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Sfinx - Zalmoxe CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

4.12 | 76 ratings

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Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars A couple years ago, my good friend Szolt Enyedi (Keyboardist of YESTERDAYS), sent me a collection of his favourite Romanian albums,. and among this "Zalmoxe" with an special recommendation. So heard it and was fascinating, but in those days SFINX wasn't inckluded in Prog Archives, so wasn't able to review it.

The years passed and after adding TABULA SMARAGDINA from Hungary, "Zalmoxe" was mentioned in the thread, checked it and I forgot to write a review, so immediately took my CD, placed in the computer and decided to write a review that made some justice to this excellent album that defines the essence of what Eclectic Prog means.

"Zalmoxe" is opened with the breathtaking blend of Baroque and quasi Gregorian introduction of "Ursitoarele" (Fortune Tellers), but after some seconds this changes radically into a fluid Symphonic - Heavy Prog song with multiple changes and amazing guitar riffs. This guys don't save anything for the end, they give 110% from the start.

"Blana de Urs" (Bear's Fur) starts with a long introductory section that morphs into an organ driven passage that reminds me almost immediately of YES. In this case the drumming and bass are outstanding, complementing perfectly the creative work of Guitar, Keyboard and vocals, just delightful. But that's not all, the song morphs again into some sort of Classic Rock with strong keyboards that seems simple, but it's quite interesting.

"Mierea" (The Honey) reminds me of 1970's releases by Argentinean bands such as SERU GIRAM or SUI GENERIS, because of the way they make an elaborate song seem so simple and fluid,. almost as a soft ballad, but in this case with surprising fugues of keyboard. Beautiful and interesting.

It's sad to listen this great music and not be able to understand the lyrics (Don't know a word of Romanian), but he beauty and naive complexity of their music makes me care very little about this, and Pestera is a great example, when I listen the 2:00 minutes instrumental break with a sound that seems as a native wind instrument and lush keyboards, I forget about any linguistic problem and can only concentrate in the heartbreaking music.

"Epifania" (Epiphany) is another soft and gentle Ballad that seems to flow gently from start to end without surprises, but nothing so far from truth, when you less expect, a dramatic change or a lush keyboard impromptu makes the listener remember that we are before a Progressive Rock band and that we must expect the unexpected.

"Furtuna cu Trup de Balour" (Dragon Shaped Storm) marks a break point in the album, if the previous songs were soft, gentle and melodic, "Furtuna" is frenetic and even heavy, with one of the ,most unusual structures I heard. Even when this guys rock, they do it in an original way, special mention to the organs sections that give extra brilliance to an already excellent song.

"Călătorul Prin Nori" (Cloud Traveller) is a strange mix between ethnic sounds, electronic music and a bit of VANGELIS, but as the song advances the Folk component takes the first role with it's nostalgic and warm atmosphere, while "Corneliu Bibi Ionescu" in the bass and "Mihai Cernea" in the drums give a touch of mystery that seem to lead to an explosion of sounds that never comes, keeping the audience in suspense. Brilliant structure.

"Kogaion" with it's extraordinary vocal work between haunting Monastery choirs and QUEEN at it's best (For God's sake even "Dan Andrei Aldea" with his guitar sounds close to Brian May), the track is always in crescendo, until they reach a point in which suddenly stops, a great preparation for the grand finale.

"Epilog" (Epilogue) closes the album with another unusual combination of sounds, styles and moods, that go from vocal and fluid to dark and mysterious, a bit short maybe, but good closer.

The version I received has four more tracks, but those who know me are aware that I never review bonus tracks despite their quality, because in my opinion an album must be listened in the way the author originally released it.

"Zalmoxe" is another reason of why I'm so obsessed with Eastern Europe Prog, their versatility, the new sounds that come from their own native sounds and the dexterity of the musicians, make me love the music from this part of the world more and more.

Not a perfect masterpiece, but extremely close to this status, so any rating bellow 4 stars would be absolutely unfair.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |


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