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Nostradamus - Testament CD (album) cover

TESTAMENT

Nostradamus

 

Symphonic Prog

4.07 | 29 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I guess I get to be the first to tackle this exceptional work, hopefully not the last. Nostradamus is the next step in the evolution of famed Hungarian band Solaris and this is their maiden release and a great one, opening the door to a stargazing musical.future. This offshoot band is led by composer and keyboardist Valeria Barcsik and flutist Péter Földesi with able assistance from crunchy guitarist András Káptalan. The fabulous Solaris rhythm section remains intact with the sensational László Gömör on drums and his pal Tamás Pócs on the 4 string monster. They create an instrumental goulash that is perhaps way more muscular than the parent company, with hints of gloom and doom that are utterly intrepid. The drummer is particularly impressive throughout the recording, slamming hard and fast.

"Solarissimo" immediately showcases Valeria's mastery of keyboards, leading the flute propeller charge on a merry dance of bluster and bravado with Kaptalan's brash guitar and the ultra-solid double-bass drum attack filling the foundation with slabs of metallic splendor. Bombastic, majestic and devastating.

"Troy" shows no sonic remorse, driving the Greek legend soundtrack with Herculean vigor, showing no Achilles heel in its Trojan horse maneuvers; only the flute shows any kind of gentility.

"Shadow in the Rain" is a transcendent example of symphonic prog drenched in melancholia, a spiraling lead flute, trembling piano and valiant guitar combining mightily, rhythm section in tow. This is a welcome humid contrast to the previous sonic depth- charging, a gorgeous melody that seeps deep into the soul.

"Divine Comedy" presents a musical adaptation of Dante's literary work, complete with howling string synthesizers, rabidly thrashing metalloid guitar and pungent flute flickers. The bass and drum section is fast, funky and phenomenal.

A forlorn bass announces the desolate "This Is Not the Day of your Death", a brooding flute interlaces with bubbling electronica and echo-laden percussive to create a funeral march of disturbance and reflection.

A forlorn organ announces the delicate "Children's Kingdom", a sly intro that explodes into another booming manifesto, the organ remaining on the table, servicing the flute and guitar perfectly. The orchestrations certainly are grandiose with the heavy-metal drumming cresting the score. "Run of the World" lets loose once again with the same formula, a strong lead flute melody of almost classical nurturing, turbocharged drumming that chooses to kick the mood hard in the behind.

The magnificent and epic 14 minute title track is the resounding showstopper, again shepherded by Földesi's thrilling flute, dancing over some scintillating polyrhythmic drum rolls and fluid bass rumbles, while the understated electric guitar on one hand and organ, piano and synth on the other snake in occasional flashing runs. Palpitating inspiration, captivating drive and fascinating energy keep this colossal piece huffing and puffing to the end, a lovely respite, with waltzing wind and slick propellant aiding and abetting in the grandiose scheme of things. Gorgeously symphonic! More please!

"African Cotton Typesetters in Ireland" (whatever that means) is short and worldly, completely forgettable .

The flow does not dissipate towards the finale as "Emotion" and "Mystica" are both stellar symphonic tracks that burnish willingly. The first displays a serene disposition, as suggested by its implacable title, full of epidermal swoon and majestic spray. The feel is cinematographic with resonating guitar slashes amid the sad flute figurine and when András decides to solo, he really gives it a tortured caress that carries the weight of pain heavily. The second is, again as its name may imply, a spiritual adventure that is ferociously enthralling, complex rhythms colliding with extreme contrasts that hint evocatively at Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" in spirit only , though the drums do have a Bonham- like thump.

"Secret in Hand" is highly orchestral, suddenly offering a sorrowful vocal in the finest Hungarian folk tradition, deeply intense and goose-bumpy. The metamorphosis into a flute and acoustic guitar duet is simply splendid.

Bonus track "My Emotion" is a variant that incorporates Valeria's thin but expressive voice (in English, please!), a completely different experience that contrasts with the previous material, very interesting in terms of adding a different twist to their style.

I hope we hear more from this excellent group of accomplished musicians while Solaris is on a sabbatical. A must for fans of the Hungarian stalwart but also harder sympho bands like Ayreon will flock to this debut with gusto. Great highway driving music BTW!

4.5 Ominous magyar wills

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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