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Xaal - En Chemin CD (album) cover





3.68 | 28 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really

In the lenghty French prog tradition of heavily Crimson inspired bands (such Carpe Diem, Shylock and recently Nebelnest), came out in the early 90's Xaal, a guitar-lead trio that gets some help either from a keyboardist on some tracks and some brass section in other (and both on the second last track). Clearly this instrumental trio was at the top of their game and from these years, there were not many new generation groups that were able to top them.

Starting out on three very familiar APP notes, the album is a conceptual piece about a Child's way to his destiny and the tricks, traps and other obstacles of life on his road to fulfilment. Yes, these guys have clearly heard some King Crimson, but they are jazzier than the Fripp boys, but there are ever-so subtle hints of Magma also.

Not everything is perfect on the album, most notably the weak KB on the closing moments of the title track but on the whole, the album holds its own without ever being really brilliant either. The climax of the album comes with the second-last 11-min Byblos (and its incredible middle section where the brass section is contributing to the madness that Alamaailman Vasarat would make theirs a decade later, and the incredibly violent Final.

Not an easy listen for casual progheads, partly due to the instrumental nature of their music, Xaal's first album is certainly worth a spin, but nothing absolutely essential either.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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