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Phideaux - Doomsday Afternoon CD (album) cover

DOOMSDAY AFTERNOON

Phideaux

 

Crossover Prog

4.25 | 677 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
5 stars A sprawling masterpiece of intense dreamscapes and symphonic ambience

The much heralded Phideaux eventually came to my ears, after reading a STACK of reviews that hails the albums as a masterpiece so I knew I would have to try for myself. First impression was a reaction of amazement as I was lulled into a dreamy state, with some of the most beautiful music I have heard. It was when I arrived at Crumble part 1 that I was convinced that this would be one of the best prog albums of recent years. Some of the lyrics were very strange and did not resonate with me at all, especially the bits that spout on about "satan has come again bringing some of his friends, he has won, his boys are having fun, satan's angels swarms to catch the tide." Though in context it fits the concept of environmentalism and doomsday and government brainwashng and experimentation. It is a very Pink Floyd like album in many respects and that is good enough for me. I was reminded of Porcupine Tree and Anathema among others, very pleasant listening with darker overtones and multiple instrumentation to virtuoso standard. The icing on the cake is the female vocals. On subsequent listens the music tended to take on a different atmosphere, it can be uplifting or even melancholy depending on how you approach the album with a specific frame of mind. I felt myself drawn into the music, it has a hypnotic effect that lures in the listener and drowns them in the atmospheric soundscapes. The whole thing about the 'deathstar' was a strange odditty for a Star Wars fan to listen to, but it was nonetheless enjoyable, nothing to do with Star Wars apart from the odd title.

The whole album deserves to be heard a few times before making up one's mind because it is jarringly infectious, the tunes began to haunt me and I was humming them as I walked about days after. The celtic influences are astounding with some pretty female vocals and sweeping synthesizer washes. The rhythms interchange between fast tempo and slow, a myriad of tension and release passages, including swathes of mellotron, Hammond, flute, violin, piano, acoustics, and clavichord such as on The Doctrine of Eternal Ice part 2. The multilayered vocals of female and male intertwine to create some ambient textures, that soar into the stratosphere majestic and epic, even bombastic but delightfully progressive.

Each track seems to blend into the next creating a conceptual whole that is in depth and very powerful. The ominous tones of Thank You For The Evil are stark and prevalent with a sense of impending doom. It crawls along but has some inspired acoustic flourishes, synth swirls and garish symphonic nuances. The synth sounds Pink Floydish, as do the lyrics, "back down in the safety net, by the television set, remember that you had a choice, opened up your mouth and had a voice, it's been gutting them, it's been gutting them, it's been gutting them." The instrumental break is appropriately downbeat. I really liked this lengthy compelling track and it has a mesmirising impact on the listener.

Formaldehyde is a masterpiece of prog on its own. Female vocals and some harmonised male vocals with a driving flute and meandering synth rhythm section. It twists and turns in many directions with an odd time signature and very sporadic drumming. Simply a wonderful track by any standards.

Microdeath Softstar ends the album on a glorious epic note. The bright organ truncates along until a chiming synth takes over. It builds to an epic orchestration, with the same uplifting melody. I liked the harmonised vocals here, and the soaring lead guitar break is joined by sweeping violins, Celtic in flavour and indisputably progressive. The female vocals are brightly coloured soprano variations. The multiple violins really get a chance to shine here as a dominant driving voice. The guitars are a bit heavier and the musicians take off into full flight in the mid section. There is a delightful time sig change towards the end, a verse "do not speak" and then swathes of guitar and synth trade offs as a violin fills in the gaps. The spacey guitar is sensational at this point. The lyrics are memorable, "I'd like to say it's over and we will be okay, and that you'll feel the same." The finale is psychedelic more than any other moment on the album, "once upon a time there was a line that we have drawn we wouldn't cross" and even better, "Fear leaves a trace of something stained, a wasteland of memory of how we failed, but all we need is time, all we need is time, but time's too damned unkind."

At the end of the album I realised what the fuss is all about and why this is hailed as one of the best prog albums of 2007. It simply is a stunning masterpiece, a magnum opus of melodic, powerful, structures, a myriad of emotional textures dark and light, layered with strong vocals and intensely complex orchestration, a work of love and passion where the artists known as Phideaux have poured their spirits into every moment, every instrumental, every vocal. Believe the hype.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 5/5 |

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