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Phideaux - Doomsday Afternoon CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.22 | 904 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars One of the best albums of the past decade?

That's not an accolade that one throws around lightly. But this 2007 release by Phideaux competes with a small number of modern progressive rock albums as being not only highly acclaimed, but actually as good as everybody says it is.

The album follows the tradition of Symphonic bands, but with Phideaux, we do not hear a band that is trying to sound like they are from 30 years ago. We find a band who is using lessons learned by those same bands, and integrating it into their own sound to create a sound that is both familiar while being completely unique.

Sometimes, while listening to modern Symphonic-flavoured prog, I get lost in the long instrumental passages that can occasionally feel like they were added just to help a song reach a prog-worthy track time. While this album has several songs that come close to or even surpass the the ten minute track length, every note has a meaning. And the longer songs do not sit still; they move between various melodies, each of which is strong and memorable. The band, on their Myspace, say, "Syncopation and tricky time signatures are sometimes utilized but always there is melody to be hummed and riffs to invade your ears and mind." This is completely true.

The album is a concept album, and concept is a weighty one, dealing with a sort of big- brotherly world. Religion ("the convent is waiting it's time to go in, gather the faithful let vespers begin") and scientific experimentation ("up around the riverbend, the specialists changed you") are used to make this government-brainwashing that much more frightening in this torn-apart world ("do not speak of ice retreat and islands eaten by the sea, industry economy, we've only just begun").

A concept is just a concept without an emotional connection and the feeling that the entire album carries the concept. Phideaux have managed to connect quite deftly with the listener in this release. For one, there are many singers in this album, and the vocals always fit what they are trying to convey perfectly, be it horror, anger, or sorrow. Crumble in particular is a haunting track; there are two versions of it on the album, one that is just instrumental, and one with just piano and vocals. This stripped down little piece has some of the most beautiful, sad, wistful vocals I've heard and it almost brings me to tears. This is also the one prog song I have shown to friends and family that has been universally loved.

If I were to rate Foxtrot, I would give it five stars, almost exclusively for Supper's Ready. There's one thing about Supper's Ready that I've always thought was genius and that made it from an excellent epic to one of the most iconic prog rock tracks I've heard, and that's the reprise of the "Lovers Leap" theme at the end of it. Phideaux learned from this, and there are allusions to future sections throughout this album (the aforementioned two versions of crumble, the instrumental "Doctrine of Eternal Ice Part 1" before "Doctrine of Eternal Ice Part 2", various themes re-used), and each time, the band does not merely repeat what they have done before, but take it in a new direction.

There are also themes that appear in multiple songs. For example, both the opening track and The Doctrine of Eternal Ice make a reference to "Climbing up the fire escape" or "Running down the fire escape". The phrase, "Up around the Riverbend, I was separated from you" is used multiple times throughout the album, and changes to "The specialists changed you" in Formaldehyde. The "Do not speak, do not speak" used to such great effect in the version of crumble is used again in Microdeath Softstar, but here, instead of being sung in sad vocals by a female singer, it is sung by Phideaux in a completely different tone. These re-uses of previous themes, yet modifying them to still be new, really gives the album a coherent feel while at the same time expressing changes in the story quite elegantly.

If I had to describe the sound of the album, I would say, "The way music would sound if I wrote it." There are many vocalists, often layering their vocals together, both male and female and all of great skill. Piano and cello are used to give the music unique texture. The melodies are always catchy but the band also pulls off several great atmospheric moments (think the beginning of "Thank You For The Evil"). The drumming is always excellent and the guitar playing has plenty of feel to it. There is a dark, gothic vibe to the music that is very good.

I usually wait until I've listened to an album over 20 times before I give it a five star rating, so I know that not only is the music amazing, but it also stays amazing after many listens. I'm not quite there yet (about three listens away), but in this case I'm fairly certain that the music will not diminish. So, I give this album a not-so-tentative 5 stars.

TheGazzardian | 5/5 |


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