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Phideaux - Doomsday Afternoon CD (album) cover



Crossover Prog

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5 stars Once again Phideaux sets the bar even higher and creates a moody, beautiful concept album of recurring/overlapping themes (and effective use orchestral instruments as well). Easily some of the best new music I've heard this decade, this album incorporates killer melodies/songwriting, with creative arrangements and production... totally compelling and addictive. It's dark and deep yet fun at the same time, growing on you more with each listen. The influence of music like Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Moody Blues, and early Genesis is there but Phideaux's unique musical personality really shines through. Art rock at it's best, magical and passionate. It's been quite a while since new music made an impact on me like this.
Report this review (#127429)
Posted Tuesday, July 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars After a bit of a buzz about Phideaux here on ProgArchives, I got The Great Leap and this album, Doomsday Afternoon. The buzz was justified, as the multi-instrumentalist has crafted some of the best art rock of the new millennium. Doomsday Afternoon continues the concept from The Great Leap that deals with a look at Big Brother-like authoritarian government.

The album has a great flow to it, with Xavier's use of orchestration and guest musicians making this a bombastic record. In fact, it is probably the most epic in his catalog, and it stands in great contrast to the more straight-forward Great Leap. The melodies are superb, and this album drips with moody textures. This album, like the last, pays some overt musical homage to Blackfield and Porcupine Tree (i.e. simple psychedelic themes that somehow sound more complex than they really are), although it's much less pronounced on this disc. There is also a modern/alternative feel that mingles nicely with the classical and classic prog sounds. There is plenty of musical prowess on display, and it's nice to see no one instrument hogging the limelight. Inventive drum fills, lush keyboards and organs, tasteful guitar, it's all here, along with some great lyrics and vocals from Xavier and his guests.

Doomsday Afternoon is another highlight for what is rapidly becoming the best year of the new millennium for progressive rock. In a year with strong releases from Dream Theater, Devin Townsend, Neal Morse, Explosions in the Sky, John Zorn, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Symphony X, Porcupine Tree, and a host of other standout albums, this record more than holds its own. I can't wait for the final part of the trilogy.

Grade: B+

Report this review (#133419)
Posted Thursday, August 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Phideaux Xavier doesn't half-do things ! The Phideaux project is a bit like a big family, with lotsof musicians being old friends of the man, who's lucky to know so many talented people ! Yet, he has enrolled a couple of some new musicians for this new album and for the two concerts they have played this month. Actually, the list of musicians playing on this album is pretty long, and it's made longer due to the fact that we find 15 members from the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra (strings, woods, brass). Those ones performed on 4 tracks, including some of the longest ones and their contribution is just excellent. The band teamed up again with keyboard player Mark Sherkus (with some more analogic keyboards). Apart from Gabriel Moffat (sound engineer and guitar player !), and they have found a new bass player, Matthew Kennedy. Then, we've got again the same four female vocalists who sing harmony vocals but also perform some duets with Xavier - or even sing solo (like Valerie Gracious whose charming voice is featured on the two versions of the moving "Crumble" for instance. And she plays piano too !). Xavier himself, in addition to the singing, he takes in charge the acoustic guitars and some piano, this instrument being featured on most songs, plus a bit of synths. Among the guests : a lead guitarist on two tracks (Joel Weinstein), Martin Orford from IQ for a nice synthesizer solo and Matthew Parmenter from Discipline, on violin (plus some vocals) on four tracks, and also two flute players (Steve Dundon, Rob Martino), a new keyboard player who'll be on stage with the band, Johnny Unicorn, plus you've got Patti Amelotte who plays dulcimer on two tracks. Finally, you've got Arjen Lucassen, who couldn't contribute musically, but who can be heard speaking during a few seconds during the last piece of the album. What is rather amazing in Phideaux's career, is that his albums are always different. Here we are with the sixth one in just about 4 years and it is easy to notice a new evolution. The die-hard progressive rock fans who are grumbling as soon as a track is less than 6-minute-long should be happy with this one. because this is just one long suite of pieces, with most tracks chained together or at least stuck one to each other, with 5 of them lasting 8, 9, 10 and even 14 minutes. The whole album is 67-minute- long and everything is like a coherent suite of songs, with some themes repeated, etc. and it is a concept-album. So, you prog rock fundamentalists, is that enough for you ?! The concept, is a kind of fable, or an "eco terror tale" , as the composer described it himself, the second part of a trilogy started with "The great leap". Musically, "Doomsday afternoon" is pretty different and, in my humble opinion, noticeably superior to this previous album. Not because it's more progressive. "The great leap" contained already quite some melody and rhythm changes in tracks that were only 5 or 6-minute-long. Of course, that one is more complex, but the main reason is that it's a very symphonic album, at the same time calmer but stronger, melody-wise. Many intimate, pastoral passages and others that are more epic, majestic, where some classical, folk and progressive tones are mixed together, plus the inevitable psychedelic touches that are Xavier's trademark. The latter signs all the music except two tracks penned with his old pal, drummer Ritch Hutchins (whose playing is outstanding here) and the orchestrations by Paul Rudolph. Many instrumental sections, sometimes pretty long ones, come between the vocal parts. and yet the whole stays remarkably accessible. Contrary to other bands where influences are too obvious, Phideaux's references are well assimilated, though we can find some slight similarities with some of Phideaux Xavier's favourite influences : Jethro Tull around the time of "A passion play" and "Thick as a brick", some 70's Italian progressive bands, Genesis, Camel, and of course, Pink Floyd. We can also add Renaissance. Though, this is original music, without a doubt. The record is divided in two "acts", 30 and 37-minute-long, each comprising 5 songs. The first act begins with "Micro softdeathstar", an eleven-minute suite that really brings you... "somewhere else", with its multiple sections, at the same time intimate, orchestral, with some eastern-like music plus some psychedelic overtones. Xavier delivers a really lovable vocal performance, helped by his friends the female singers. Here's a musician who is not the best singer in the world but his high-pitched voice is always right and sensitive, sometimes moving in the most intimate moments. "The doctrine of eternal ice part 1" is a catchy, clearly symphonic piece, with eastern and folky elements, with prominent piano, synths, electric guitar and orchestra. "Candybrain" is a more dreamy track, with an organ, electric guitar harmonies, acoustic guitar and flute, that is using a theme from the first track. A magical moment is the short but touching "crumble", in his instrumental version, with only some ethereal vocalises by Valerie Gracious, piano, organ (in the style of Tony Banks circa 70-72 !) and orchestra, a little bit of lapsteel guitar. Finally, "The doctrine of eternal ice part 2" is a bit more synthetic and psychedelic, with a long instrumental development. The second act is maybe more symphonic and even more beautiful than the first one. "Thank you for the evil" will maybe reminds to some people the quieter and dreamy parts from the underestimated Pink Floyd masterpiece "Animals". The vocal melody performed by Phideaux and his friends develops over a specific blend of futuristic synths, electric piano, acoustic and electric guitars, supported by a solid rhythm section where the bass guitar contributes to the melody. This is connected to the next piece, a purely symphonic one, with some pastoral flute and violin ("A wasteland of memories"). We're close to orchestral film music here. Let's just say that it's simply beautiful. We go on with another version of "Crumble", connected to the previous track, with that simple melody on the piano and the cristalline voice of Valerie Gracious (who truly deserves her last name !). The long and changing "Formaldehyde" is more dynamic and more typically progressive (quite a lot of rhythm changes) and finally, the huge "Microdeath softstar" comprises all of the previous elements heard in the album and brings it to a end in a majestic manner, though the real ending is intimate and soft, as the album started initially. we've come full circle - and with such a class ! By the way, did I tell you that the album's production is excellent ? The orchestra is perfectly mixed with the other instruments and each of those instruments is clearly audible, which is an exploit, considering the richness of the arrangements. "Doomsday" is from now on the most elaborated Phideaux album, maybe his most beautiful as well. And when the lyrics are also meaningful. that's the icing on the cake. So what. is it a masterpiece ? I don't use the word often at all and only the test of time confirms that kind of statement, but "Doomsday afternoon" is certainly on the right foot to deserve that term, yes. It's without a doubt the Album of the Year. Essential ! Marc Moingeon
Report this review (#134608)
Posted Thursday, August 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Initially I posted a short 2-star review of this album, but it was removed so I'll try to go into more detail about why I don't like this album. This will be a mostly negative review-if you don't want to read a negative review of the album, stop now.

First off, I guess it goes without saying that I like progressive rock- the adventurousness, the musicianship, the artistic vision, and especially the musical complexity. But what I find even more intriguing is music that balances complexity and accessibility, without making any blatant sacrifices in either regard. That's what makes great "prog-rock" (my opinion anyway).

This is certainly not a complex album. There's usually one instrument carrying the melody, with all the instruments playing a very minor and supportive role. Drums and bass do basically nothing interesting over the entire 67-minute album. The main instrument is usually either keyboards or the vocals or occasionally guitar. Every once in a while, there's an orchestral instrument or two, but their parts just strike me as being added in for effect ("Look everybody, there's a trumpet! And here are some strings! Isn't this a big production!") rather than adding anything interesting other than timbre. Except the last song, every one is in 4/4 or 3/4 (or some in 6/4 if you want to be technical). They're all slow or mid-tempo. There are basically no moments you could call "intense" or even "fast." Maybe that's part of the design (a somber mood to mourn environmental decay), but it makes for some tediousness over 67 minutes.

Another off-putting quality is the singing. The guy's voice is ok when it's quiet, but when he tries to sing loud or high, it takes on this really nasal quality that just reminds me of a sick gremlin. And there are vocals all over this album. The female ones are ok most of the time. Vocalists are always tough to find though, and I can appreciate someone with a unique sound (even if it's not really "good") so this isn't a major problem for me most of the time.

I don't like cliches, and especially not in the songwriting department. This album is full of them. If you know anything about proggy chord sequences, than you'll know that, if you're in a minor key, a major IV chord can sound good. (for example, going from E minor to A major and back, or Em-D-A, sounds nice) And of course, then there's the Em-D-C-B, and the even less exciting, Em-D-C. These sequences (it doesn't really matter what key you start in) have been used in tons and tons of songs. They're old. They're nothing special anymore. There's nothing wrong with using them per se, but you ought to at least try to add something else to distinguish the song (a distinctive melody, a unique sound, a driving rhythm, an odd time signature, something) if they're going to be the main basis of all the music on an album. This album rarely does. There must be about 30 minutes of repetition of sequences like these on the album, with nothing but really quiet and subtle effects to distinguish them. Phideaux seems to think that just playing Dm-G-Dm-G over and over on standard instruments is enough to carry a song. Maybe for the alternative rock crowd (G-D-Em-C anyone?), that type of writing can be sufficient, but you sort of expect a little more from a "progressive" or even "Prog" album. It's a common complaint that 60-80 minute albums nowadays would be much better as 40-minute albums, and that's definitely the case here, for me anyway.

The first song is one of the longer ones. Although it's marred by probably the most nasal singing on the album, it manages to contain a few decent parts. But this is about as prog-by-numbers as can be. Yes, the song hops along from one part to another, but none of them are all that good and definitely not anything unique. At least this song contains some changes of pace though.

Probably my favorite track on the album is "Crumble." It's based around a very nice 12-second chord sequence and melody. But that's it. All 3 minutes is pretty much just playing it quietly on piano, with some singing or strings too. And the same track is on the album twice! I was actually expecting it to be reprised at the end a la "Supper's Ready" but it was only reprised briefly and in a different arrangement. I guess they deserve credit for that though.

While we're on the topic of reprising themes, there are other instances of it on the album. Some reviewers have been impressed by this, but there's really no reason to be- since almost the whole album follows the same rhythms and patterns, it's not terribly difficult to play different themes, especially when they're as simple as the ones here. I, for one, would rather hear something *new* than the idea that had already bored me the first time around. For the record, the little 5-second piano riff that sounds like something Mozart (or anyone with a smattering of classical music) could have written as a toddler, which is reprised several times over the course of the ten songs, is nothing to write home about. But it's pretty much the basis for a big chunk of the album.

One highlight is the end of the fifth song, "The Doctrine of Eternal Ice (part two)," which manages to work into a nice groove by the end. I still think it could have been more with some inventive composition, but it is nice for a minute or two there.

This album reminds me a lot of a watered-down Eloy. It has all the elements of progressive rock- a great album cover, lots of keyboards, decent production, an epic scope, etc., but it's just so bland and unexciting for me. The sixth track "Thank you for the Evil," is a perfect example. The first few minutes are nothing but a basic slow drumbeat and a couple of notes on acoustic guitar and synthesizer. It's all in 4/4, it's mostly just one chord, there are only two or three instruments, and it lasts two entire minutes. I was ready for something new after about twenty seconds. When the acoustic guitar finally starts playing something substantial, it's a very basic little riff (but it's in D minor, and they build up to a big G major chord!). This is pretty much the basis of the whole song. It lasts nine minutes.

The last song deserves some coverage too as it's obviously the "complex" one. After another two-minute opening where almost nothing happens, we get a surprise- alternating bars of 5/4 and 6/4! Apparently this was a big deal, so it makes up most of the next few minutes of the song. They even switch back and forth between 5/4 and 6/4, sometimes staying in 6/4 completely. Then the song ends with a rather bland 4-chord rock sequence in 4/4 and some preachy lyrics.

Now in spite of all my complaints, there are some good points on this album. First off, the artwork is downright stunning. It goes along nicely with the concept, which seems to be all about the decay of the environment. The production is pretty good. I wish it sounded like the musicians were excited about playing the material rather than sounding like they were reading music off a page, but generally the album sounds nice. There's an impressive array of guest musicians, but other than the orchestral instruments, I really don't see the point as virtually everything sounds written out, with actual band interplay virtually nowhere to be heard. This was probably one of those "everyone records their parts separately and few of the band members ever meet each other" kind of recordings. Nothing wrong with that I guess, but it can really lead to some musically vacant material if you don't try to spice things up somehow.

So, since this album is the #1 album for 2007 at progarchives, I really have to wonder if I'm missing something. Lots of people are giving it five-star reviews. Well, as I've said, it does have some strong points- the artwork, the concept, the sound, and about 5 or 10 minutes of music. My main qualm is with the actual songs. They're boring. They're full of cliches. Really, for me nothing else matters much. It's like a cake made with rotten eggs- it might look nice, and even taste ok at first, but ultimately it's just not a good product.

Within the world of prog-rock, this is a very very safe album. If you listen to it expecting to find problems or mistakes (things that stick out as being *bad*), you won't find many, other than maybe the vocals and the really boring parts. I think that's part of why it's getting positive reviews (I can imagine someone thinking "This album is a concept album with long songs, slick production, lots of guest musicians, lots of keyboards, great artwork (even a reference to "Supper's Ready")- it MUST be a great album!"). The way I listen to music though is quite the opposite- I expect the music to actually grab me and try to do things that haven't been done. Playing it safe is not the way to do this. In other words, whereas some folks start out giving an album 5 stars and then subtract points for anything they really DON'T like, I start out with 0 stars, and then I add points if there's stuff I DO like. Bland albums like this one will get 4 or 5 stars from people in the first category and much fewer stars from people like me. I guess I sound like a jerk for saying it that way, but that's how it is. I am a jerk. :)

But if a friend of mine handed me this CD and I listened to it, I'd probably be quite impressed. It is a big production for an independent musician. I really suspect that's what's going on here. Now don't get me wrong, I'll bet some of the five-star ratings are from people who don't know Phideaux or anyone else in the "band," but I wouldn't be surprised if many of them aren't. There's nothing wrong with an artist trying to promote himself fairly, but there's also nothing wrong with someone who doesn't like an album expressing his or her opinion. No offense to anyone personally. I gave this album several listens and have put a lot of effort into this review, so I hope the powers that be will allow other people to read it just like they can read all the other uber-positive reviews.

Report this review (#135448)
Posted Thursday, August 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars This was written and recorded at the same time as "The Great Leap". They decided to release the shorter and darker "The Great Leap" first. Phideaux himself has stated (tongue in cheek ?) that "Doomsday Afternoon" is a "pretentious and bloated concept album". He also stated that this record is really "one long song cycle" that has been broken into sections. Phideaux has also stated "This is the album i've always wanted to make". I'm reviewing this record as someone who has been a fan for a while, and I think that is important. I say that because i've seen so many people give this 5 stars who have never previously heard a PHIDEAUX record. And i've seen this record being compared to "Dark Side Of The Moon" , "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" , "Thick As A Brick" , "Close To The Edge" and so on. No offense to these people but ARE YOU ALL CRAZY !! Ok I know there are special guests on this record like Martin Orford and Matthew Parmenter, and yes there is an orchestra. Also this is more symphonic and complex then their past records. Everybody loves it ! Well not everybody, not me. My favourite PHIDEAUX album so far is "Chupacabras" and i'm ordering "Ghost Story" soon. That will leave "Fiendish" as the only PHIDEAUX record that I don't have yet. The subject matter is again the enviroment and governments.

"Micro Softdeathstar" opens with gentle vocals and piano before passionate vocals, drums and some good guitar arrive. Some violin after 2 minutes as the song calms down. We get some strings before my favourite part of the song 8 minutes in. "The Doctrine Of Eternal Ice (Part One)" is an instrumental with the drums and orchestration standing out. Some good guitar before 2 minutes as piano ends the song. "Candybrain" features strummed guitar, organ and keys. I like the male vocal melodies and female vocals 3 minutes in as clapping, keys and flute come in. "Crumble" is one of my favourites. Piano and orchestration lead the way. There is a great sound 2 minutes in with female vocal melodies. "The Doctrine Of Eternal Ice (Part Two)" has more female vocal melodies and orchestration. The best part of the song is 5 minutes in as it speeds up with keys and synths.

"Thank You For The Evil" has steadily pounding drums with spacey synths. There is acoustic guitar with vocals coming in after 3 minutes courtesy of Matthew Parmenter. This is my favourite tune, it's so different from the rest, almost psychedelic. "A Wasteland Of Memories" is a very orchestral song with flute and violin. "Crumble" has more female vocals and piano. "Formaldehyde" is the song that Phideaux feels everything on this album leads to, or builds up to. We get a synth solo from Orford, more vocals and violin by Parmenter. Some good guitar as well. "Microdeath Softstar" has some spoken words from Arjen Lucassen. The first 2 1/2 minutes are filled with organ melodies. Vocals before 4 minutes as violin, guitar and female vocals follow. Pulsating keys and some excellent drumming before the vocals come back.

For me already being a fan and reading all these positive reviews I expected this to be the best PHIDEAUX album yet. Boy was I wrong ! I actually prefered "The Great Leap" to this one, by a little bit. Keep in mind that my opinion is in the minority as most people love this record.

Report this review (#135557)
Posted Thursday, August 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I think we have a winner.

There is absolutely no need to make a long review of this awesome album and here's why: it's not complex nor difficult to get into...and it won't easily be topped this year. With this record, you have (at this time of year), the best value for your hard earned dineros. It's a very rich album (brass, french horn, analog keyboard, flute), with superb melodies and memorable orchestration. Doomsday Afternoon (a nice wink to the Moody Blues) is such an easy going record, you can put your brain to 'stand by' and won't miss much. The mood is relaxed, with the occasionnal orchestral boom and there is not trace of metal in here...thank you lord.

Phideaux is doing it old school and I won't complain about it one bit. There's so much progressive metal albums coming out from everywhere, a few quieter moments are just what your body needs in this restless world. You can trace Pink Floyd pinches all the time, but done with taste; which means no Dark Side or Animals references, but to me the album Atom Heart Mother comes frequently across my mind...goodie, we don't see much of this anymore.

Again, this album is THE solid contender for most enjoyable, non-metal, Pink Floyd oriented mellow album of this year, and in a long long time.

My favorite record of all time.

Report this review (#135888)
Posted Sunday, September 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars Last year I listened to Phideaux their previous effort entitled The Great Leap, I was quite disappointed and even decided not to review it, in general I cannot motivate myself to write about music I don't like. But this album is another story: because of the many positive, often sheer euphoric reviews here on Prog Archives (already 32!) I asked a good friend to borrow me Doomsday Afternoon and from the first listening session I was pleased with their 'new' sound.

The CD Doomsday Afternoon is a concept album with the subtitle An Eco Terror Tale, in a great way supported by mindblowing paintings that look like a blend of Hieronymus Bosch (madness and fear), Vincent Van Gogh (expressive colours) and Gerald Scarfe (venomous look on mankind). The music sounds as a blend of Art-rock, progressive pop and symphonic rock, on one hand melodic and accessible but on the other hand very alternating and elaborate featuring lots of good musical ideas and interesting shifting moods, from dreamy and atmospheric to compelling, a tight mid-tempo or bombastic. I am delighted about the omnipresent 'vintage' keyboard sound like in The Doctrine Of Eternal Ice (Part One with fat Minimoog flights and the warm ARP string-ensemble and Part Two with Minimoog, ARP string-ensemble, Fender Rhodes electric piano and the distinctive swinging clavinet sound) and Candybrain featuring an acoustic rhythm guitar with Hammond organ. We can also enjoy an orchestra with woodwind instruments (French horn, clarinet and trumpet) and violins and the both male as female vocals are strong and varied, including Matthew Parmenter who performed in 2005 on the USA Nearfest festival along Le Orme and IQ. My highlight on this new album is the final composition (at about 15 minutes): first soaring Hammond organ waves, then a tight mid-tempo with a very tasteful keyboard colouring and strong vocals. During the sparkling violin soli I am in Seventies Kansas Heaven! After a fiery guitar solo the final part contains a melancholical atmosphere (that matches perfectly with the subtitle and concept of Doomsday Afternoon) delivering dreamy paino work and wailing violin play, is this a musical prologue that warnes we are on the brink of polluting ourselves to a slow death?

I am surprised by this varied and tasteful new Phideaux album, I can understand the positive words in other reviews but this is not mainstream progrock or Classic Prog or whatever, this is ..... the new Phideaux!

Report this review (#136332)
Posted Wednesday, September 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well, it was really good! Almost 3.5!

This is my first introduction into PHIDEAUX music, and I hope not the last. Sometimes it happens that a dark horse makes a huge breakthrough and manages to capture almost anyone’s attention. I guess you remember a related situation with GAZPACHO’s latest release ;) As with GAZPACHO, I was afraid that PHIDEAUX is just another empty hype, but fortunately not. This guy truly deserves some more attention here, and these are his 15 minutes.

There’s a universal receipt to make a good and accessible Prog album. Make it emotional, melodic, catchy and supply with some quotes from the past Masters. Voila – it works! PHIDEAUX reminds me of PINK FLOYD (“Thank you for the Evil” sounds like “Wish You Were Here” off-shot!), GENESIS (listen to epics that both make this CD worthy of having!!!), some modern Retro-Prog like MOSTLY AUTUMN (due to touching female vocals) and so on. Don’t rush to claim that you’ve got the whole picture; PHIDEAUX is REALLY that much melodic, his abilities are on the level of Classics, and if you don’t care much for originality or strong musicianship or complexity, “Doomsday Afternoon” may become your Album of the Year! Unfortunately I failed to notice my beloved Matthew Parmenter here in full colour (where are his majestic vocals?), but this is bearable. Strongly recommended, though it may become pale after few listening sessions.

Report this review (#136844)
Posted Friday, September 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Through the eye of time go I.

If symphonic prog were a language, Phideaux certainly speaks it fluently on Doomsday Afternoon. If you like your prog 100% original, you can safely pass this one by. I for one am really enjoying what he's done here. It's chock full of elements you'll be familiar with if you're familiar with the classic prog artists. At the risk of leaving some out some names, classic era Pink Floyd, Genesis, and Jethro Tull come to mind in particular.

I started out with Fiendish about a month ago and after that sunk in I ordered four more titles including this one. After these sink in, I'll definitely be going for Chupacabras. Out of my four newer acquisitions, this one stands out in particular. I have yet to hear anything by this artist I don't like. Check out the streaming Formaldehyde from Doomsday Afternoon offered on this site and be sure to further explore the streaming tracks from his other albums offered on his site. I'll be highly surprised if you don't get hooked, too. There's already been some good detailed content reviews of this one, so I'll keep my review short and sweet. I can't rank this more than a 4.5, which mathmatically rounds up to a 5.

Report this review (#136864)
Posted Friday, September 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Science fiction and progressive music come together in the second part of this epic trilogy from PHIDEAUX, which began with their previous album "The Great Leap."

This album is a concept album and details the apocalyptic horrors which mankind is in grave danger of inflicting upon itself. The lyrics allude to ecological disaster, absolute authoritive control and even genetic engineering, hinting without being explicit, thus adding to the mystery of the concept presented.

"Doomsday Afternoon" is the fullfillment of Phideaux Xavier's personal ambition to record with orchestral instruments, and was hence recorded with the participation of no less than 15 members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, with lead vocals by Phideaux himself and Valerie Gracious. The music is reminiscent of Italian symphonic Prog, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd and possibly many others which my ears have yet to discern, which have clearly been and influence on the band.

Mood swings are a constant feature of the album. In the opening track, "Micro Softdeathstar," we are taken from the ominous, threatening tones of the first few bars to a sudden agressiveness which takes us by surprise. Then follow the more upbeat and optomistic melodies of the second track, "The Doctrine of Eternal Ice (Part 1)" and just when our spirit is lifted, we have a return to the threatening undertones of the first track. To a similar effect, melodies, riffs and lyrics are repeated throughout this concept album, thus linking the common theme to all the pieces. Similarly, the first and final tracks are linked. Note the poignant change in the title of these two tracks, "Micro Softdeathstar" to "Microdeath Softstar" (is this intended to remind me of a certain very famous software firm or is it just a figment of my imagination?) which brings the album full circle.

This rather intense complexity is kept up until the forth track "crumble," a piano solo, which should serve to dispel critism of over- intensity (I know such critics are out there!) without which such criticism would perhaps be justified.

All in all, an excellent piece of work which reveals itself more and more with each hearing. I am reluctant to give out 5 stars lightly, but this album surely deserves it. I look forward to the release of the final part of the trilogy, "Infernal"


Thanks to Bloodfish official website.

Report this review (#142563)
Posted Sunday, October 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Great packaging, great production, great sound and design, but unfortunately the underlying songs really sound padded out, lacking in substance, and just don't do that much for me. Overall I'd still call it "ok" though.
Report this review (#144186)
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Al Stewart meets Maggie Reilly!

No, not really of course. But as we were listening to this album over and over on a recent car trip, we were trying to figure out who the vocalists sound like. The light bulb finally came on and I do believe that Phideaux sounds like Al Stewart, the "Year of the Cat" guy. And while I realize there is more than one female vocalist here, one of them sounds a bit like Maggie Reilly circa "Moonlight Shadow." Both observations should be considered a compliment! Anyway, on to the review.

I always kind of dread getting those "hot" CDs that have been getting the 5 star pile-on ratings because I usually end up hugely disappointed. With this ambitious conceptual feast titled "Doomsday Afternoon" I was definitely NOT disappointed. But on the flip side I cannot jump on the 5-star bus either.

The music of Doomsday is alive, warm, animated, and quite easy to enjoy. The nod to the 1970s conceptual prog album is certainly there but DA never sounds stale or dated. Melody, atmosphere and pleasing instrumentation seem to be the first concern. The album really is more on the mellow side of things with plenty of acoustic and light rock parts. Harmonized vocals, strummed acoustics, flutes, strings, pianos and other keyboards, orchestral's all here and arranged with great love to create a fairly unique tapestry of storytelling magic in an age when flash wankery seems to be the overriding concern of too many young musicians and listeners. Complexity can certainly be great but it never trumps beauty or storytelling (musical or lyrical) in my book, and Phideaux knows storytelling like the back of his hand, and he has beautiful melody up his sleeve in spades.

My complaints about the album are few but I'll try to explain in some detail. It is a little longer than it needs to be which always bugs me. There are some sections that coast in mid gear and just cry out for something more aggressive; a little too much mid tempo that could use a kick in the pants in places. I'm not suggesting they go metal but I am saying that those classic 70s masterpieces almost always contained high quality mellow sections, mid tempo sections, and high gear sections. I think Phideaux is a master of the first two but seems to have forgotten the third for the most part as it concerns the electric guitar and drumming. I fully realize there are a few spots where an adrenalin injection is attempted, but the dosage is too low to provide enough "edge" for a 66 minute long rock recording. There are plenty of great songs here as impressive as, say "Aqualung," but there is nothing as kickass as Mr. Barre's guitar solo. Perhaps Phideaux didn't want that which is fine but I'm not alone in thinking it could use the equivalent of that Aqualung solo in a few spots. The up-front (in the mix) burst, packed with immediacy, as opposed to the more laid back solos woven into a busy sound fabric.

In summary DA is not a perfect masterpiece to me but it is a very special recording in the year 2007 and it sits in high company on my 4-star shelf. This is an album that will reward the listener for years to come and it will age very well because it is essentially timeless music. He doesn't grasp at hip/coolness factors which is precisely what makes something seems dated or silly years later. Take one listen to the 2 part track "Crumble" and you'll know what I mean-such beauty is timeless. I can easily recommend this album to fans of quality symphonic prog, especially the more mellow and pretty side such as Willowglass or Faveravola, as well as to neo-prog fans. And I think fans of this album should definitely check out the band Chaos Code which is making modern epic symphonic like this, but with a harder guitar rock edge. Congratulations to the band, well done.

Report this review (#144921)
Posted Monday, October 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars US band Phideaux was an unknown entity for me, until I got hold of this album. And I can sure understand why there's a buzz for this artist and this release.

Musically this album is somewhat of a melting pot of music from the 70's, where the impression is that the band has carefully collected all the best parts of dark-sounding prog from this era and mixed it to a potent brew in a magical cauldron somewhere.

The soundscapes ebb and flow from one mood to another, from mellow themes to epic themes the size of Mount Everest. All the time melodic and symphonic, and with a warm, modern production highlighting the atmospheres and mixing everything happening just right.

One of the best albums I've come across so far in life; perhaps even the best.

Report this review (#145115)
Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars There is little to say about this album that hasn't already been said. Great orchestration, melodies, an album that takes you on a true journey. Sure, there are some slower moments, but there are some quicker-paced moments too. It is the whole, flowing concept that counts in the end, and it turns out to be an interesting and rewarding listen. This is undoubtedly one of the best albums of 2007, and a fairly surprising one in many ways. PHIDEAUX's previous works, although good, appear somewhat unambitious alongside, preferring riffs to this more compositional approach. I certainly wont be complaining about the evolution, though, and I would highly recommend this album to anyone that enjoys their prog varied with multiple influences (PINK FLOYD and GENESIS come to mind, but also WHITE WILLOW).
Report this review (#155445)
Posted Friday, December 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars ...well, first of all I have to apologize for my not so good..let´s say bad english... Well, it has all been said, there´s an continuous flow on this album, it all fits together including the artwork, it´s like one piece and it never gets boring. A lot of old-fashioned keybords and orchestral elements, ambitious but not that complicated though. Many beautiful female lead vocals make it varied. If you want to take trip fow almost 67 minutes, take this one! So for me it is not only the Prog-Album of the year, it is THE album of the year.
Report this review (#156109)
Posted Thursday, December 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars DOOMSDAY AFTERNOON is quite simply a masterpiece. Every now and then you get an album that comes along that just works on every level. Right from the second you tear off the cellophane and marvel at Moll Ruttan's wonderful paintings - you know this is going to be something special. This is a concept album that flows effortlessly from start to finish. The marvelous signature themes that repeat throughout the journey make it seem like Doomsday is one long magical song. There are so many of those perfect moments on this album - you know, the ones that make the hairs stand up on your arms! The most obvious of these is the timeless Crumble - a theme so beautiful, it appears twice - first in act one, as piano on its own. Then later in act two with some sublime haunting vocals. Doomsday Afternoon is an eco disaster tale, wonderfully told through touching music, poignant lyrics, and vibrant meaningful artwork. Thank you Phideaux and friends for giving me something I will treasure. 10 / 10

Report this review (#156261)
Posted Saturday, December 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars 2007 was a year plentiful of prog releases. a good feature, no? Maybe, some will argue that we had mainly quantity instead of quality but I won't argue here in order not to be unfair: many albums are too fresh and they have still the possibility to grow in the hearer's taste; otherwise, we might be watching a prog revival, even in a restrict circle, in a way that can guarantee our beloved genre its existence for many decades to come. Even so, I'm quite sure that after sieving those products from the mentioned year, PHIDEAUX's "Doomsday Afternoon" will pass over the wire mesh smoothly.

I'd never heard of Phideaux Xavier and the band he formed around him until this album, with its strange and frightening cover, reached my playing set, and I liked it since the series "1, 2, 3, 4." that opens this conceptual work, soon followed by catchy piano and thunderous singing and instrumentation. Later I was grabbed by gracious vocals and a plethora of synth sounds in a manner I had never listened to in recent years. The main musical theme is repeated continuously through the entire album, acting like a mantra or a prayer - sometimes fast and ironic, sometimes tangible and meaningful. Well, the band is showing their view of the world's fate, don't they?

First Act: the opening track, 'Micro deathstar' starts like mentioned previously and it functions like a summary. Everything one will hear en suite is displayed in this track but it's worthy to go beyond the touching and sarcastic I'm singing to the rain. reference that ends the song. 'The doctrine of eternal ice (I)' creates a grandiose and apocalyptical atmosphere like preparing the terrain to the soft 'Candybrain', a nice track adorned with acoustic guitars and flutes. The first 'Crumble' is gloomy and poignant and what a beautiful choir we have here! The act finishes with 'The doctrine of eternal ice (II)' that begins like a lullaby and goes strongly while guitars and keyboards take charge of the actions and the song reaches the stratosphere.

Second Act: the starting point 'Thank you for the evil' intros in a slow running pace going into a crescendo again thanks to the synthesizer intervention. 'A wasteland of memories' begins after a fine bridge from the prior track and the pungent tunes graze along this short track and continue for the second 'Crumble', that grabs you with its noticeable female vocals. 'Formaldehyde' has some folk touches and romantic colors, male/female singing looks like a kind of conversation intermediated by flute melodies, generating a fascinating atmosphere. Approaching the end you're seduced by a web of multiple and diverse sounds extremely catchy and amusing. 'Microdeath softstar', the longest track here and also the closing one, is also a summary-like of all "Doomsday Afternoon" content; here one will find almost everything played previously and may remember accurately all those memorable and alluring parts - a nice valediction, indeed.

Regressive? Derivative? Never mind, just enjoy. The issue is that after hearing "Doomsday Afternoon" I went backwards and discovered almost the entire PHIDEAUX output. I also discovered that this work is part of a trilogy and it'll be fine to listen to this trilogy as a one long suite. Ah, the rating. deservedly an excellent addition to any prog music collection.

Report this review (#156521)
Posted Tuesday, December 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars There are not many albums and performers who can provoque only positive emotions. It’s quite more frequent that you find a music more or less pleasant and no more. But sometimes you discover a real treasure – such as Phideaux –number one of the year 2007- as for me, and David Sylvian who follows –but helas that’s all. So I cannot recollect any other name which would be more important for me. Unfortunately progressive rock is not well known in our country that’s why the official release in Russia of the independent progressive music’s representative was quite a surprise for me. A pleasant one. I know many people who firmly believe that the music may be considered as really progressive only if it is intentionally complicated as for its technique and if –it’s desirable!- every track sound not less that for 10 minutes. I don’t agree with it. Very often the excessive complexity has a very bad result: it’s very boring to listen to such a music – just scarps of “look what I can do”. There are very few musicians who are able to create something that sound more than average and not to become boring be the 3th minute. In my opinion Xavier Phideaux’ music can be characterized by two words: Integrity. Variety. Quite a few musicians are able to step over genre borders, to combine skillfully different styles and – as a result- to create something unique and suitable for listening. That’s in my opinion the real transition from the prog-rock to the art-rock. But very often the album’s concept is its weak point. (Though there are very pleasant exeptions such as Doomsday Afternoon –D.A). It’s an ungrateful task to try to make the prog more popular and comprehensible to a non-specialized audience. The connoisseurs of the genre will treat with mistrust all the singers who will try to do it, subconsciously believing that is only a kind of some pop- music. And those who are not familiar with the genre will not for certain understand this music. They simply don’t want to make an effort just to feel it. I made an experiment once: I let a person whose musical preferations were opposites to mines, listen to Doomsday Afternoon. (So to say it was a girl.) I have to admit it: I didn’t expect her request to copy this record for her. “It’s hard to make music that is too prog to rock, and too rock for prog.” Phideaux’ music deserves the prefix “art” first of all for its many-sided nature. No doubt that the classics such as Peter Hammill, Ian Andersen, Peter Gabriel, influenced it but I would not compare their music with D.A. First of all, it’s Xavier Phideaux and C* - unique, many- sided, able to rethink the classic rock and to create their own music without falling into imitation. The participation of the orchestra is one of the main advantages of this record. I must say that many musicians came already to the similar decision. The last DVD concert of Dream Theater ( and I am their fan for a very long time) is the most spectacular illustration of it because their music is also interpreted by a symphonic orchestra. As for D.A. all the musical instruments are always appropriated without interfering with the general harmony. You may listen to D.A. for many times in succession and be sure to find more and more new nuances on each listen. I’ve got a lot of pleasure from the wind’s part in the The Doctrine Of Eternal Ice (Part One) the fervor as one of distinctive lines of Phideaux’ music, is clearly felt in it. And this one orchestral fragment – A Wasteland of Memories-is simply magnificent! “There is no escape…” “Formaldehyde”- I do not like to make comparisons but this music would honor even Jethro Tull, especially its first part. The second part is more aggressive and sharp with folksounding flute and violin giving way to a very modern and hard electro guitar. (Though there isn’t so much of a “hard” guitar as it was on the previous albums.) The keyboard on the foreground forces to recollect classical music and the sounding of the Italian Prog-Renaissance’s Creators. The nostalgic “Candybrain” is also a tribute to progressive music of the 70th. I’m not a big admirer of the female vocal but on D.A. it’s pertinent and in a right amount. In this connection I’d like to note a little bit gloomy “Crumble”. This record has turned out to be much softer that “Chupacabras” (“Ruffian in the Stars”), “Ghost Story” and even The Great Leap – the first part of trilogy. It’s more soft but not more light. The gloom and some ”sinisterness” of Xavier Phideaux’ performance reminds of the well known “optimist” Peter Hammill. You may not agree but, as for me, D.A. is the number one album of this year 2007. Like all the Phideaux’ works, it’s always on all my play-lists. And now I’m waiting with impatience for the last part of the trilogy started by “The Great Leap”. As for “Doomsday afternoon” – five stars! “Fear leaves a trace of something stale, A wasteland of memory of how we failed, All we need is time, all we need is time, But time’s too damned unkind.”

p.s. sorry for my english)

Report this review (#156812)
Posted Thursday, December 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Two months ago, I've first heard of this wonderful album. I read a short review saying that it is supposedly the best album of the year so far. So I decided to take the risk to order it.

The first impression was the extravagant cover and the carefully mastered booklet. The second impression was the rather pop-ish first seconds. But after the first minute these starting moment began to make sence and the wonderful mood that works itself through the whole album was already present.

Although the songs don't go into each other without a pause, they hang together in a really pleasant way. Especially the repetition of certain phrases á la I'll wait for you brings memory of previous musical moments over and over again. But the most interesting thing is that I couldn't even name one certain song from the whole CD by heart although I've listened to this CD at least 2 times a day for the last month. The reason for this is the pleasant complexity and easyness that flows through the whole album, which just makes you listen to the complete thing without wanting to skip a song. What I'm trying to say is: This is how a concept album should be! The compositions itself are absolutely wonderful. The inclusion of the orchester was really perfectly mastered. There are absolutely no unnessecary bombastic elements that are not unusual in concept albums with orchestration and the classical instruments are added to the band in an enjoyable way.

The singing is absolutely perfect! The male singers (I can't even tell when another person is singing although there are several singers listed - to me it's just one male voice and one female voice) reach the higher tones with remarkable ease and surprisingly the range also reaches to a very moody low register. The female voices are also just marvellous.

The band instrumentation is kept in the background during most of the album except for the powerful instrumental the doctrine of eternal ice (part one) where the keys really take the stage. The rest of the album is mostly dominated by voice or moody surfaces with several instruments in the balance.

Part 2 (Track 6-10) of the album mainly deals with already known musical and lyrical variations from the first part, which creates a wonderful element of where have i heard this before?. The album never gets boring even though its length exceeds the 60 minutes limit. The suspense keeps on right until there is a quite unexpected pause right before the grand finale microdeath softstar wich starts with the rhytmically unexplainably appealing 10/8 measures that leads through a musical journey of the concept right to the powerful endlines: all we need is time but time's too damned unkind. Everytime I have listened to the CD and those lines appear, I think to myself that grandious music is still alive!

It' really hard to compare Doomsday Afternoon to anything I've heard before. I guess the closest to it is probably Supper's Ready by Genesis or some stuff from the first two Nektar-albums.

Barly have I listened to an album of this calibre. This is a world-class Concept Album and a must-have for every Progressive Rock-fan out there!

Full five stars for this piece of art

Report this review (#156867)
Posted Thursday, December 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Utterly phenomenal album. Lush orchestration, beautiful harmonies, atmospheric, psychedelic, everything... Every song is great, not a single flaw in this entire record. I truly can't point out a single song over any other, because every one just adds on more to the grandiose and fantastic sound that is Doomsday Afternoon. Phideaux Xavier is a true genius. And I discovered this album thanks to this website, thanks so much!
Report this review (#158282)
Posted Thursday, January 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars A small disappointment, probably because I expected more from this album of the year 2007. The first 8 tracks are a little boring during about fourty minutes with virtually the same rythm from the drums. On this first party, we find the influence of Pink Floyd, in particular on "Thank you for the Evil" which sounds like "Wish You Were Here" on the synths. The last two tracks are better and more personnal even if they sound like Mostly Autumn with the female voice and the violins. There are also some interesting orchestral moments with French horn, clarinet and trumpet. Formaldehyde that you can listen on Progarchives is the best track of this album and i give it 4 stars. But for the entire album which i find too long, i give 3 stars. Its a good album, but under no circumstances a masterpiece.
Report this review (#158465)
Posted Sunday, January 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars By the time this was voted #1 album of the year - by various sources including friends - I had finally acquired my copy. After unworthy prospects burned me in the past, I feared it would not live up to my expectations. With apprehension, I played this allegedly resplendent disc.

Honestly, I was slow to absorb this highly-touted article of trade. I was perplexed as this commodity had not immediately reached me, and I soon began to doubt my reliable sources. In the opener - sticky tagged with the name "Micro Softdeathstar"; it seemed as if it were Gazpacho without the Salsa Verde.

Admittingly, the inclusion of a special guest in the preface was a plus. On loan from Eyestrings, Matthew Kennedy expelled benevolent vibes. He would later be munificent in other key places. Even so, his sapid bass didn't exactly bridge the gap here.

To give it to you straight, I was dumbfounded at this songs lack of depth. The drums were awfully simplistic and the beat was so sparse that it failed to even live up to a fraction of those pledges to engulf me - at least that's what I thought at first.

Obviously, this was not an album that planned to get you with the initial listen or for that matter, the hundred foremost bits in the preamble. To tell you the truth, it could be a letdown to someone like myself who read the puffery long before participating in the ballyhoo.

Notwithstanding these squawks and gripes, let's consider the highlights before any of us join the dissenting minority.

I had a sneaking suspicion that the group would eventually spackle on the layers. Twice it didn't get me. Over and above the icebreaker, "The Doctrine of Eternal Ice (Part One)" was nice, but it didn't blow me away either.

In the third movement however, "Candybrain" gives us harmonies, flutes, keyboards and guitars. It has so much that we often yearn to swoon over. Suffice to say, this should have gotten the number sequence to the safety lock that safeguards the starter pistol. In other words, this song should have led the preemptive charge.

Besides the progressive elements and the worldly influences, I can hear Simon & Garfunkel and The Beatles in this eclectic mosaic of creamy yogurt and crunchy granola.

Incidentally, the name of this virtuous psalm is quite appropriate if you transpose its lexical counterparts or to put it in plain terms; place the very last syllable in front.

Charily, the compositions continue to expand upon their market share. With "Crumble" and "The Doctrine of Eternal Ice (Part Two)", the musicianship improves throughout an upwardly mobile curve. Due to this economical advancement, I had decisively surmised at this juncture that the material was really above-average. Still, I was yet to believe the hype.

Adding salt to whatever laceration I've insensitively picked, one song is nearly repeated. We get "Crumble" in the both the fourth and eighth time-slots. The difference is mostly with an angel who rears her voice in the subsequent collapse. While it's fine to repeat useful material, each occurrence deserves its own label. When it comes down to it, these are not identical twins, and that makes it absolutely hammy for them to use the same pseudonym.

Persevering into the next phase, we're privy to criterion akin to Genesis and Jethro Tull. When they borrow, it's for the greater good. In one such example, "Thank You for the Evil" closely resembles Pink Floyd's "Hey You". When comparing the carbon-copies, the clones stand on their own as they're not entirely literal facsimiles of the laudable originals. On the other side of the mirror, "A Wasteland of Memories" demonstrates Phideaux Xavier's ability to write a motion picture score. It also shows a capacity to seamlessly integrate antithetical alloys into the manifold.

Later, "Formaldehyde" is soaked in an excursive solo from Martin Orford. Also floating in the pickle jar is a flute that's gingerly shorn from a wistful fairy-tale. For me, this visceral web of magical instruments is the climatic point of the album. Afterwards, we keep to the lofty crest. This superior grade doesn't recede until the end.

Assigned to providing last rites, "Microdeath Softstar" terminates the post meridian of Judgment Day, and it does so in the most impressive way. The reprisals contain everything that was previously missed in the crack of doom. For the record, the proscenium of this unctuous device had nowhere near as much charm. This might explain my rash decision to defy the propaganda early on. Now I'm completely onboard with the program.

For an explanation of the name behind the endgame, simply return to the commencement and read its appellation aloud. You'll find a corporation run by megalomaniacs and a weaponized space-station that does a bad impression of a moon.

While the titles of the album and songs - as well as the artwork - are a little morbid, they don't necessary pertain to bizarre psychological experiments used to channel a wormhole to hell. This does not require a terror mask or classification within the genre of survival horror - as rumored to be carried out inside the walls of Dr. West's Splatterhouse. [Unless you're from the Nintendo generation, familiar with the catalog of data cartridges for the TurboGrafx-16, or couldn't care less, this will likely require redirection to Wikipedia.]

Aside from gruesome allusions buried in the lyrics, this melodic treaty actually calls for peace. Making an allowance for context and subtleties between the lines, Doomsday Afternoon is purely meant as a deterrent to social crimes. At his worst, Xavier might have a propensity to idealism or be an alarmist with Orwellian leanings.

Supposedly, this has to do with Big Brother and an ecological crisis in the vein of Dominici's O3. It's also the central nub in a trilogy that elaborates on a concept dubbed "The Great Leap". In case you're wondering, the glorious conclusion is already in the pipeline.

Anyhow, was this powder keg for the cocktail hour all it was cracked up to be?

In retrospect, I can respond with a definitive yes; though I'm hesitating to call it best. Then again, I have a hard time promoting another album to the throne it essentially reigns over. With The Tangent around the corner, Phideaux may have landed gold by such an indiscernible difference that it could only be measured by a nanotechnologist.

No matter how it's quantified, this album is an irrefutable chartbuster - in the progressive sense. All you need is a couple tracks to warm up to; but more importantly, an eager mind to enrapture and entangle.

The violins alone are exquisite. Melded to the epics with surgical precision, they move an unwieldy payload as if it were a feather. Personally, I can now understand why so many people find the material venerable and hold it in such high regard. There is a lot to siphon and avulse from this inundated rock.

Like the seductive and acquiescent finger-trap, it's only a matter of time before you're in a bind as a result of toying around with it. Then along with the Manchurian Candidate, you too will be an indoctrinated fan who swears this authoritarian should hold that commanding spot on top.


[As the actual ionization falls between four and five stars, I doped the score with a subatomic particle and rounded to that highly positive rating.]

Report this review (#158598)
Posted Monday, January 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.5 stars

I love progarchives in that I could find great music via reviews and full-length samples. I found the song Formaldehyde quite a solid tune which brings back memories of the progressive rock movement in the seventies. When I got this album, I was blown away with the opening epic. I found it such a magnificent and accessible composition, yet I was underwhelmed by the rest of the album. After a few listens, the other songs started growing on me and ended up enjoying Doomsday Afternoon.

The music is certainly a bit pretentious, but to write a three-album concept, you need this epic sound. The music is mostly classically inspired as well as being influenced by 70s progressive rock bands. Doomsday Afternoon is mostly mid-tempo: they write some terrific mellow music as well as non-heavy music.

The album begins with Micro Deathstar. Featuring strong vocals, excellent orchestrations, great dynamics, and a perfectly natural song progression throughout its long duration. The Doctrine of Eternal Ice pt.1 starts with a silly Hallelujah style theme which unfortunately is the main theme in the album. However, the orchestration is rich and redeems that theme. Candybrain might be the least memorable track here, just a pleasant acoustically-strummed mellow tune with nice harmonies. However, it transitions into a tiny piece that is so gorgeous that you'll most likely feel goosebumps and stop what you are currently doing. That piece is the instrumental Crumble , featuting a piano theme that will pull emotional strings. Crumble is much needed after a dip in quality after the glorious opening track. The second part of The Doctrine of Eternal Ice continues the high-quality trend by being superior to the first part in every way, including that theme I do not like, but it almost fits here. Part 2 has a grandiose sound that fully harmonized; it is a great example of what Symphonic Rock means.

The second half starts with Thank You For The Evil , a mellow and quasi-psychedelic number with synthesizer sounds used by German band Eloy. As a matter of fact, this song sounds similar to the typical late 70s Eloy sound while having the elements of Phideaux. A Wasteland of Memories introduces itself with a familiar vocal melody of an earlier track and builds un into beautiful orchestration. To make things better, Crumble comes back, this time with more grand piano and female vocals. It is just as good as the previous version of it, if not better. Formaldehyde comes next, the song I was familiar with when I bought this album. Unfortunately, I feel that it is somewhat out of place in the album. This song emphasizes the moog synthesizer and has a bit more punch than the other tracks. The problem I have with this track is that it is a bit quirky for my tastes near the end and that bloody main theme is used a lot. Do not get me wrong, it is still a good track and has some fantastic symphonic parts. The closer Microdeath Softstar , which is the longest track in the album, does not disappoint. It mixes the grandiose power of a song like The Doctrine of Eternal Ice pt.2 with a dramatic instrumental section in the middle.

This is really a very good album that is enjoyable and easy to listen to at the same time. Recommended to all Symphonic Prog lovers.

Report this review (#159456)
Posted Monday, January 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the most rewarding aspects of some 21st century progressive rock music offerings is found in hearing the way many of the newer artists weave tapestries of sound utilizing various influences of the genre's greats of yesteryear. Phideaux is an excellent example of this honorable technique. Encouraged by numerous favorable and oftentimes exuberant reviews of the apocalyptic- themed "Doomsday Afternoon" found on this very site, I sprung for the CD and sat back to see what the fuss was about. I wasn't disappointed.

First of all I must point out that leader Phideaux Xavier's pleasing voice is an interesting blend of David Bowie, Peter Gabriel and Roger Hodgson to my ear and decent vocals are always a big determining factor in whether I'll like new music or not. The impressive opening song, "Micro Softdeathstar," begins as an eclectic ditty that jogs along without commitment until a violin leads to a droning segment with haunting yet quite effective vocal lines. The lyrics aren't bad but they are definitely surreal and obtuse more often than not so I have to claim a certain amount of apathy to their exact meaning. The tune has a broad depth of field and it's always refreshing to detect the presence of a female voice in prog. It also features skillful usage of real orchestration and the changes in feel and tempo come in quick succession, keeping things from getting stale. The instrumental "The Doctrine of Eternal Ice (Part One)" follows and it rocks pretty well as it combines piano, synthesizers and brass over a tight rhythm section. One of my complaints with the group Salem Hill is the old, outdated ARP keyboard sounds they insist on using and I have the same gripe here. The reedy timbre detracts rather than adds to the ambience and there are much better options to explore, it would seem. But that's just me.

The acoustic guitar-driven "Candybrain" is next and it showcases Phideaux's admirable ability to create memorable melodies and arrange them tastefully around each other. No legitimate musical instrument seems to be off limits to these guys and they even find inventive ways to include group handclaps here. What follows is one of the album's many highlights, the instrumental "Crumble." The simple piano performing a beautiful melody over a flowing symphonic score makes this number shine brightly. "The Doctrine of Eternal Ice (Part Two)" ensues and reintroduces the song's central piano theme as the group continues to manipulate intriguing chord progressions and brief musical sections throughout. A palpable but respectful Pink Floyd influence pervades "Thank You for the Evil" with its ominous drum beat layered over pulsating bass notes. The engaging song builds steadily with the help of massive acoustic guitar chords and sharp, penetrating vocal lines.

Things then segue into the too short but nonetheless superb symphonic piece, "A Wasteland of Memories" that, with its soaring female vocalist (unfortunately non-specified in the credits), is almost operatic in its scope. A welcome return to the gorgeous melody of "Crumble" is next but this time the lady's singing voice makes it even better than the first go-round. It's a thing of beauty and you'll be hard pressed to find a prettier tune in all of progdom. Flutes, violin and acoustic guitars give "Formaldehyde" a striking and lively prog folk atmosphere that lifts the mood at this juncture. It eventually grows to be a rocker of sorts but my second beef arises here with the introduction of a thin fuzz tone electric guitar that should have been dropped out of the mix. It nearly spoils what otherwise is a quality song. "Microdeath Softstar" is the 15-minute finale and, although it starts out in a promising way with spacey organ chords leading to a hypnotic drum pattern and some boisterous orchestration, it eventually drops into an amateurish, ho-hum rock & roll guitar riff that causes the momentum to suffer at a crucial point in the proceedings. Phideaux recovers somewhat by tacking on a subtle, effective coda but I can't help feeling that a golden opportunity to blow the listener's mind and to plop a cherry on this delicious sundae was missed.

I hope I haven't given the impression that this isn't a very good CD because it is and deserves your consideration. The variety of imaginative ideas that appear throughout are entertaining and often downright delightful and I sense that Mr. Xavier could be on the verge of becoming a major player in the prog world for years to come. "Doomsday Afternoon" is a little too inconsistent for me to call it a "must-have masterpiece" but if you're looking for an album that's unlike anything else in your current collection then by all means dive in. You could do a whole lot worse. 3.8 stars.

Report this review (#160598)
Posted Saturday, February 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Is this part two of the Great Leap?

When I'm looking for a Masterpiece when it comes to albums, this is what is needed. Doomsday Afternoon is the poster child for a masterpiece. All the songs on the album are beyond beautiful, the collaboration from one song to the next are flawless, and most importantly, the album is much more then just outstanding songs one after another. There's a system, there's a theme, a mood, a concept. This is what is needed when it comes to a masterpiece, and this album executes it perfectly.

I know, already writing this out, I'm going to be repeating myself quite a lot by saying everything on this album is beautiful, or masterfully crafted. So I won't be writing out 10 times for each song, since each and every song on this album is beautiful and masterfully crafted. I love the fact that this album is broken up into two parts, it makes the album feel as though it's on an LP player. But each act is balanced off, act one starting with a 10+ minuet song and act two ending with one.

One aspect that makes this an instant masterpiece is the reuse of great riffs and sounds. A perfect example of this is 'The Doctrine of Eternal Ice' parts 1 and 2, and even 'Crumble'. This aspect of re-using sounds transience the album from 10 great songs in a row to a complete album. This could very easily be one grand song divided by two parts. Each song is not completely unique to the album or the other songs, but the album as a whole is entirely unique and a treat to the ears.

There really isn't much else to say about this album. It is essential to at least hear this album once through if you're a progressive fan. This was good enough to receive my 'one year anniversary review' to this sight, so that should be enough to depict it. There really is no draw back to this album that I can see..and I've looked. I've been very careful not to rate albums as masterpieces unless they absolutely deserve it, and this one deserves it.

5 well earned stars.

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Posted Monday, March 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
5 stars Combining a healthy respect for early pioneers of prog with a modern sensibility, Phideaux has produced a work that surpasses most of his inspiration in terms of listenability, songwriting, vocals, and arranging. "Doomsday Afternoon" is nothing if not eclectic, with its compelling mix of folk, progressive and space rock with a thematically classical sensibility that never wavers for 60+ minutes. It is enjoyable from the first listen, but continues to impress over the long haul.

The opener "Micro SoftDeathStar" really lays it all out in its 11 minutes: plaintive vocals, orchestration, sparkling melodies, and a sense of foreboding that never oppresses. The changes of pace are crisp and purposeful without being jarring, and many of the themes we will hear later are introduced here both lyrically and musically. Phideaux is part Al Stewart like raconteur and part Roger Waters' doomsayer, uniting the yin and yang, and his use of several female singers in both lead and supporting roles adds further depth in that department. The fact that they are actually singing words also places "Doomsday Afternoon" at an advantage over those who would have them simply wail away like sirens or banshees. "The Doctrine of Eternal Ice Part 1" is a brief but potent instrumental with both piano and synthesizer to the fore, reminding me of some of Eloy's best work, which is a comparison I can't help making here and there. Even if Phideaux was not directly inspired by the German band, the point of reference holds, but I think his more tasteful approach would have a wider appeal on this site than Frank Bornemann's group. "Candybrain" is an acoustic oriented song that plays like a folk anthem but with greater complexity. The dystopian story line is really driven home here, but never at the sacrifice of musicality, which includes well placed flute and hand claps. "Crumble Part 1" introduces one of the most memorable tunes of the work, this time instrumentally, mostly on piano with the backing of other keyboards. "The Doctrine of Eternal Ice Part 2" is an 8 minute piece that really closes out "Side 1" if you will. It builds up from a slow plodding meditation to a vitriolic, but never harsh, rant before calming down into a gentler return to earlier themes. One of my favourite aspects of this disk is how it conveys so much power without needing to resort to anything approaching hard rock or metallic histrionics

"Thank you for the Evil" is probably the most overtly Floydian track (more "The Wall" era than anything), with an Alan Parsons Project type vibe as well. It also reminds me of Quebecois Daniel Gauthier's excellent album "Above the Storm". The track is repetitive in all the right ways, hypnotic even, and you will be hard pressed to avoid repeating some of the more dramatic parts in your mind's studio. "A Wasteland of Memories" is a beautiful and brief orchestral piece, followed by the vocal version of "Crumble". A certain creativity is revealed in the vocal interpretation of the sweet melody. The backing is identical to part 1; in fact this version is exactly the same length. Introduced by mellow flute and other accompaniment, "Formaldehyde" is one of the strongest and prettiest songs on the disk, with a very folk like structure in which the flute weaves about. The intensity picks up about halfway through, with some fine harmonies and interplays. The closer, "Microdeath Softstar", is the longest track and forms an excellent recapitulation of the various themes previously introduced, including those on "Candybrain". The orchestra is prominent here, and in particular the stringed instruments shine, but the vocalists also work their magic in tandem and solo.

I don't have any trouble rating this one 5 stars, and pointing out the irony that, with albums like this, doomsday for sensitive yet powerful progressive rock may be much farther off than we could have dreamed.

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Posted Sunday, March 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars If there is music in heaven then this must be it! For me this record is an angel for my ears. With great voices, violins, and beautifull compositions and melodies this is a must have! This record is impressing over and over again and never gets bored anywhere. There is no hair on my head wich think this can be rated less then 5 stars. An absolute masterpiece for progressive and sympho addicts.
Report this review (#173421)
Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
The T
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars PHIDEAUX is one of the best modern progressive-rock albums I've heard in quite a while.

The greatest thing about the music in this album is the fact that it's never ashamed to be full-blown progressive-rock, from the long songs to the unusual structures to the instrumental sections and the displays of technique, "Doomsday Afternoon" is as honest a prog-rock album as any.

And that's made even clearer by the constant references to the past that we hear when the disc is spinning. The influence of bands like GENESIS, VAN DER GRAF GENERATOR or JETHRO TULL is pretty evident from the beginning to the end of the album, particularly of the first one mentioned. Another shadow from the 70's that looms big over PHIDEAUX's music is without a doubt PINK FLOYD's. One could say that "Doomsday Afternoon", in a way, pays homage to many artists of a long past decade.

But at the same time, the music never sounds old or totally retro. The music is modern, with hints and touches of more avant sounds and also many passages when the influence of modern bands can be felt. One can distinguish neo-prog references here, PORCUPINE TREE touches there, and even bands from different sonic worlds like space-rock/metal legend AYREON seem to have marked Phideaux Xavier, the mastermind behind this music. All of these influences are blended into one very coherent whole to create a very unique sound, which sounds new yet also old, which takes us to the future but also drives us back to the past.

The music is melodic, very melodic, but harmony, rhythm and technique receive special treatment, too. The long songs usually have extended instrumental sections of various different characters. The musicianship here is outstanding. The various females singers add a touch of beauty to Xavier's quite ironic and dry vocals; the man himself in the piano and the guitar never ceases to create beautiful arrangements, and his various partners fit the music perfectly, the bass player being a perfect example. Add several non-traditional-rock instruments to the mix (flute, strings) and what we get is an experience of the highest caliber.

PHIDEAUX has really surprised me. There's no question that this was one of the best albums of its year, and a modern masterpiece, worthy of 5 stars.

Report this review (#178431)
Posted Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars It seems that a lot of reviewers discovered Phideaux with this release. It got five times more ratings than any of the other albums he released. At last, he made a remarked entry on PA.

I am always careful with his albums because they go from brilliant ("Chupacabras", "Ghost Story") to extremely poor ("Friction"). Fortunately, this one is more on the good side.

I am not a huge enthusiast about orchestrations, but I have to admit that these are discreet enough here; they are just sustaining the band and are playing mostly in the background; which is fine with me.

This concept album is best experienced when listened from A to Z, and it is a very enjoyable record all the way through even if my preferences go to the great opening song "Micro Deathstar". This is a fantastic voyage into the "Phideaux" world for eleven minutes. The highlight.

It is true to say that Floyd influences are many (especially the keyboards) but maybe it is due to the fact that I am thinking to Richard these days (RIP). "Thank You For The Evil" is the most Floydian of all sounding very much as SOYCD. It is another beautiful song.

Not all pieces from this album are pure magic (otherwise, it would have been a masterpiece). The pastoral and folkish "Formaldehyde" is too mellowish for this. It could have been featured on a "Mostly Autumn" album with no problem. The same applies here as well: the second part of the song is more upbeat and features a fine.keys work (instead of guitar on lots of MA track).

It is a bit of a pity that this album is not consistently strong. It started brilliantly, but the second half is weaker IMHHO. The epic and closing song won't help: it is a summary of this album and features the same influences: Floyd and folk. Doomsday Afternoon remains a good album, just shy of the four star rating.

Report this review (#182974)
Posted Saturday, September 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This one is difficult to rate. There is no denying Phideaux's brilliance, songwriting ability and orchestrations, as well as his prolific output. This, however, is not enough to land this album 5 stars. The journey is a pleasant one and the listener's interest is held throughout. The themes are well developed musically. Lyrically it holds together. The feel is that this album should have been 1 epic song, since that is the way it plays both literally and figuratively as there is no break between most of the pieces.

So then, why not 5? Although I have thoroughly enjoyed the album with every listen there seems to be a lack of dynamics that should accompany this work. The opener, micro softdeathstar is the closest thing to an epic listen but fails to contain any one passage that generates any real anticipation. Although all of the songs are very good and well done, there is not a single one that I would buy the album for. There is a certain sameness or relatedness that fails to sufficiently move me. Maybe this was by design. I appreciate the nuanced nature of the songs, but do not feel compelled to relisten to any particular song. On any album that titilates, there is at least one song, or a few, that reach you on an emotional level, at least in spots. I never got that here.

This may be the basis of a great broadway play, as some of the songs remind me of such music. Crumble for instance somehow calls up memories of The Fantastiks (go figure). Beautifully sung, pretty melody, an interesting song, but made for the theatre. Accessability is a good thing, but I think this work would have been better served with the occasional harder edge, especially since its theme is so dark and message so foreboding. I would definitely pay to see Doomsday Afternoon as a musical, and maybe give it 5 stars in that format, but as an album its a 4. However, I fully expect that Phideaux will give us more than a few 5's in the near future.

Report this review (#188910)
Posted Wednesday, November 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A great leap

After releasing 5 albums to a fairly small audience, Phideaux has finally opened the flood gates and overwhelmed the progressive community with the release of his opus, Doomsday Afternoon. The album is the second installment in a trilogy to be finished early next year with the release of Infernal, which at this point the entire progressive community will be on the edge of their seats for. This sixth album by the ten-person band is a testament to everything that has been done well in progressive rock over the years, and with a massive sound backed by a full orchestra (Phideaux claims this is the album's gimmick) it is a truly impressive experience to behold. After the first part of the trilogy, the song powered Great Leap, Phideaux has decided to move in a direction of using full blown song cycles, even turning the album into a definitive Act I and Act II. Since the songs move, flow and segue into one another the album is naturally a lot less approachable than other discs in the band's catalog, but once you get into this album there's no getting out, and you'll be doomed to play it at least once a day for a very long time.

What makes the album so impressive is not only the fully fleshed out sounds, or the true-to-the-classics (without sounding too retro) keyboards, it's the the massive emotional pulls that can 'erk' you every single time you hear the album. Phideaux himself has a very unique voice, and coupled with a number of backing counterparts the music can become very ethereal, haunting and lovely. A Gothic, ghostly ballroom sound is present throughout the entire album and if the moods don't strike you then you must be a robot (which apparently has not been hugged for some time). Small instrumental segments can bring the overall tone of the album to very sentimental at any given time, or can turn it into something highly malevolent in an instant's notice. Transitional tracks like the creepy Doctrine Of Eternal Ice Part I and both tracks titled Crumble are prime examples of how the album can be so wickedly dynamic while staying to the constraints of a solid song-cycle concept album.

Of course it's the long songs which are really the prime focus on the album. There's a number of lengthy tunes on the album and each one of them is a specimen of incredible detail and intricacies. The album opens with the excellent Micro Softdeathstar and ends with the amazing Mircodeath Softstar, two songs who thematically fit together like puzzle pieces and bookend the album with an excellent amount of grace. Stellar playing throughout makes for that emotional roller coaster. Unforgettable lyrical lines also sparkle the tunes (''All we need is time, but time's too damn unkind'' memorably finished the disc) and make for a couple of very moving moments. Other songs contained within the album are also able to pull off similar effects with excellent results. Candybrain is one of the songs which helps to start off and develop the themes which are later reprised most excellently in later songs, and The Doctrine Of Eternal Ice Part II is a stunning and evil conclusion to the piece which helped open the album.

There's two songs in the middle of the album that are likely the centerpiece of the composition above anything else. First off is the single, Thank You For The Evil is a fantastic piece which brings in all the elements of previous songs and works as one of the final keys to the overall success along with the amazing, yet short, orchestral masterpiece that is A Wasteland Of Memories which sounds as though it could have been taken from Chris Squire's solo album Fish Out Of Water if it was first fed through a black hole, warped to a separate dimension and turned evil by the forces of darkness. Yeah, it's that cool.

The song which everything leads up to, however, is easily the standout and the main reason for owning the album. Formaldehyde is simply incredible, and clocking in at 8-minutes, ripe with keyboards, flutes and singing that could bring the most stone cold of men to tears. Simply sublime from start to finish and that's not something easily said about many songs, likely the only other song that could be said about is Squire's Silently Falling, which has a very similar build and play off emotions as this song, although this one features a rather quirky breakdown nearing the end.

A divinely perfect album, although it will take a lot more listens than one to gain the appreciation for this album needed for it to have its full effect. Be patient, good proggers, it will come. For now, this album must receive a blistering 5 out of 5 for the kind of listen which only comes around once in a blue moon and puts a lot of other releases to shame. Don't be fooled, this is the definitive release of 2007, and make sure you have it - it's an absolute essential.

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Posted Wednesday, November 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars As the quantity and consistency of reviews on this website attest, Doomsday Afternoon is not only Phideaux's strongest and most mature album, but it also is quite possibly the strongest and most mature prog album released in 2007.

Phideaux's albums are all category unique from one another, with some focusing on psychedelic sounds, others on something near gothic metal, and others straightforward singer-songwriter pop tunes. Doomsday Afternoon is more or less his symphonic prog release, combining a sort of neo-prog simplicity with the subtle and complex depths a la Camel or Pink Floyd. The main aspect of the difference is this: unlike previous Phideaux albums, this one features orchestra throughout. Do not make the mistake, however, of assuming that this is merely neo-prog plus an orchestra. Rather, this is as full blown and bombastic as it gets, while somehow some earthy quality of the songwriting and performance keeps it from suffering from that sense of pretentious pomp that a large number of prog band plus orchestra albums tend to assume. I believe it has something to do with Phideaux's own vocals not sounding like the traditional bombast of a progressive rock lead singer. Xavier and the other singers do not exploit technical proficiency but rather aim for a sort of homey vibe with their lyrics, delivering environmentalist messages with the humility of just a friend or concerned neighbor. And while highly bombastic vocals oftentimes are quite fun and engaging, Doomsday Afternoon's lack of such works very strongly in its favor. Do not expect an adrenaline-fueled rampage of solos and instrumental sections--those are not at all the focus on this one (Chupacabras probably is more up that alley).

The album opens with Micro Softdeathstar, clearly a tongue-in-cheek reference to the international computer and electronics manufacturers. This song, while standing alone plenty nicely, more forms a prologue, a teaser of the themes that will occur throughout the album. The orchestra kicks into high gear when the vocals are not there, and on the whole the tune sets a slightly gothic, creepy vibe to the album, while still somehow coming across as upbeat and mellow. The first part of The Doctrine of Eternal Ice segues perfectly smoothly from Micro Softdeathstar, introducing a good bit more high-energy melody and some distorted guitar. This is the album's first real moment of exciting pacing. It serves as a quick and airy instrumental to lead into the next track. Candybrain is a highly gothic track, featuring a very dark mood and a sense of foreboding. The female vocals play well with Phideaux's light voice, calming the album down just in time for Crumble. The first occurrence of the song is instrumental, built on thick orchestration, piano, and some wordless female vocals in the background. The melody is beautiful and stunning, though it is not quite as impressive as its second coming will be. The last song of the first part is The Doctrine of Eternal Ice (Part Two), and the downbeat mellowness that came off the tail of Crumble begins to build back up to something less dark. Do not expect a rehash of the first part, as even though the melodies and sections are mostly referenced here, they are much more laid back and dark. There are some vocals, and unhappy ones at that, but for the most part this is also instrumental. A lot of electronic sounds are present on this track, like in Candybrain. Slowed down from its first part, the complexities of the melodies really come to the forefront.

The second part starts on a very dark, somewhat Floydian tone as well with Thank You for the Evil. A slow drone and steady drumming build this song towards some upbeat acoustic guitar. The sound then drops off, fronted by some jazzy bass guitar, and Phideaux himself enters with the vocals. The music grows progressively darker here, and eventually becomes a heavy sort of creepy. By the end, there is a gentle if synthetic keyboard solo of sorts, and then it slowly winds to a close, not really having done much of changing over its nine minute length--a technique that sounds boring at first, but in the end, makes the song much more powerful and evocative. A Wasteland of Memories opens with a spoonful of cinematic orchestra. Xavier's light and here somewhat cheerful vocals pop in and break up the intense melody. It is essentially a transition track, being much more lighthearted (relatively speaking, of course) than the tracks before it and after it. Following then is the second Crumble, this time mostly just piano and a lovely female voice. Something about both the simplicity and the earnestness of this song make it an emotional climax to the album. Not necessarily downbeat or dark, it is simply a song of regrets and sadness. Thankfully, however, the second part of the album finally finds its upbeat element in Formaldehyde. This is the most exciting and upbeat the music has been since the first part of The Doctrine of Eternal Ice. Parts of it, naturally, are more quiet and gentle than others, but for example, the ending features, one of the only drum fills on the entire release. And, finally, the album closes in epic, dramatic fashion with Microdeath Softstar, the fifteen minute climax and conclusion. It mirrors in a lot of ways its cousin that opens the album. Strong orchestra presence, a reprisal of many of the main themes, and an emotionally sung finale draw this album to its sad but worthwhile ending.

This album is something of a fusion of neo-prog, symphonic prog, psychedelic rock, and singer-songwriter, but the only thing you really need to take away from it is the sheer quality of both the complex moments and the simple ones. Phideaux topped himself ten times over with Doomsday Afternoon, and even though he has been making progressive music for fifteen years, this is his breakthrough into the mainstream prog community.

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Posted Tuesday, December 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I was late getting on the Phideaux bandwagon phenomenon, somehow never getting around to sampling some of his much vaunted material. The comments from the prog community certainly dispensed a fair amount of reverence and awe which I was itching to get to taste, the Phideaux myspace site exciting even more my sensibilities by the avowed comment from the artist that Roxy Music is a major influence in his songwriting , adding even more flavor to the Floydian aroma of his musical style. Well "Doomsday Afternoon" certainly has all the goods to make this a stellar addition to any collection. In fact, this is some of the best US prog ever with some passionate inspiration, clever spinning and weaving melodies tugged along by some splendid orchestrations, as expressed by the majestic opener "micro softdeathstar", a whopping 11 minute epic that emphatically states from the outset that this is serious stuff indeed. The focus here is on the overall package, so there is little soloing "chopzilla", as Phideaux concentrates on delivering multiple subtleties both lyrically and musically, the voice displaying the romantic slant of a Bryan Ferry /David Bowie though completely different in tone and delivery . "the doctrine of eternal ice pt 1" is a rollicking organ blitzed piece full of trumpet-led symphonics that clearly show the sheer progressive veneer, delicately ornate piano adding a little class and grandeur. "candybrain" continues in a more pastoral vein, with insinuations of folkier acoustics and a very English feel, sublime vocals combine with the simple flute/oboe/guitar arrangement, coming close to the Strawbs territory. The brief "crumble" is drenched in some serious psychedelic melancholia, dreamy piano and wailing background voices evoking some distant reflection in time and of space. Breathtaking stuff, really, I am so impressed upon first listen! Part 2 of "the doctrine." stretches out even more exponentially for over 8 minutes , female vocals seducing the rhythm while increasing the fervor, suave synthesizers smiling, drums keeping time and Phideaux' nasal vocal wailing unashamed. As delicious a ride as it has been up to this point in the record, the core moment here is the fabulously moody "thank you for the evil", a scintillating 9 minute groove piece that flutters along bold and cocky, a simple beat with loads of synth variations, heavy Manzanera/Eno persuasions and some incredible angst-laden lead vocals, all set to a clearly Floydian sonic expanse. This is prog heaven, a melodic yet dark journey into a comfort zone where the mood reigns supreme. "a wasteland of memories" is a short ditty that reflects orchestral colorations over plaintive male and female vocals, violins ablaze. "crumble" returns again for another visit , led by that magical piano before diving into another two masterstrokes , the stunning "formaldehyde" and the closing epic variation on the opener , "microdeath softstar" ,exhibiting a rather truculent sense of humor and detail that cannot go unnoticed. The former track features the talented Martin Orford of IQ fame on synths, a brooding pastoral flute intro gently guides the arrangement , giving politely way to another superb violin solo courtesy of Matthew Parmenter of Discipline fame and an outright proto-Brit prog-folk female vocal theme that exudes charm and substance, as the melodies are robust and memorable. The soloing rages on in a familiar Tull/Mostly Autumn mould that elevates the spiraling crescendo also tosses in a few quirky vocal twists, playful outro not withstanding. The massive 14 minute plus extravaganza lets the curtain fall with unflinching genius and creativity, as a slow, gloomy synth wash sweeps across the horizon, a dashing Hammond B3 suddenly jumping into the fray as drums, bass and orchestrations kick in ceremoniously to join in the mayhem. At times and especially here, Phideaux' vocals have an almost David Cousins-like nasal twang that is most impressive, in fact easily drawing comparisons with the fabulous British artist Guy Manning or as our finnforest so succintly and correctly identifies, Al Stewart. The piece throws in some deft soloing, as rhythm guitars riff solidly, the synths firing on all cylinders, the drums rifling neatly and the singing falling into almost The Cure-like tonalities. The Phideaux recipe obviously contains such a wide variety of influences , from some of the more creative and luminary artists of the past, cooking up a personal brew that combines psychedelia, space, folk, alternative, art- rock, gothic and groove that cannot be dismissed as pastiche, as the spirit of the artist remains very pristine and clear. I have rarely been so impressed by a recording, a definite winner that screams out for even more recognition. I guess I need to delve into his past catalog as the man is prolific. 5 chupacabras
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Posted Saturday, December 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars I don't share opinions of the majority in an appreciation of this album. In my opinion music monotonous, tiresome, absolutely flat and uninteresting. Yes, music arrangements at high level. Unfortunately this only thing that deserves though any praise.

In my opinion, the basis for an album - "Tales Of Mystery And Imagination" - the well-known album of group "The Alan Parsons Project", but Alan Parsons is much more qualitative, without pomposity and pathos. It is strange that so secondary album has deserved such appreciation. Moreover, sometimes music reminds music to the Hollywood cartoon film.

It not that music which should be held in the collection.

Report this review (#192301)
Posted Monday, December 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
5 stars Unconditionally excellent on almost every level, Phideaux makes this review one of the easiest I've ever done; the songwriting, performances, lyrical content, and wellcrafted feel of the album shout out masterpiece within moments of its opening note.

Doomsday Afternoonblends classic/neo symphonic prog with elements of folk and pure orchestra-- mixing them with a rousing feel that simultaneously honors and elevates just about everything that has ever been good about progressive rock. There is truly something for everyone here, and it's all excellent: big melodies, delicate soundscapes, orchestrals interludes, poignant male and female vocals, moody atmosphere, and the occasional outburst of modern guitar rock. Pure class from start to finish.

Essential progressive listening; a masterpiece of the collective genre!

Songwriting: 5 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 5 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Report this review (#213962)
Posted Tuesday, May 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Flawless. I usually swim in the shallow pond of avant-RIO pool but occasionally I experiment with artists who are not familiar to me from other genres. I found out about Phideaux with his "The Great Leap" release in 2006. To my ears it was mildly interesting but nothing to write home about. When he subsequently released the "Doomsday Afternoon" I took my time and did not jump in with the fan-boys. After reading the comments on this site I decided to take the plunge (sorry. continuing on the pool theme). Lo and behold I now became a fan-boy for Phideaux myself.

Doomsday Afternoon is different then all of his other 5 previous albums (yes I did buy them all. Didn't I say fan-boy).The difference of Doomsday afternoon compared to his other releases is not in the style of the music but in its maturity, structural completeness, and sound texture. In this record he mixes the output of his rather large group (10 individuals) with an orchestra in an extremely skilful manner that would put many of the classical musicians to shame. Although in his writings he sometimes refers to the orchestra as the "pesky orchestra" his skill in orchestration is surprising.

First of all although there are 10 song names listed at the back of the album it really is a single coherent piece of music. Can you imagine trying to pick a song from "Thick as a brick" or the "Passion Play" and only play that song and not the rest? It just will not work. Will it now. Well the same holds true for the Doomsday afternoon too. You must hear the whole thing in one sitting.

After arguing that the record cannot be broken down to is pieces I obviously will not go a head and review the CD song by song. It will suffice to say that it deserves five stars from someone like me who doles out five stars rarer then tooth in a hen.

I must make a special mention of the ladies of the group. First of all four members of the 10 are females of which I think three sing along with Phideaux. One of them has a very unique voice and he manages to bland her voice very skillfully with the other two resulting in harmonies that will give a poor soul goose bumps. You must understand, this has not always been the case in his past five records. Again it is one of those things that suddenly changed in this record and made it a one of a kind, flawless masterpiece.

If you have not heard it yet do not hesitate as I did. Enjoy.

Report this review (#214746)
Posted Sunday, May 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Truth
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars Even on first listen to this album, I knew this was something special! Phideaux creates an atmosphere on this album which I have never heard before! Although it gives nods to various classic prog bands, Phideaux manages to keep his own unique sound, which to me is a mix of Pink Floyd and VDGG with some Baroque pop mixed in. But now about the album, He starts off pretty dang wonderfully with Micro Softdeathstar which sounds so beautiful, "Is it too much for you too soon?" The Doctrine of Eternal Ice Part 1 is a nice instumental the start reminding me of Any Colour You Like but eventually turns into it's own masterpiece. Candybrain is a nice track that blends the acoustic guitar and keyboards extremely well, creating a very catchy tune. Crumble is just plain beautiful piano work and Part 2 of Doctrine of Eternal Ice is Phideaux at his lyrical and musical best. Thank You For the Evil is a track that almost sums up Act 1 and starts introducing Act 2 and it stays with the same feel that Doctrine of Eternal Ice Part 2 had. A Wasteland of Memories for some reason seems out of place to me, but I get the feeling it's definately there for a reason so it's no-biggie. The second Crumble is as beautiful as the first, only this one has excellent vocals in it. Formaldyhyde sounds a lot like Thank You For the Evil, so it's a good track too, and Microdeath Softstar is a very dramatic ending to this excellent album. Phideaux has definately made something beautiful with this one, I must say. Do listen and see for yourself.
Report this review (#230589)
Posted Saturday, August 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Not much to say that hasn't been said, but this is so good I will write my first review. One of my friends sent me a clip of "Formaldehyde" from youtube to check out. I knew that I liked it and it was a breath of fresh air, but had no idea the treat that was in store for me. This album is a masterpiece of modern prog. To me this is a top 5 prog album of the decade. The musical themes are all strong. The album does a good job of revisiting and developing common themes time and time again. Everything is beautifully crafted and architected. The "Crumble" theme is beautiful and makes my hairs stand on end. As far as musicianship goes there are no impressive solos and nothing that will blow you away, but everything is played competently. To me this album is a true example of an "ALBUM".. every song is enhanced by being in the overall picture of the album itself... there is no dead weight that pulls this album down. The lyrics mean nothing to me, as prog lyrics seldom do, but they do not detract from the music. This is like a classic Pink Floyd album in spirit. While it does not have anything like Gilmour's soloing, it has a wonderful cohesive feeling to it. A true gem.
Report this review (#232345)
Posted Tuesday, August 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
Italian Prog Specialist
5 stars I find it hard not to get a kick out of this album. When music is this powerful, melodic, orchestrated and honest I find it hard to not feel anything when listening. In fact, I feel a lot of things. Joy, sorrow, peace, despair all form a sort of emotional primordial soup that just touches you deeply, naturally and unavoidably. It's my honest opinion that the 70s band that tried a somewhat similar "emotional" approach (think Camel, Pink Floyd are all put to shame by Doomsday Afternoon. In order not to lose all my credibility at this point, it must be said that I've never been a big fan of either of the bands mentioned, but also that Phideaux and his musician friends really manage to do something stunning here. The beating heart of all these rich, colourful tapestries have to be something new and unique - at least for me.

The music is towering, pompous and generally brim-filled with riches; the obvious climactic orchestrations, applied with pin-point accuracy to achieve maximum emotional impact. Synthesisers burst out of the compositions as rays of light (or compact darkness). Layered vocals, from several vocalists and profound, melodious flurries from all the instruments involved. All in all it creates this epic, unfathomable atmosphere, beyond and above all of us. Comparisons to film scores are hard to deny.

But then on the other hand, there are these contrasting pieces, with nothing but vocals, some strummed guitar or chord work and a lone or a few nimble melodies. More in line with indie/alternative- or singer/songwriter-territory. Exposed, but not naked. And there are great, heavier bits where the guitar is actually rocking and where the organ is let loose to rumble for a bit. It feels down-to-earth, personal and honest; respites where you can identify and return to the individual instead of being locked in that great scheme of things.

Where Doomsday Afternoon finds its power is in the schism of these two distinct parts. A sort of musical conflict that creates immense dynamic power when one flows into the other, but even more so when they all blend into one massive Juggernaut of modern prog.

If you're looking for the best of classic prog teamed up with the best of modern sensibilities and haven't checked out Phideaux, this is where you should find it. If you want more in-depth info on what's really waiting inside Doomsday Afternoon, look for the other reviews. There are loads of them. In the meantime, this should get you salivating.

5 stars. Unquestionably.


Report this review (#232379)
Posted Wednesday, August 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I read plenty of good reviews for Phideaux, so I think I will disappoint many fans by my opinion.

I want to start from declaration, that I am not a huge fun of orchestrated rock (or sympho-rock), even average King Crimson album for me is much better than the best Yes album. Another thing-I don't like neo-prog too much, because of it secondary music. So, may be this position is the reason why I am not happy too much with this album and Phideaux in common.

I listened few early albums and found there ... how to say .... pop-rock in prog clothes. And even not very orininal one, but mix of some classical citates.

About this, new album: it's better than earlier works. Now the sound is more like sympho-neo- prog. In some moments I hear pure Kansas violin pieces, other moments remind me some Pink Floyd harmonies and vocals. But both together - average sound quality, technicaly no bad,sometimes with small interesting ideas - but absolutely nothing I didn't heard 30 yrs ago!

How I understand, some progheads are very happy to listen talented imitators of classic prog from 70-th. So, I prefer originals. May be it's a reason of my low mark, but there in 21 st century are many more interesting musicians with 21-st century music ideas.

Report this review (#236258)
Posted Tuesday, September 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars At one point, I had an extensive review written for Doomsday Afternoon, which I had saved on Microsoft Word. Then, as I read it , hoping to edit it down to something less than twelve thousand words (just kidding, it was barely over 9000), I saw that I could really boil it down to these few phrases.

First, the only thing that I enjoyed or found interesting on this album was playing guess who played this before.

Example - "so this is what Roger Hodgson would have sounded if Supertramp had gone full blown symphonic". Indeed, in a few spots I couldn't help but think about Fool's Overture. Or Floydian space rock on Thank you for the evil. Or Zep's Kashmir - The main motif in Doctrine of Eternal Ice pt I & II ; then I hear Tony Banks keyboards all over the place, even to the point of my placing them in the different eras or albums.

Does the songwriting, the songs themselves outweigh this annoying cloning ?

I come back to my second sentence - the only thing I got out of this music was trying to remember where else I'd heard it before. And go listen to that instead.

As competent as this may be, I give it a 1. Once upon a time, I would delude myself that competence in & of itself merited a 3 - meaning it was good.

No more, eh.

And unfortunately, Spin-It no longer gives much on trade for used CDs. Oh well, $8 down the drain. As I leave the other 2 Fido CDs in their bin to gather even more dust. Funny how the Flower Kings' albums at Spin-It seem to do better sales wise

Report this review (#239482)
Posted Tuesday, September 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars The present king of crossover prog is here...

Doomsday Afternoon is what can be called breakthrough album by american crossover prog band Phideaux, led by Phideaux Xavier. I think this album have established Phideaux as the kings of present crossover prog. They developed their own style by using psychedelic, art, gothic and folk rock motifs. The album is concept, full of coming and going repetitive themes (most successfully the theme from The Doctrine of Eternal Ice (Part One); some other being the theme from Micro Softdeathstar in Thank You for the Evil and the theme from the first instrumental Crumble in the second literal Crumble, etc).

Doomsday Afternoon is one very well balanced album with probably some needless repetitions. After listening to Number Seven, I would say there are some ideas in Doomsday Afternoon, later successfully developed in Number Seven, not just successfully, but in unique and amazing way. Therefore, I want to say despite Doomsday Afternoon is one really precise album and high standard of crossover prog music, it can't compare to what come out later - Number Seven, which I consider as a candidate of greatest crossover prog album of all time. So, I'm really surprised with the overall ratings of those two Phideaux's albums. I'm inclined to think that there is a conspiracy against Number Seven, but that's another story...

Now about my rating for Doomsday Afternoon. For me it's one of the easiest and most certain votes - exactly 4 stars, not more and not less!

Hightlights in Doomsday Afternoon:

1. The Doctrine of Eternal Ice (Part One) - an absolute masterpiece of art!

2. Microdeath Softstar - exceptional piece of work!

3. Micro Softdeathstar - excellent song!

Report this review (#241540)
Posted Saturday, September 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars Doomsday Afternoon was a late acquisition for me, in that it is hailed as a masterpiece by many and yet I got Chupacabras and Number Seven first. When trying out an artist that is new to me but has a considerable discography, I try to obtain a work or two that is considered excellent yet more moderately rated (for me, that's generally between 3.70 and 4.10). Doing so serves two purposes: First, it gives me a fair snapshot of the artist without giving me the best they have to offer (at least according to the ratings), and second, offers me a fair bit of perspective about the artist before I indulge in what most consider to be the magnum opus. Incidentally, my favorites from most bands tend not to be those that are the highest-rated; however, this is not the case. This album is a masterwork, and likely the best Phideaux has to offer. I relish the employment of the acoustic guitar, as it adds a desirable texture to the rather piquant and haunting pieces, which contain both delicate and commanding movements. While Phideaux Xavier is not my favorite vocalist by any means, his voice suits the whole tenor of the album, and his female companion provides exceptional variety in this department. I get a very similar feeling listening to this album as I do when listening to Genesis's The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, if only to a lesser degree. The music contained on this record consists of extremely sophisticated symphonic and crossover progressive rock.

"Micro Softdeathstar" The album begins in a similar manner as a Pink Floyd record just prior to Roger Waters's departure, with soft vocals and piano followed by heavier, more powerful music. Then that heart-wrenching violin enters, coupled with the exquisite feminine vocals. The strings' flourishes and the grand gestures by the band throughout this piece are stately and welcome, providing the piece with ornamental grandeur all the way through, even as a splendid synthesizer lead enters, perhaps sounding a bit like "And You and I" from Yes.

"The Doctrine of Eternal Ice (Part One)" I was floored the first time I heard this piece, which boasts thudding chords with bass and piano before blasting into a sinister synthesizer lead. The orchestration is phenomenal.

"Candybrain" An ominous theme consumes the beginning of this piece, as acoustic guitar, organ, and flute add a variety of textures. The vocals are outstanding here, but not nearly as much as the breathtaking, almost Celtic, arrangement.

"Crumble" Gorgeous piano and gentle voices make up the next moment of brilliance.

"The Doctrine of Eternal Ice (Part Two)" Melancholic electric piano and soft singing, laced with a bit of synthesizer make up this second part, as recognizable musical themes return. The feminine vocals are lovely as ever, and things soon pick up during the second half with clavichord and synthesizer taking the lead.

"Thank You For The Evil" A heavy drum, low bass, and silky acoustic guitar begins this lengthy and menacingly-titled song. Once more, I hear elements of Pink Floyd here, particularly in the vocals, the melody, and the bleak overtones of the instrumentation. Comparatively speaking, this is the dullest track, which is really to say that the rest of the album is just more wonderful.

"A Wasteland Of Memories" Flowing directly from the orchestration of the previous piece, this transitory song has a magnificent opening, followed by some theatric vocals.

"Crumble" It isn't unusual that two tracks share the same name; this piece is a ghostly revisiting of what came before, except there are lyrics here that follow that elegant melody.

"Formaldehyde" This was the first Phideaux song I'd ever heard, and it immediately piqued my interest for a dozen reasons. That introduction really suited my taste, with perfect instrumentation, from the acoustic guitar to the breathy flute, from the synthesizer flourishes to the steady rim shots. Then the violin entered and made me close my eyes to take it all in. The vocals never disappoint, either, moving between soaring passages and more subdued sections. The organ and synthesizer solos are the final ingredients to this delightful recipe. The way the song ends, with those quirky vocals, makes it so that I cannot help but think of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.

"Microdeath Softstar" An empty beginning starts the final and most extended song. Delicate vocals and a bright, distant organ perform themes from before until finally the drums and fuller instrumentation enter. The strings are striking, and the vocals are biting. Overall, this is an excellent ending (once again reminiscent of the album I've already mentioned twice), full of returning motifs and magnificent music.

Report this review (#247148)
Posted Thursday, October 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars 8/10

"Doomsday Afternoon" is a brilliant puzzle of melodies.

2007 was a great year for progressive music, no doubt on this: Porcupine Tree's "Fear Of A Blank Planet", Devin Townsend's "Ziltoid The Omniscient", Ulver's "Shadows Of The Sun", and, of course, Phideaux's "Doomsday Afternoon". In my previous review of this album. I wasn't very accurate in describing the album. I'll try this time to be as precise as possible.

Doomsday Afternoon is a concept album, and is part of a trilogy, being the second episode: the first one was "The Great Leap", the third is yet to come ( I doubt it's "Number Seven"). Lyrically, it concerns ecology and "Big Brother" authoritarianism, as Wikipedia says. Even musically, many parts and themes are often repeated.

The style is very peculiar: progressive, psych music, classical, pop, folk. The arrangements are extremely refined, and the melodies are always superb. The structure of the album is also very impressive, as it has many interludes, which are never too brief, as well as long, epic tracks ("Micro Deathstar", "Microdeath Softstar").

I would say that "Micro Deathstar" is the best song of the album, since it is the one that for first puts down the themes and passages that will eventually be repeated during the album. To remember also the two epic parts of "The Doctrine Of Eternal Ice", where the melodies are different from the other songs, even though not from each other. The two "Crumble" are also original, but not from each other. "Formaldeyhde" also has original parts, as well as the brief "A Wasteland Of Memories". But for the rest, the songs always have a melody in common, the main melody, the one from "Micro Deathstar". "Thank You For The Evil" and the epic "Microdeath Softstar".

A brilliant puzzle of melodies, a beautiful journey that you will not forget.

Report this review (#262690)
Posted Tuesday, January 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Granted that I've never heard of Phideaux before Doomsday Afternoon started to receive some of the most extraordinary praise here on Prog Archives I decided to find out what this new talk of the town (or talk of the community) was all about.

The first time I listened through the entire album I honestly didn't hear anything spectacular and that opinion remained with me throughout all of the consecutive revisits. There isn't anything particularly wrong with the music here, in fact I would even say that it's quite pleasant. The melodies are great and the laid back approach is very appealing from a non-progressive rock stand point. Oh wait, wasn't this suppose to be progressive? I knew that I was missing something here!

Phideaux might have impressed the online progressive rock communities but this music has yet to make its mark on me. My biggest concern with Phideaux's music on Doomsday Afternoon is that there is hardly any progressive rock in it. The band managed to create appealing soundscapes that will definitely make the old school progressive-fans happy since the music reminds them of a light version of Pink Floyd. Personally I doubt that even Pink Floyd would have preferred to play this type of music for more than 40 years without evolving. Where is the progress in this so called progressive material?

After this critique I still hesitate to give any of the tracks a low rating since, as I mentioned, most of the melodies are really catchy and there is an overall theme. Although I can't help but feel that Phideaux is playing it safe 100% of the time. I am still waiting for a single passage to really impress by grabbing me on an emotional level.

The new release Number Seven has received some extraordinary praise but I will probably skip it because cozy and safe progressive rock seizes to be progressive.

**** star songs: Micro Softdeathstar (11:17) The Doctrine Of Eternal Ice (Part One) (3:01) Crumble (2:55) The Doctrine Of Eternal Ice (Part Two) (8:08) A Wasteland Of Memories (2:22) Crumble (2:55) Formaldehyde (8:17) Microdeath Softstar (14:40)

*** star songs: Candybrain (4:06) Thank You For The Evil (9:18)

Report this review (#265772)
Posted Friday, February 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Not to be obvious, but my icon on this site is the album cover to Doomsday Afternoon. Nuff said. This is the best thing I have heard in the last 3 years. Along with Porcupine Tree and Dredg, Phideaux was one of the great discoveries I made thanks to this wonderful web site. And this album is the highlight of Phideaux's output with none others coming close. Highlights? "Microsoftdeathstar" and it's bookend "Microdeathsoftstar". But everything else in between is just as good. Lots of Pink Floydian ambience, great lyrics, stunning female vocals on many songs, rhythm and cadence changes, epic songs, great concept....THIS IS PROG! I hear, besides Floyd, Dredg, King Crimson, Alan Parsons, and others in this music. The motifs that are visited throughout this album can also be heard on other Phideaux release such as Number 7. Awesome! 5 stars.
Report this review (#276643)
Posted Tuesday, April 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I have listened to this album, these songs, over and over for the past two years and I'm finally ready to say it: I don't get it! I don't understand the prog fascination with/appreciation for this album! Microsoft Deathstar (1 and 2) sound so much like something from the 70's, yet: haven't we had enough of the 70s? (And what's with the two note woofer-filling bass womps that appear in virtually every song?) While I do understand and appreciate the technical prowess of Phideaux' constructions, I just don't find them emotionally engaging or pleasing to my ears. And I LOVE 'classical music.' Perhaps if I were a lyrics-appreciating listener I would like this collection of songs better, but musically these songs are just plain, good, but plain. I have yet to feel any connection to the melodies or songs here. I appreciate the classical and ethnic themes and influences, and love the clear production. (Though, perhaps it's a bit too sterile!?) So many familiar melodies, so many interesting shifts and changes. It's surprising that I find the most monotonous song on the album, "Thank You For the Evil" my favorite. Perhaps it's because it stays constant long enough to convey a feeling, a mood--to make its point. And what's all the hype about the 'amazing' female vocal performances? Come on, people! (I guess they're better than/help distract from the lead male.)

3.5 stars rated up for clarity, consistency, and talent.

Report this review (#278561)
Posted Monday, April 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
2 stars This Phideaux album receives impressive rounds of applause and lots of enthusiastic cheering, but while I generally like Phideaux's music, this one completely fails to impress me. Quite the contrary, it is one of those cases of wallpaper prog that makes me turn my back on the whole 'modern' prog thing.

Doomsday Afternoon continues the songwriter focus of the preceding Great Leap, but where that album at least rocked out a bit, we only get inoffensive folksy pop on this one. The album never reaches the level of musical competency and creative bliss that Phideaux's strongest album Chupacabras had. It's harmless background music, guaranteed not to cause a ripple in the campfire cosiness of your long winter evenings.

It takes almost half the album till the Floydian Thank You For The Evil does a first try to catch the listener's attention. It's a solid composition driven by acoustic guitars and bright keyboards. Nothing original but it sets down a great spacey mood. But that's it, what follows is another sequence of uninteresting ballads dressed up with orchestrated arrangements, buzzing synth clichés and sentimental pop vocals. Especially the female vocals are very formulaic and highly disappointing.

There's nothing really wrong with this album and that's exactly what is totally wrong with it. It's safe, tame and predictable. I want music to be adventurous, truthful and creative. But you won't find much of that behind the watered-down prog stance of this album.

Report this review (#280656)
Posted Thursday, May 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Big, symphonic prog, with fairly unique instrumentation, and solid songwriting: What's not to like?

Not much, so I can confidently give this a 4-star rating, though definitely essential for the neo, symphonic, and perhaps folk proggers out there.

On the flip side, despite the many positives, there is also a hint of cheesy pomposity (not much, but it's always in the back of my mind). After seeing the group live--something which I immensely enjoyed, by the way--I couldn't help wondering why it took so many musicians to get this sound. Part of the reason is that not everyone is involved all the time, and Doomsday Afternoon is so varied that it sometimes doesn't feel terribly cohesive. It's well written, and everyone plays and sings what they are supposed to, but there's also less room for most of the contributors to really dig in.

Nitpicks aside, Doomsday is a very fun album, full of prog candy, ready for immediate consumption and enjoyment (read: not a "grower" album). It's full of different sounds and textures, but all very well produced and crystal clear, although some might even find it just a bit overproduced. Regarding the plot and lyrics, they are passable and never detract, but my main focus is mostly drawn to the melody and instrumentation.

I enjoy the bookend tracks the most (the "Doom Suite), and feel that on these the full "power" of the lineup is fully realized. I also heartily enjoy Formaldehyde each time, with a very effective half-and-half structure of folk in the beginning and upbeat prog to finish.

Definitely a solid addition to any prog collection, and always fun and enjoyable. For whatever reason, Doomsday Afternoon never completely, totally engages me as a prog masterpiece might, but it certainly shows the potential of the group to compose a prog masterpiece at some point.

Report this review (#291191)
Posted Tuesday, July 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the best albums of the past decade?

That's not an accolade that one throws around lightly. But this 2007 release by Phideaux competes with a small number of modern progressive rock albums as being not only highly acclaimed, but actually as good as everybody says it is.

The album follows the tradition of Symphonic bands, but with Phideaux, we do not hear a band that is trying to sound like they are from 30 years ago. We find a band who is using lessons learned by those same bands, and integrating it into their own sound to create a sound that is both familiar while being completely unique.

Sometimes, while listening to modern Symphonic-flavoured prog, I get lost in the long instrumental passages that can occasionally feel like they were added just to help a song reach a prog-worthy track time. While this album has several songs that come close to or even surpass the the ten minute track length, every note has a meaning. And the longer songs do not sit still; they move between various melodies, each of which is strong and memorable. The band, on their Myspace, say, "Syncopation and tricky time signatures are sometimes utilized but always there is melody to be hummed and riffs to invade your ears and mind." This is completely true.

The album is a concept album, and concept is a weighty one, dealing with a sort of big- brotherly world. Religion ("the convent is waiting it's time to go in, gather the faithful let vespers begin") and scientific experimentation ("up around the riverbend, the specialists changed you") are used to make this government-brainwashing that much more frightening in this torn-apart world ("do not speak of ice retreat and islands eaten by the sea, industry economy, we've only just begun").

A concept is just a concept without an emotional connection and the feeling that the entire album carries the concept. Phideaux have managed to connect quite deftly with the listener in this release. For one, there are many singers in this album, and the vocals always fit what they are trying to convey perfectly, be it horror, anger, or sorrow. Crumble in particular is a haunting track; there are two versions of it on the album, one that is just instrumental, and one with just piano and vocals. This stripped down little piece has some of the most beautiful, sad, wistful vocals I've heard and it almost brings me to tears. This is also the one prog song I have shown to friends and family that has been universally loved.

If I were to rate Foxtrot, I would give it five stars, almost exclusively for Supper's Ready. There's one thing about Supper's Ready that I've always thought was genius and that made it from an excellent epic to one of the most iconic prog rock tracks I've heard, and that's the reprise of the "Lovers Leap" theme at the end of it. Phideaux learned from this, and there are allusions to future sections throughout this album (the aforementioned two versions of crumble, the instrumental "Doctrine of Eternal Ice Part 1" before "Doctrine of Eternal Ice Part 2", various themes re-used), and each time, the band does not merely repeat what they have done before, but take it in a new direction.

There are also themes that appear in multiple songs. For example, both the opening track and The Doctrine of Eternal Ice make a reference to "Climbing up the fire escape" or "Running down the fire escape". The phrase, "Up around the Riverbend, I was separated from you" is used multiple times throughout the album, and changes to "The specialists changed you" in Formaldehyde. The "Do not speak, do not speak" used to such great effect in the version of crumble is used again in Microdeath Softstar, but here, instead of being sung in sad vocals by a female singer, it is sung by Phideaux in a completely different tone. These re-uses of previous themes, yet modifying them to still be new, really gives the album a coherent feel while at the same time expressing changes in the story quite elegantly.

If I had to describe the sound of the album, I would say, "The way music would sound if I wrote it." There are many vocalists, often layering their vocals together, both male and female and all of great skill. Piano and cello are used to give the music unique texture. The melodies are always catchy but the band also pulls off several great atmospheric moments (think the beginning of "Thank You For The Evil"). The drumming is always excellent and the guitar playing has plenty of feel to it. There is a dark, gothic vibe to the music that is very good.

I usually wait until I've listened to an album over 20 times before I give it a five star rating, so I know that not only is the music amazing, but it also stays amazing after many listens. I'm not quite there yet (about three listens away), but in this case I'm fairly certain that the music will not diminish. So, I give this album a not-so-tentative 5 stars.

Report this review (#291316)
Posted Wednesday, July 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars When I first heard this, I was fairly dissapointed. It was too simple, the singer was annoying, and the symphonic arrangements sounded like they were just thrown in at the last second for good measure. But, as we all know, lots of Progressive music can only be fully appreciated when given a 2nd (or 3rd or 10th for that matter) chance.

After the second go-round, I realized the beauty in the simplicity. Usually I can't stand it when people say "there is beauty in simplicity", but here I must make an exception. Just listen to "Crumble" a couple of times and you'll know what I mean. However, there is a long track in here that is simply boring. nothing special about it at all.

One of the main reasons I don't give this a four star rating is because of the vocals. The female vocals are very nice, but the guy that is singing sounds like he has a cold. I cringe every time I hear him attempt to sing something emotional or loud or anything not toned down.

As for the Symohnic arrangements, they are better when their toned down. (like most things on this album) But overall it does add quite a lot to the generall atmosphere.

Lyrically, it is very nice. Especially because of the repeated lines/ themes throughout. I can't really pick out one storyline, but concept is pretty clear.

Another setback is the lack of instrumental technicality. I realize that's not what this album is about, but Sometimes you just really wish there was a solo, or a cool little interlude, or something to break the simplicity.

My favorite song- Formaldahyde. I especially love the first part of this one. It has a great "walking through the forest" type of feel.

Overall, I love the atmosphere and most of the songs, but there are too many setbacks for it to be "excellent". I do definitely suggest listening if you are a fan of this kind of folksy, symphonic stuff.

Report this review (#293975)
Posted Tuesday, August 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Did you diddle, did you daddle, did you run away from the scene? Where is sanctuary from the battle that is coming into being?

This album is truly remarkable. A thousand listens in (or so it should be by now) and it has not lost one bit of its beautiful charm. There are no words to sum up this album other than wondrous neo-classical inspiration, inspiration for the rest of a life to be built on.

This album starts off with a weary piano melody that sets a somber tone, a gorgeous somber tone, a tone that will not cease until the final chord has been played. The true magic, however, is where this tone leads you. From the beginnings of a simple piano aria, to the edge of energetic orchestral works; from gorgeous lady singers to the baritone of man in unison; from soft soundscape of long post rock tones, to the crunching guitar with soaring woodwinds. The raw, unbridled musical universe you sail through on the back of a french-canadian master is truly a calming and inspiring experience.

On top of everything else this album is an enigma in another. The cryptic story lyrics and repetitive song titles lead you down a path of unknown purpose, a long path of unravelling the mystery of fear and sorrow, pain and death. Beautifully sung by every one of the singers aboard, the journey never seems to end in appreciating this magic.

This album is a top-priority listen; walk in with patience and you'll walk out with a new musical life.

Report this review (#294973)
Posted Wednesday, August 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars This album is one I learned about here at Progarchives, and I am grateful to have found it here. When I listen to it, it always makes me think that this is the album Steven Wilson wishes he could make.

With a name like "Phideaux", I expected a Frank Zappa influence ("Phideaux" being the name and spelling he gave his tour buses - named after the poodle that appears in some of his songs). Instead, this is a beautiful mix of prog styles. The main influence I hear is Pink Floyd. Many of the songs are some of the best approximations of classic Floyd I've ever heard. But that is not all. There is also a hefty helping of lush symphonic prog, and even some prog-folk.

Mr. Phideaux's voice falls somewhere between Roger Hodgson of Supertramp and Edward Ka-Spel from The Legendary Pink Dots, although at times he reminds me a bit of Weird Al Yankovic. But never do the vocals become grating.

I highly recommend this wonderful and very eclectic album, probably the best release of 2007.

Report this review (#303313)
Posted Monday, October 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Once upon a time there was some writing on the wall we all ignored, Until the time when there was war and feasts of famine at our door.

WOW! There is not one other album I have ever heard that lyrically matches this album. Never have I felt I was actually trapped inside an album. A horrifyingly beautiful piece of artwork. And to add to the geniusly crafted lyrics the amazing symphonic parts of the album. Well played all around. "Doomsday Afternoon" beats out Ayreon's "The Human Equation" or Transatlantic's "The Whirlwind" any day of the week! There is only two things though that don't make since to me about this album. Why are some of the names of the songs Microdeath Softstar or Candybrain? But whatever, they still sound good. Also how is this Crossover Prog. This is clearly symphonic.

Overall a brilliant album! The only way Phideaux could make this album more real is if it it actually happened. So buy/download "Doomsday Afternoon" now! This album is not the greatest of all time but certainly belongs in my top 5 of the new century. 99% essential.

Report this review (#349985)
Posted Saturday, December 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've owned this album since it came out and it took a great deal of conscious effort to resist the zeal of rating it right away. However, after a long time of contemplating it, I think this album is absolutely a masterpiece.

First off, you will hear lots of stories about how this is the second part of a trilogy with similar sonic references, lyrical references and how it isn't quite done yet. Ignore these things. This album stands up magnificently on its own. While you may miss a couple musical and lyrical cues culled from THE GREAT LEAP, they won't detract from the experience. In fact, this was the very first Phideaux album I ever heard and it blew me away immediately without even knowing anything about the trilogy, let alone that this wasn't the first part.

When Phideaux says that this plays like one massive song, he isn't kidding. If you put this on and let it run to the end, it functions as a singular, rather structurally complex piece. I just read a rather interesting essay by Umberto Eco on structuralism in poetry that would shed some great light on this album, but I don't want to bore you! In short, the structure is much more complex than a single song split into tracks, or even multiple movements. Instead, there is a complex interweaving of lyrical and musical recapitulations and permutations going on through the album. Similar riffs appear again and again, but are paired against such radically different instrumentation and lyrics that they feel fresh. Indeed, the structure is a great boon because it makes a through-composed song cycle that still feels workable no matter which tune you listen to, which is normally a big failing of these large songs. In this, you can pluck out any tune and listen to it on its own to get something satisfactory while also retaining the power of the song cycle when listened to as a whole.

This, I feel, is the album's greatest strength. The instrumentation reminds me of classic Genesis albums perhaps a bit too much; but keep in mind that I have all three Genesis studio box sets not just in my possession but in my car at all times. The sonic similarities are, to me, a tremendous boon, but I can see them as a weakness in the eyes of others. Likewise, the lyrics and vocals, while I like them, I can see perhaps being a little of an annoyance; not the female vocals, which are astounding and pretty and disturbing and powerful whenever the feel like it, but Phideaux's. However, the compositional strength of this piece, the sheer songwriting power brought to bear, makes all of these rather meek arguments. It's like saying the intros on a couple songs on DARK SIDE OF THE MOON are too long; yeah, but who cares?

A masterpiece. Five stars, no doubts.

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Posted Monday, February 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#418575)
Posted Sunday, March 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars In preparation for Phideaux's latest album, Snowtorch, I figured I should expand my catalogue from him, and pick up his most acclaimed album yet, Doomsday Afternoon. I had read that this was similar to Number Seven, which I enjoyed a fair amount, and though I hadn't listened to its predecessor, The Great Leap, I decided to give it a try. Although it has a lot of similarities to Number Seven, in my ears, Doomsday Afternoon turns out to be a more exciting and effective rendition from the band.

The first thing I noticed when I listened to the album was that it sounded characteristically like Phideaux. The sound of the piano and the arrangements made me feel right at home, and considering that was my favorite part of Seven, it was a good first impression. At first, the similarity was almost uncanny, and I couldn't help myself from hearing melodies from Seven in my head while listening to Doomsday, but luckily as I became more familiar with the music, that feeling went away.

For those not already familiar with the band's work, they have a very melodic sound, with a heavy use of themes, and a focus on piano and keyboards. Acoustic guitar is another one of their big instruments, and for this album in particular, they employ a number of orchestral instruments, such as flute, oboe, the string family, brasses and more. The first utterance from the viola in the opening number sticks out a bit in relation to the usual rock instruments, but once it settles in, it works really well. The entire orchestra ends up adding a lot to the music, and fills out the sound nicely, as well as having a lot of memorable solo passages. The tracks named Crumble especially show off the beauty of the flute and strings, which wound up producing some of my favorite music on the album.

While the orchestra is a big part of Doomsday, the real draw here is the strong composition, and the two flowing suites which are split evenly down the middle. There are a couple of long, slower developing songs, but every section feels pretty connected to the whole piece, with a good use of overarching themes. You'll hear a lot of reprisals, both in instruments and lyrics, usually in a different context than the original, which keeps them feeling really fresh. The last two songs are the culmination of the entire piece, and they bring a lot of previously introduced work together in a great way. Specifically, Formaldehyde, the penultimate song, has one of the best uses of a theme I've ever heard, by reprising a once evil sounding piano theme triumphantly on acoustic guitar. It's a moment I wait for every time I listen to this, and it's one of the most satisfying moments on the whole album.

The variations of the themes fit in with the story, and everything makes sense contextually. If, like me, you've not heard The Great Leap, the first part of this trilogy, don't worry too much. Doomsday is accessible as a standalone work, and the only points where you can convince yourself that this is the middle portion of a bigger story are the very beginning and ending. The lyrics allude to government and oppression, and though it'll take some digging to figure out what's really going on, they can be enjoyed on a base level. The lead vocals are done by Phideaux himself and one of the female members of the band. The contrast in voices and singing styles is nice, and they have some good back and forth moments. I do prefer the female vocals to Phideaux's, as she sings with a lot of emotion as opposed to his more laid back approach, but they can both hold their own.

My only real complaint about Doomsday is the same I had about Seven: the album starts off really strong and exciting, but it just loses too much steam in the middle for its own good. The few middle tracks slow things down a lot, and while this is usually provides good balance, they tend to linger too long, to the point where they become boring. The few times that they get a kick of energy, they usually end up losing it soon after. The difference here compared to Seven is that the slower tracks work better, and things ultimately pick up sooner and for longer than that album did. The last two tracks do take up about a third of the album, and they come at a time when the music really needs something fast and exciting going on. Luckily they keep it up until the end of the album.

Hearing that Snowtorch is less than 50 minutes got me excited, because that's the amount of music here that I really love. Even though there is a decent portion of Doomsday Afternoon that I want to start fast forwarding through, it winds up being a very enjoyable album. If you're a fan of Phideaux and somehow don't have this yet, definitely pick this up, but even if you're new to the band's work, this is a great place to start.

Report this review (#419466)
Posted Monday, March 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars With this album PHIDEAUX is finally barking up the right tree.

Better composition, better production (I can't account for this because I hear it was recorded at the same time as 'The Great Leap') and, finally, some substance to the hype. I must say the addition of an orchestra (while it must have been expensive) was a master-stroke, giving the music depth the synths just can't imitate. I'm also pleased the drummer has finally sunk back into the mix a little. And to give Xavier credit his voice is much more expressive here, allowing himself to take more risks which mostly pay off.

'Micro Softdeathstar' is a solid opening, followed by the excellent instrumental 'The Doctrine of Eternal Ice #1'. Here is a theme worthy of prog rock greatness! The piano-driven 'Candybrain' and 'Crumble' separate the two halves of the 'Eternal Ice' duology, pleasant enough without being outstanding, and then we plunge back into the album's more memorable moments. The second 'Doctrine' is flat-out beautiful, alternating the theme from the first part - albeit muted - with some gorgeous melodies (and annoying synth, but you can't always be perfect). This is distinctly Floydian, even more so because Xavier's voice, like Waters', is workmanlike rather than expressive: he has to take a run at the more dramatic moments, but on this album it adds character. The song peters out a little, but a foundation is laid and 'Thank You For The Evil' builds on it with its ponderous, sludgy beat and layers of synthesisers, a slow rise into a simple but impressive intensity. 'Formaldehyde' marries folkish and symphonic prog very nicely, repeating earlier themes. Here comes 'Doctrine' again. Clever, this. This is an album easy to get into due to the repetition of the main themes, for me a prerequisite for great traditional prog rock. Two stirring 'Doctrines', two pretty 'Crumbles' and, to round out the album, a second stunning 'Microdeathsoftstar', the title a rearrangement of the first track, just as is the music.

This is PHIDEAUX's main contribution to progressive rock. It is an album with a clear shape, well balanced, filled with excellent songwriting and is more than competently played. Certainly no threat to the classics, and by no means a masterpiece, but well worth a listen.

Report this review (#419513)
Posted Monday, March 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Phideaux is a special guy. This American and his music appeared in 2004 with "Fiendish" (actually he had released an album in 1992 called "Friction", but this is ignored in his discography) and has since joined his first "Ghost Story", the phenomenal "Chupacabras" (which is my favorite album from him), "313" and "The Great Leap". But they all would have remained in obscurity if not for his magnum opus "Doomsday Afternoom."

This album was one of the biggest surprises of 2007 and established the name Phideaux. It is his most ambitious project, and fortunately it worked. Both Phideaux like most people who know and listen to their albums regard this as his work - material.

But I do not. I'm not an avid fan of Phideaux, but I admire and respect his music . However, the more I listen to "Doomsday Afternoom" I am not able to revere him as a masterpiece . At best, I give 4 stars.

Now, no one can disagree with the musical quality of this album. In addition to his band , Phideaux also recruited some members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra (14, if I remember correctly) to supplement and enrich the sound of "Doomsday" . The result is quite amazing, making this album a symphonic prog monster that is a delight for lovers and supporters of classical music (like me) with his orchestrations and such. Sometimes I wonder if Phideaux deserves to be classified as a Crossover Prog artist because his music has become more ambitious and symphonic with each album - but this, of course, is not something that I decide.

But that's not all. As a lover of good music prog, Phideaux flooded this album with references to the 70s prog giants. They are diverse: there are touches of Genesis ("Formaldehyde"), Pink Floyd ("Thank you for the Evil"), Yes (the synthesizer in "The Doctrine of Eternal Ice pt. 1") and - gasp - Van Der Graaf Generator ("The Doctrine of Eternal Ice pt. 2") , in addition to some touches of Camel and Jethro Tull, especially on the flute. The sound is sometimes quite gothic ("Candybrain"), recalling the days of "Chupacabras" .

I'm a little oblivious to the concept of the album, but it seems that Phideaux unites Bible stories and concepts to issues such as global warming and ecology is in the second part of a trilogy that began with "The Great Leap" and ends with an album tentatively called "Infernal" , which until now has not been released (Phideaux seems to have an appreciation for names referring to Satanism and the like - ughh).

The album with a whisper mentioning "one, two, three, four" before entering a delicate piano. It is "Micro Softdeathstar" , the first epic of the album . I will not describe this track, because it is a bit complex and also I do not like her. In fact, three of the epic of the album (besides this, there is still "The Doctrine of Eternal Ice", which is divided into two parts, and "Microdeath Softstar"), I just like "The Doctrine ..." , and not that much. For me the other two and "Thank you for the Evil are the weakest of the album, alongside the second version of " Crumble ".

The first part of "The doctrine of eternal ice" is substantially better than the second, with its synthesizers, guitar solos, oboes, magnificent orchestration, and a beautiful piano that ends - all in three minutes. It leads to two of my favorite songs on the album, "Candybrain" and "Crumble" (this, in its instrumental version) . The first marks a return to gothic times Phideaux with great vocals, fun and beautiful palms equal to the closing previous track - but in place of the piano enters the flute, and finally Phideaux whispers "... and this is what they say".The second is an instrumental that opens with a sad piano and some female vocals (I love voice of this singer - is the least perfect), then a little text accompanied by orchestral music and the phrase ended earlier (this time sung by the singer) makes a transition to the first initial return of the theme, this time led by the oboe. Simply wonderful the two.

The second part of "The Doctrine ..." is good, but a vague sense of repetition - especially in relation to the theme of the first song. "Thank you for the Evil" is basically a floydian song that Pink Floyd never recorded - it all refers to the band from synthesizers to the atmosphere - though she did not convince me and even today I can not digest it. "The wasteland of memories" is a bit better, with interesting orchestrations (like the soundtrack to a movie), but then comes the second version (think "version" sounds better than "part") of "Crumble", this time with female vocals, which to me is honestly the only good aspect of this mediocre song that does nothing but repeat the themes of the first version, but this time without the orchestra and oboe - thus without the same success.

Fortunately, "Formaldehyde" improved things significantly. This is the best song on the disc and one of my favorite band (after "Chupacabras") . The synth line in the beginning reminds me immediately to "The Cinema Show" - every moment of this music is unique, although the end is a much harm - and the line developed "Satan's angels fly" bother me a bit. Unfortunately, the epic "Microdeath Softstar" is nothing to me than 15 minutes of wasted time, where it all comes down to basically collages of themes throughout the album - just a very original guitar solo there for me like 7 minutes. A frustrating end to an album that could have been much better.

5 stars: The Doctrine of Eternal Ice pt. 1, Candybrain, Crumble (instrumental), The Wasteland of Memories, Formaldehyde

3 star: Micro Softdeathstar, The Doctrine of Eternal Ice pt.2, Thank you for the Evil, Crumble (vocals), Microdeath Softstar

Average: 4.00

4 stars. This is not a masterpiece, but a good and meaningful album.

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Posted Saturday, April 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
5 stars I went to this album without expecting anything special. I didn't read reviews before and all I knew of Phideaux was the high rating of their actual last album "Snowtorch". The fact is that it's some days that I'm not listening to anything else than Doomsday Afternoon.

The piano at the beginning of the first track is intriguing and after few chords, when the vocals start, just before a drum explosion, it was clear to me that I was listening to something that I like. It's rock and symphonic, it has guitar and keyboards, then the stop and the violin with the female choir....There are echoes of all the bigs in this first song: Genesis, Pink Floyd, ELP, plus a non-prog band that the lead vocalist sometimes reminds me to: the Stranglers. All this stuff in a 11 minutes mini-suite.

The album's structure makes possible that there's a concept behind. Recurring parts coming and going plus a song, "Crumble" played twice, first instrumental then with female vocals. Also "The Doctrine Of Eternal Ice" is split in two parts separated by two songs.

But what is more impressive is the use of the orchestra and particularly strings which give a strong symphonic imprinting to the album. The just mentioned Eternal Ice has an Arabic mood like Camel's Nimrodel or parts of Snow Goose, but with a guitar that seems played by Mike Oldfield and a folky piano coda.

There's not a single chord of this album that I don't like. "Candybrian" opens like in the middle of the Snow Goose, then becomes a soft acoustic ballad in Renaissance style...

"Crumble" is a song, specially in the second version, that can generate discussions. I find it fantastic but the version with vocals reminds to Evanescence. Anyway, compliments to the vocalist.

I wasn't intentioned to write a track-by-track review, even if any of this song deserves some lines. The Floydian "Thank you for he Evil" that surely appeals Porcupine Tree fans, the short symphony of "A Wasteland Of Memories", the folk acoustic guitar of "Formaldehyde" helped by a Wakemanian keyboard, with the orchestra behind, to finish with the 14 minutes closer, "Microdeath Softstar", spacey as its title in the beginning which evolves into symphonic with the brasses section playing a melody that Peter Bardens would have been happy to play.

Who loves classic prog can find here everything he/she likes packed into an album made of original songs. All the references that I have mentioned have to be intended as "sensations". If a band can make me think to Camel, Floyd or Renaissance ti means that's for me is a great band and this album gives me exactly this feeling.

Looking forward to buy other Phideaux albums, I rate this one with the maximum.

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Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This release from 2007 demonstrated how far Phideaux had come. The music has the trademark prog stamp all over it, great story line, multi layered sounds, even dare I say it some cheesy lyrics at times. For this reviewer the album can be best critiqued in two parts. First the music, which is beautifully held together by solid musicianship, complex yet accessible sounscapes and classic keyboard and horn sections. The lap steel guitar by Gabriel Moffat especially makes pleasurable listening. " The Doctrine of Eternal Ice Part two" undeniably the highlight off the album.

The second part of this release is the vocals and lyrics which sadly take too long before really getting off the ground. Whilst understanding the conceptual work on display here, the lyrics at times seem a bit too naive and the lead vocals are not too strong. This is remedied however with the wonderful backing vocalists, Linda Maldawsky and Molly Ruttan providing some much needed balance to the proceedings. Overall this is a great progressive album but in summary far more strong musically than vocally. Very much a modern day Renaissance sound, reference Kiev off the Prologue album. Three solid stars.

Report this review (#552036)
Posted Monday, October 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars The gothy proggy art rock sound of Phideaux leans a little heavier on the prog side of the equation on Doomsday Afternoon. I think Phideaux's particular genius on this album is his way of incorporating the motifs and ideas of classic prog bands such as Pink Floyd, Genesis, and Marillion into his music with such a subtle touch that it's only very occasionally you'll catch him doing it; he shows a deep understanding of the compositional approaches of the bands in question so the inspiration shown goes further than mere surface features and obvious stylistic quirks. On the whole, this is an album which is easily the equal of Chupacabras, and is compulsively listenable - once I've put it on I can't let myself stop listening until it's run its course.
Report this review (#726356)
Posted Friday, April 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Satan's angels fly!

It's been just 48 hours since my review, rather negative, of "The Great Leap". And I feel guilty.

I feel guilty because although I am convinced that "The Great Leap" is not a memorable album, I have so much regard for this man and his band that I feel guilty anyway! And so now I try to redeem myself with the second album of this underground trilogy.

"Doomsday Afternoon", unlike its predecessor, is a masterpiece of modern progressive rock, and in my opinion the best album of 2007. It is probably the turning point in the career of Phideaux, the moment when the band decide to follow the path of progressive rock with great determination (as already made, but only in part, with "Chupacabras"). It is an album characterized by dark and apocalyptic sounds, also implemented through the use of a orchestral section of strings and horns, which help to give extreme solemnity to the songs. Great importance have keyboards, especially the Hammond organ and the synth. As always, Phideaux shows great sensitivity for acoustic music with beautiful piano and guitar parts. The arrangements are very elaborate but do not suffocate the harmonies: the result is a good balance between melody and experimentation, where finally is given to the voice of Valerie Gracious the space it deserves. Matthew Parmenter also participates, he occasionally sings and play violin. Regarding the tracks that make up the album, it is not correct to speak of "single" songs. All songs are linked by the plot, and some themes are repeated many times along the album. In practice, we are faced with a complex musical work that should be appreciated in its entirety. Anyway, here is a brief analysis of the individual tracks.

Micro Softdeathstar:9/10. The beautiful initial notes of "Micro Softdeathstar" immediately set the tone that characterizes the entire album. The quiet introduction singed by Xavier is followed by the orchestra in a way that leaves stunned for majesty and elegance. Great changes of atmosphere and rhythm. When Valerie singing "I'm singing to the rain" in the end, the fan of progressive rock already feels at home.

The Doctrine Of Eternal Ice (Part One): 9/10. Instrumental song that starts with another epic and catchy piano riff. Though I am not a big supporter of the synthesizers, I must admit that in this passage the use of this instrument is superb. The orchestra offers a new contribution.

Candybrain: 8/10. Short song with acoustic guitar, flute and keyboards. The very first David Bowie comes to mind (it seems like "Space Oddity" or "The Man who sold the World"). The vocal harmonies are very beautiful. Phideaux is the lead singer here.

Crumble: 10/10. Exceptional instrumental interlude. A gentle piano melody is played with the accompaniment of the hammond organ and then with choirs and orchestra. This beautiful melody will be reproduced in other parts of the album. The first four songs are all outstanding, with no weak point.

The Doctrine Of Eternal Ice (Part Two): 7/10. It takes up the theme of the second track, as the title suggests, but this time with vocals (both by Valerie and Xavier). The song is more melodic in the first part; in the second half there are complicated arrangements with keyboards in evidence, and some reference to the sounds of Alan Parsons.

Thank You For The Evil: 9/10. There is no orchestra here. It is the song that Pink Floyd have never recorded. The slow pace and the use of synth lead you to albums such as "Wish You Were Here" and "Animals". The song expresses a great sense of inevitability. One of the greatest moment of this brilliant work.

A Wasteland Of Memories: 7/10. Taken in itself is not an important piece, but it works very well placed in the overall context of the album. The orchestra is under the spotlight again and the theme is taken from the middle section of Micro Softdeathstar.

Crumble (Part Two): 10/10. The most poignant song of the album, thanks to the wonderful interpretation of Valerie Gracious.

Formaldehyde: 6/10. The song perhaps much closer to the canons of classic progressive rock, with rhythm changes and complex arrangements, especially in the second half. Not always in focus, however it is another good quality track.

Microdeath Softstar: 10/10. Fourteen minutes of pure genius. The silent introduction gives way to a Hammond organ riff that refers a bit to "Lark's Tongues in Aspic" by King Crimson. The song is a continuous succession of changes of atmosphere and rhythm. The second half is characterized by interpretations of musical themes already heard before (there is also "You And Me Against A World Of Pain" from "The Great Leap"). The album closes in a circular manner, with the initial theme of "Micro Softdeathstar".

Recommended to all lovers of classic symphonic progressive rock. Along with "Number 7" (which is perhaps even slightly better!), the best Phideaux album.

Final rating: 9/10. Five Stars

Best song: Microdeath Softstar

Report this review (#964951)
Posted Saturday, May 25, 2013 | Review Permalink

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