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Halloween - Merlin CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.32 | 34 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars I will first sumarize the album. Henceforth, my task is to describe and point out some observations on each track.

The beginning of this work brings part of that dark atmosphere of the previous albums, with the difference that this time there is more variety of tones and sounds taken from the instruments. The vocals also improved a lot in terms of interpretation. This defines most of the first two tracks. On the remaining songs, the proposals change radically, with orchestral performances, enhanced and made possible by the string and wind quartets (without flute); some acoustic and brief stuff is performed; and guitars plus violin are very prominent. Sang in french.

On track one, the atmosphere is somber, developed as a march with the percussion, violin and keyboards. Tones are deep, but include some interventions from the wind instruments. When male vocals show on, musicality gets more dynamic. An acid guitar and a severe pace on drums grow until its apex, when harmony and rhythym changes significantly. To get there, the keyboards make na interlude imitating a church organ. After that a distorted guitar repeats a strong low note, with subtle variations, supported by synths.

Second track presents passionate vocal harmonies, almost always male. Violin is sometimes sharp, on other passages goes lyrical, and on others it gets enigmatic ' a fabulous and diversificated exhibition. These skills and others by the violinist are repeated on other tracks. Back to the description of this track, it has also more variations from the guitar, going from low grades to powerful sounds. Female vocalist le Cocq ends this composition, making me want more of that dense interpretation.

Next track initiates soft and orchestral, with exceptional dialogue between cello and synth. Foreward there are some rich harmonies on synths. The apotheotic entry of the guitar, with long phrasings, is one of the high points of this album, and is displayed on other parts of the disc. An interlude on synths gives the guitar some breath, just to regain its powerful energy. This kind of music makes me really travel to the disc's history, and I find myself inside a forest fog, because the end of this track is a smooth and absorbing mood on synths.

A cheerful and almost romantic execution opens fourth track with a string quartet and trumpet. This does not last, and a medieval song, slightly celtic, takes place, with lute, tambourine and violin. Guitar gets along, gentle and almost quiet. When the medieval instruments exit, guitar, bass (which is a little funky) and drums improve good constructions, with some little contributions from the flute.

I wouldn't expect anything else than a pompous execution from a track called Table Ronde (Round Table). Many instruments are used ' violin, string quartet, trumpet, trombone, horn, synths, drums. This track ends a prolonged snippet totally instrumental that began on 3rd track.

Track six is one of the songs where the glorious and enlarged proficiency of le Cocq most appears. The title, 'Morgane', fits very well. The temper is dark, few instruments play in low volume. Violin delivers some few acute but exciting notes. On the end of this song a second voice sings (is it from le Cocq, made with overdub?), making a delicate and intricate harmony. When you think the song practically finished, le Cocq brings up a kind of mischiveous, gleeful laugh. Very theatrical. Ahead is a short snippet from the lyrics (with the help of google translator).

'Why give sense to what doesn't have? / We live, we die / Suddenly the night, the cold / Time flies

Your gods won't help me.

My tiny existence isn't more important than my death.'

A grand opening on next track, with longer notes on violin and synths, alternate with more cadenced moments. Harmonies are versatile, very rich on the slow moments and on the more faster playing. Violin makes outstanding interplays with the synths and guitar. All these instruments go solo and also percussive. The combination of male and female vocals is very consistent and fluid.

'Viviane' is a 2'11 piece, solely on acoustic guitar. Simple. Not very attractive.

The dramatic entrance of 'Dragon Rouge, Dragon Blanc' (Red Dragon, White Dragon) is a promise of another pompous track, but what they really perform brings complex rhythms, full of alternations, that don't follow the orchestral proposition of most of the tracks. Xylophone is prominent, together with drums, violin and some participations from synths. The lack of clearer harmonic constructions prevails in the first half of this track. On the second half structures are more organized, nonetheless the drummer makes a poor work, and this time violin's solos aren't so inspired.

On the other hand, 'Derniere Bataille' (Last Battle) is pompous and superb. IMO, the best track. Once again taking advantage of many instruments. Begins with the wind quartet. The synth makes a magnificent duet with the horn. Guitar enters high, tight and crystal clear, staying in the foreground. It's backed up by an immersive harmony on synths and drums. A rythmic section on the strings keeps growing as an interlude to the guitar. This composition doesn't get repetitive in no ways, because of precise transitions between the powerful parts.

Synth is the main instrument of 11th track. I didn't like the choose of its timbres on the first two minutes. The rest of the song doesn't mantain the high level instrumentation present on other parts of the album; one of the reasons is the drums, now going quite repetitive and dull. Vocal harmonies are magnificent. When the guitar finds some space, it makes great contributions.

Last track starts with a tenebrous mood. Soon the violin, string and wind quartets, along with the synth, takes off that direction and the whole thing is confusing until it reaches 2 minutes - half of this music. Fortunately the second half recovers the brilliance of this release, with a varied and energetic orchestral presentation.

4.2 stars for instrumentation, 4.1 for male vocals, and 4.7 for female vocals.

arymenezes | 4/5 |


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