive metal act Aching Beauty disappeared almost as soon as they entered the stage. The brevity of their careers robbing them of any real recognition, their short span did leave the world with a great album. 'L'Ultima Ora' delivers a good hour of classic-style progressive metal with beautiful melodic touches all around.

Aching Beauty will be sure to appeal to those that appreciate the technical complexity and instrumental sound of Dream Theater, particularly their first two releases. The vocals however, are much different, and while DT comparisons could be made to this band all day long, the vocal work on 'L'Ultima Ora' gives the music a very classical, European sound to it. Think along the lines of Il Divo or something pop-classical, and transpose the style of the voice onto a progressive metal backdrop.

The melodic sensibility here is of particular note. Crafted here are hooks and memorable, emotive lines of beauty amidst the metal. On that note, Aching Beauty are careful not to overdo things; things never get too heavy, or too one-tracked. There's plenty of variety here.

The album opens with a beautiful acoustic passage before erupting into the first rocker 'Steps.' The first three tracks (while not even being ten minutes altogether) form the first song suite of the album. The band doesn't go anywhere near acheiving their potential in any manner with the next two songs (the third track; 'Endlessly' sounds like a syrupy Josh Groban ballad) but by the time the funky opening bass line of 'Pairsonality' rolls around, its clear that the album is finally getting really, really good. 'Pairsonality' was the first track in the album that really stood out to me, and while its not the total highlight of the album, it would have worked very well as a 'single,' had the band ever gotten so far.

After two good, but ultimately forgettable tracks, 'L'Ultima Ora' finally shines its brightest with the title suite. Composed of the final four tracks, it opens up with a powerful, moving riff of counterpointing keyboards and gutiars before going into the rest of 'Shatter The Shelter,' the darkest, heaviest offering the album has. The middle two parts ('Lost' and 'Aching Awakening') in the suite give the listener an absolutely gorgeous, sometimes heavy instrumental section with a perfect, beautiful guitar solo.

If I could ever ask for a perfectly epic end to an album, the last fleeting moments of 'Masked Life' would be it. The vocals shine here louder then ever, synths are blasting, and many choral counterpoints make for a spectacular end to a great album. As the last triumphant chords erupt, a soft piano outro reprises the finale... Beautiful.

Aching Beauty proves with one album they are talented and creative musicians, although the sound is far too much akin to Dream Theater to really call it 'essential.' However, if only the song 'Aching Awakening' had been applied to their careers, perhaps France would have produced the next great band in prog metal. We'll never know!

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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