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Demians - Building an Empire CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.69 | 168 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars An incredible sonic masterpiece of unique fashion and one-of-a-kind quality.

There seems to be two types of reviews on this site; one that praises the "alternative" style of singing that multi-talented Frenchman Nicholas Chapel performs with, creating a sort of accessibility to radio listeners who are usually unfamiliar to prog. Of course, there is the other who finds that obnoxious, a style of singing that's foreign to prog that only makes this album a hot mess.

Thankfully, I embrace both.

As a fan of symphonic prog, prog metal and power metal, I've had my fair share of tall, long (or short) haired blondies with falsetto pitches and high screams. Every now and then, I appreciate someone like Chapel who brings his "Puddle Of Mudd" voice to a "Porcupine Tree" party, if you will. Purely hypothetical, but take one listen to track one, "The Perfect Symmetry" and you can hear the slow elements of a Porcupine Tree, or a Riverside, an Oceansize, maybe even Tool. If you cut off the rising strings intro and piece the first and second halves together, you could easily make a four minute long radio edit for the airwaves.

Now, if you're also a fan of instrumental music like me and always wants exciting music to listen to such as a symphonic prog group or maybe even a jam band or two, this particular record may not be for you. You're not going to find sweeping synths and blistering guitar solos, but what you will find is a texture incomparable to any prog group I've ever heard. I can't even compare this to Tool or Porcupine Tree, because this is a disc all it's own. In fact, if you give a fan of, say, Nickleback or the Foo Fighters both Tool's "Undertow" and Demians' "Building An Empire" disc, chances are, he/she will probably listen to the Demians album (if not neither of them).

I'll be honest here, this particular sub-genre is boring as hell if it be not for some exciting or at least particularly interesting vocals and textures. Chapel's voice is sort of that fresh air commonly seen in monotonous, droning, boring British folks commonly seen in Shoegaze (particularly because the musicians always stare downwards at their shoes, hence the name).

If "The Perfect Symmetry" doesn't grab you right away, "Shine" should at least pique your curiosity. Few bands combine these elements of progressive textures and symphonic soundscapes with catchy verses and easily accessible vocals. If halfway through the track you don't start banging your head, you obviously don't like this subgenre of prog. "Shine" and "Naive" are probably the most accessible tracks, because, as previously stated, the vocals are there, the catchy verses are there and most of the droning, some would say boring, soundscapes are kept to a minimal, at least until tracks like "Sapphire" and "Sand".

At least for those who appreciate music not just for musicallity, but for texture, for construction and for the atmosphere it's created for, this is a masterpiece of music. After all, it was entirely recorded by a Frenchman, which till I discovered this disc, I'll admit, all French musicians made bad music.

(Obviously I have since retracted my previous statement.)

Wicket | 5/5 |


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