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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars And then HADDAD gave a step forward in terms of progressiveness - "Orion", their 3rd studio album, is really the first we can dub as progressive, and their entrance in the style was great, leaving no doubt about the way they chose to trail. Brothers Gustavo and Leandro, the "new" generation of the Haddad family are the main actors here, counting with a special guest (Marcelo Maia, guitars) and short participations from listed and non-listed buddies, including other Haddad people.

The fairly discernible presence of synth sounds throughout the album is the more noticeable deed when compared with their previous output but actually there's a flagrant sensation of some connection among the songs resulting in a kind of concept that exudates from the tracks; the atmosphere is generally sour, poignant, sorrowful, even when some passages are intended to be uplifting.

As observed previously, production is fair and the band members' musicianship is leagues above the average. As a consequence, "Orion" is a very palatable work and if one adds the already mentioned high progressive content, the result is enjoyable.

Opening and ending tracks are mini-epics dealing with the same motifs (madness, weird dreams, scatology, modern life), and carrying the same signature. Both songs, 'Prelúdio do ópio/Ópio da razão suficiente' and 'Por onde vagam os sonhos/Delirium' show a plethora of what we like most in the prog-rock scene: beautiful symphonic tunes, agreeable neo-prog interludes, some delicate folk spices, well-shaped vocals, intense flow of keyboards, nice guitar playing. Either are the best album moments.

In addition, the album contains other fair songs: 'Desobediência kármica' is soft and warm, more romantic than truly progressive but interesting. 'Orion', the title-track, could be situated between neo-prog and prog-related with some stylized tunes reminding CAMEL or late 70s GENESIS. 'Roda da História' sounds like an ambient track while 'Far from home', sung in English, goes in the opposite direction, being a pure blues-rock with Southern guitar riffs. 'Abnormal' is too short not to smell like a filler but the main theme could be better explored: the mixture of synth and tambourine is exquisite and catchy. 'Sweet, a folha seca' is the happiest track here and the weakest too. 'Palácio dos Espelhos' is simply audible and 'Farewell blues' keeps the good album balance with nice instrumentation and general climate.

This release may finally fulfill the taste of any prog-fan even the most exigent, being a good starting-point for HADDAD's progressive output, not exactly a non-essential album but indelibly good.

Report this review (#131715)
Posted Saturday, August 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars In an era where progressive rock groups have to keep their day jobs and rarely get past a second album, Brazil's Haddad has produced 5 CDs of keyboard dominated neo prog since the mid 1990s. Their trump card is that they are aware that their music is not complex, and they don't try to pretend it is, which places them a rung or two above the average British neo act, but this still isn't exactly stirring music.

While almost everything here is good, little is especially memorable. For instance, the lengthy opener flits from one theme to another on likable fat synthesizers like a person trying so hard to be pleasant that they forget to be interesting too. Very little here beyond the sparsely used vocals seems to belie the Brazilian origins of the band, and this is unfortunate as well. An exception is "Sweet, a folha seca", which conveys some tropical sensuality, especially in the vocal sections. "Far from Home" is an exception to the generally tranquil approach, featuring tasty lead guitars and, while it is somewhat out of place, it works fairly well thanks to some fine playing and singing.

As the album rolls on, the formula of alternating pace of various keyboard themes gets tired even by Haddad's own mellow standards, although the closing suite finds some redemption. But Haddad's style on Orion depends too much on new age themes that, while appealing enough, seem to dwell in the realm of the superficial even after multiple listens. Hence my decision to round down to two stars, since good prog should be a little more imposing.

Report this review (#136448)
Posted Wednesday, September 5, 2007 | Review Permalink

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