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Guy LeBlanc - Subversia CD (album) cover


Guy LeBlanc


Crossover Prog

3.48 | 14 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Guy LeBlanc is a Canadian keyboardist well known from his "Nathan Mahl" band and short but prolific appearance in Camel's lineup. However most of people never heard that he also recorded 2 solo albums: "Subversia" and "All the Rage". If you want to find different side of LeBlanc you can proceed to his second album which is very diverse and among prog tracks includes many pop/rock and heavy metal (sometimes in French language) songs. But if you love his work in "Nathan Mahl" you ought to check this great album first. While "All The Rage" is very personal album where Guy plays all instruments, on his debut disk he is supported by group of skilled musicians:

Scott McGill: electric and acoustic guitar Mark Spénard: guitar José Bergeron: guitar Paul Desgangé: saxophone

Yes, we already know Mark Spénard & José Bergeron from "Nathan Mahl" recordings so it's not a big surprise that this album can be almost considered as another production of this fantastic band due to obvious musical & personal similarities. Vocals are as usual handled by LeBlanc himself so they are only so-so, but his keyboards, drums and synth-bass skills are so fantastic and overwhelming that we can forget about these few singin' moments very fast.

All songs from "Subversia" are constructed into concept album about some people who leave some horrible, totalitarian country and sail on a boat to some dreamland but most of the compositions are instrumental so this concept isn't so important here in fact.

Let's check these tracks (please take note that in my version of the album songs are placed in different order than Progarchives website suggests):

1. "The First Lie" - album begins with one of the best songs here. Just like Nathan Mahl's material it's a great mix of symphonic prog-rock and jazz-rock. While Guy's organ runs sound definitely symphonic here, rhythm section resembles jazz-rock style. Lots of delightful Hammond, Korg synthesizer and guitar solos, and we can't forget about vocal parts which are (surprisingly!) very convincing and full of emotions. Fantastic beginning!

2. "Joyride" - second track is fully instrumental. It's much more jazz/funk oriented with this uplifting percussion beats and groovy, but sometimes messy electric piano (and later Korg synthesizer) & saxophone duels. Thankfully LeBlanc plays also some very entertaining Hammond organ solos which always sound refreshing to me.

3. "A Question Of Authority" - another instrumental is a bit more laid-back and relaxing but as usual mixes jazz & rock with fashion and style only known to Guy LeBlanc. We can witness tons of guitar, Hammond, synth & sax interludes here. Decent instrumental jam based on slightly steady but never boring rhythm section.

4. "The Cold Truth" - the only stinker on this album really hurts badly. It's just a 4 minute collage of some random percussion, bass & synth noises. It's exactly the moment where prog-rock crosses some border and becomes "avantgarde" pseudo-art. It's not a music, it's a pain-in-the-ass which we don't have to endure. Please skip.

5. "The Trial" - after 3 instrumentals Guy LeBlanc sings again in "The Trial". Surprisingly it's a...hard rock song driven by pretty wild guitar riffs. Sounds rather generic but it's still some kind of relief after complete misstep of previous "composition". BTW organ solo in the middle brings Jon Lord to my mind. And it's a good thing of course!

6. "Subversia" - here comes the epic with really "epic" proportions - almost 30 minutes of endless instrumental show offs! If you like such suites like "Heretik Part I", "Entrance Of The Judges / Malleus Maleficarum" and "The Sentence - De Mortuis Nif Nisi Bonum" which were recorded later by "Nathan Mahl", "Subversia" composition is their prototype so you'll surely love it too. But maybe you're one of these people who will call it self-indulgent & tiresome, anyway I call it mind-blowing and splendid. The suite begins with vocal section which sounds quite good taking in consideration that Guy doesn't have spectacular voice. Really melodic and catchy (don't worry, "prog catchy" not "pop catchy";-). Around 4th minute guys starts to play fantastic soling and until 16th minute we can witness how skillful LeBlanc and supportive musicians are. It's a masterful organ, electric/acoustic pianos, various kinds of synthesizers and electric guitar work in the tradition of best 70s symphonic prog acts. I also enjoy this laid-back section with Pink Floyd-like synthesizer landscapes followed by classical-inspired piano lines. Around 16th minute we have another vocal section but soon after everybody comes back to further soloing which continues until the end of the suite. Along with "ELP"-like and "Colosseum"-like moments, you will also hear fantastic Spanish guitar lines! Truly magnificent epic.

7. "Home" - album ends with more accessible song based upon church organ floods, sparkling piano & omnipresent rockin' guitar licks. Not very progressive but decent song with uplifting lyrics and heavenly electric guitar soloing.

"Subversia" is a really fine debut solo album of Guy LeBlanc which will surely please all fans of his mother band "Nathan Mahl". However we can find some minor flaws like sheer horror of avantgarde crap in "The Cold Truth" or not very interesting hard rock of "The Trial", this is still splendid record full of exciting prog-rock tracks album with classic "ELP" or "Yes" influences and modern symphonic prog hints in the vain of "Glass Hammer", mixed with huge dozen of jamming jazz-rock. Highly recommended for 70s style keyboards-led rock aficionados!

Really worth 4 stars.

ozzy_tom | 4/5 |


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