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Skeem - Skeem CD (album) cover





3.79 | 66 ratings

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3 stars A real pitty, this could have been a 4.5 star Neo album and it fails for just one reason.

This short-lived french band plays a top-level archetypal Neo-Prog, very similar to Jadis to the point that I am tempted to say that it's a Jadis clone, not the least because Serge Barbaro guitar sounds nearly identical to Gary Chandler's and his voice is also similar, but there are also hints of IQ, Saga and other typical Neo sounds. In any case this album is in most respects every bit as good as any by the big names in the british or american Neo scene. The band sounds tight, the playing is competent, the production is very good and the composition is for the most part excellent. For the most part.

The album starts very well with "Good To One Another" which sounds very much like Jadis with a bit of Saga and "The Last Word" which has a riff more similar to the old Arena.

So far so good, but as from the third track things start to shift. "Trustworthy Man" starts again very well with a great powerful instrumental introduction, the vocal verse section is also good, but then the chorus section is pure mainstream AOR, dangerously close to something which could have been done by the Scorpions. My god what are they doing? This is too bad because then we have an excellent long instrumental middle section, but unfortunately we get again the awful chorus for ending.

As from here this becomes a recurring pattern in nearly every other song: great introduction, poppy but reasonably good verse section but then the chorus is too mainstream. We get some very good instrumental middle section and return to the verse and mainstream chorus. Only "Chysalides" escapes a bit from this description, a mid-tempo song which remains Jadis-like all the way.

So there you have it, it's only those excessively mainstream chorus sections which put me off about this album. A real shame because we have also really great sections, such as the long instrumental interplay at the end of "Live Fast". All the instrumental parts are great in fact. Sure, Jadis themselves and other Neo bands make also very melodic music and get sometimes close to mainstream, but Skeem go just that bit too far, even if only in the chorus phrases.

As I said before, the voice of Serge Barbaro is similar to Gary Chandler but better, more powerful and with more tonal range. His english pronunciation is also more than good enough. It's a very good lead voice, but it's not prog-sounding, this guy could have perfectly sung in bands like Spandau Ballet or stuff like that. Which of course makes these mainstream chorusses sound even more mainstream. Same with the double female backing vocals, they are a double-edged sword: they can give the music a nice depth, but in the mainstream sections they just make them sound even more mainstream.

There's a lot of good stuff in here and it's definitely worth the buy, it's just a pitty that for such little margin it fails to be the great album it could have been.

4 stars for Neo fans, 3 stars within Prog as a whole.

Gerinski | 3/5 |


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