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Aphrodite's Child - 666 CD (album) cover


Aphrodite's Child


Symphonic Prog

3.91 | 424 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Every once in a while, you get an album that is nothing like anything you've ever heard before or since. 666 is one of those albums. For those who have not heard of Aphrodite's Child, they were a short lived Greek group, who's previous output had been a mixture of pop and psychedelia. Amongst their ranks was none other than the keyboard virtuoso Vangelis. Whilst there is nothing to shout about in their previous two records, this album showed a completely different side to the group.

The album itself is a double LP concept album of the Book of Revelation from the Bible, but you don't have to be Christian to enjoy the stories. The music varies a great deal, from rock to greek folk to experimental at times.

Side 1 opens with The System, a short track of a crowd of people chanting We got the System to fuck the System!. This leads us quickly into Babylon, a guitar-based pop tune. The lyrics are interesting and the melody is just fantastic. I particularly like the guitar solo before the end of the track.

Loud, Loud, Loud is a monologue read over a simple piano riff. The reader, who sounds like an annoying boy scout, hasn't really got a voice suited to this track, and it feels like filler. The next track, The Four Horsemen, is the most well known from the album, and for good reason. This song is the closest to 'straight prog' that the album gets, with a jaw-droppingly awesome guitar solo that lasts for the last 3 minutes of the song. The beginning of the song is very simple, with two verses and two choruses. The lyrics themselves are very factual, doing nothing more than describing the Four Horsemen, but Demis Roussos sings them with so much emotion.

The Lamb is a bizarre fusion of Greek folk music and rock. The first 2 minutes, I don't particularly enjoy, largely because of the inclusion of some wailing singers that pop up intermittently. While there are some interesting themes, the melody doesn't do anything for me. The second half of the song is very interesting though, with some cool instrumental ideas being tested. The first side is concluded with another monologue song, The Seventh Seal, no doubt quoted directly from the Bible. Fortunately, the boy scout has left, and we are narrated by a much more competent reader. The final words of the song ...silence covered the sky. feel like they should be followed by a heavy riff, but as the final words of Side 1 they work quite well.

Instead of that heavy riff, Side 2 begins with the relaxing Aegian Sea. This is a very laid back instrumental, that has some great themes in it. Halfway through, some of the quotes from 'The Seventh Seal' are repeated. Afterwards, the extremely factual Seven Bowls tells us where the seven bowls went along with some other biblical information, over very haunting experimental background music.

The next two tracks, The Wakening Beast and Lament are entirely instrumental and extremely quiet. 'Lament' sports some very atmospheric chanting, but most of you will be thinking 'I could be listening to Roundabout right now!' The quietness is interrupted by the extremely loud The Marching Beast. I quite like the brief darts of flute at 0:27 which remind you of Jethro Tull.

After the strange nature of 'The Marching Beast' we arrive at the highlight of the second side, The Battle of the Locusts, which is essentially a rock guitar solo. Just as your getting into the song, the narrator shouts Do It and the band double the tempo and continue. The guitar soloing, along with the random screams of the words 'Do It' make for very fun listening.

The definition of tribulation is 'a cause of distress'. In this case Tribulation certainly lives up to its title, being a mercifully brief atonal interlude of brass instruments. The Beast on the other hand, is very enjoyable, being rather poppy in nature. The singer reminds me of David Bowie. 'The Beast' has a humourous mood which contrasts to the rest of the album. The fifteen-second closer, Ofis, is another monologue spoken in Greek. It is, quite literally, all Greek to me.

We switch back to English before starting the third side, with a great introduction Seven Trumpets. Altamont is quite repetitive, a bit annoying in places, but still quite listenable. I quite like the narration read towards the end of the track. Some of the Bible does sound extremely cool, when read in this way.

The band have another shot at playing folk music in The Wedding Of The Lamb but nothing really stands out in this track. Before the end of the track, the narrator quips 'That was the wedding of the lamb.' and one half expects to hear a Python-esque 'And now for something completely different.' Instead, he says 'Now comes The Capture Of The Beast.' This brief piece is very percussive in nature, and is a very atmospheric prelude to the most controversial song on the album.

If you had started to get bored at this point, then you'll be glad to hear that is far from boring. The song features Greek actress Irene Papas, giving one of the most emotive vocal performances put on record. She says nothing more than 'I was, I am, I am to come' (hence infinity) but she manages to portray confidence, despair, anger and mental deterioration all in 5 minutes. Especially creepy is part where she begins hyperventilating, which in fact quickens your own heart rate! An incredible performance!

Hic And Nunc is yet another pop song, and follows in the style of the last two, being very upbeat and enjoyable, although I do prefer 'The Beast'. The song concludes the third side on a light note.

Until now, all of the tracks have been short, with the majority not lasting longer than 3 minutes. In true prog fashion, we are now treated to a 19 minute instrumental, All The Seats Were Occupied. DO NOT expect this to be the best on the album, or for this to become your favourite new epic track. The instrumental is another blend of folk and rock, which evolves over time, themes changing entirely. Some bits are better than others, with some cool time signatures and guitar effects and great drumming. Throughout the song, some clips from the rest of the album are played to remind you of the story, although these sometimes detract from the song itself. However the highlight of the song has to be the mildly comical insertion of the title at 18:24, which comes out of nowhere and leads into the crashing finale. The song is a good listen, but there are better ways you could spend your time.

The final song seems completely unrelated to the rest of the album. Break is a pop single that I enjoy very much. With it's simple lyrics and fantastic guitar solo, I am glad they left it in though, and it provides a beautiful ending to this strange, strange album. I also like that the words 'DO IT' are repeated once more before finishing altogether.

When I first heard this album, I listened to it over and over. However, I soon forgot about it, and I didn't listen to it for a while afterwards. Unlike most prog albums, it is quite easy to dip into, as the tracks are mainly very short. You should definitely check this album out, and see why it's garnered it's cult status, but don't expect to love, love, love it when you buy it.

baz91 | 4/5 |


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