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3 stars This very prolific but rather anonymous Mexican band has already released lots of albums. Some of them being too long to be fully interesting, but here and there a few gems (of which "The Rescue" from "Beyond Reality") have been released throughout the years. Earlier releases were frankly influenced by ELP, PFM and Genesis (but to a lesser extent).

I would say that "Infinity" is probably the most "Cast" album of all so far. They develop a less intricate music: more melodious, less technical. This band has been pretty stable throughout the years (they were playing together since 1979). For this album, we'll get a new drummer (Enrique Slim) and an addtional guitar player (Carlos Humaran). Jorge Vidales (I guess Alfonso's little brother) will be featured as well on the backing vocals.

The addition of a guitar player won't change that much the orientation of the band. Keys, keys, keys (to your heart). Only in the two longest pieces, more guitar than usual will be heard.

They won't forget to write some long songs, but at no moment boring like it was the case before. Their compositions sound fresher, more harmonious than before. I hope for them that they will be rewarded for this, but when I see the little interest for this band on PA, I am quite uncertain. Since I should go to Mexico pretty soon (next week if health allows) I'll be able to check if they are successful over there.

The first five numbers are really good. Lots of keys, long musical passages (the opening number being a all-instrumental). "Movieland" has a very long instrumental intro (almost six minutes out of nine). Again, we'lll get an orgy of keys, complex rhythm and structure. The high technicity of Cast is fully highlighted again here.

"Yuridia" is the first Spanish song from the band (if you except their double compilation "Laguna De Volcanes" which was a Spanish version of earlier songs recorded in English). I wouldn't say that singing in Spanish will add a big deal (as I have already mentioned, I am half Mexican so Spanish has no secrets for me). I can not feel an addtional emotion from Dino while singing in his mother tongue. A pleasant number, though.

The long pieces are outstanding. "Never Expect Them To Smile" (almost forteen minutes) and "Infinity" belong to the best of their catalogue. The former might be related to Genesis ("Wind & Wuthering"). It is really nice all the way through. Of course, if you are a guitar fan, you might be a bit disappointed but this is really the trade mark of the band : the (over) influence of their leader and main composer (Alfonso Vidales) on the keys holds the other member under his influence. But piano parts here are so strong that one can only be pleased. And, yes : here and there we'll get some more guitar than usual as well.

My preferred song of the album is the title track. Again, this long song (just under twelve minutes) starts with a great instrumental part. It is very diversified, harmonious : just beautiful music.

The first song sounding a bit like PFM (mostly due to the vocals) is the short "Nature's Way". It is rather strange that the shortest song is one of the most complex of the whole. It shows strong relations with their previous works.

A song as "Illusion" is full of melody and poetry. Sweet, subtle, light. One thing though upsets me a bit since the start of this album and is put more in evidence in this song. I have been quite positive about Dino (the lead singer) so far, but I find him not as good as before on this album. Although several people think he is a weak link in the band, I have never felt so, but in this particular track he is not really good. On the contrary, the final intrumental section is very pleasant.

"Nightmare" is a good song but only in the instrumental parts (which is the majority of these seven minutes). The closing number "October Winds" has a medieval mood which is not really great. It might be a song too much (but Cast is used to produced lenghtly albums, like TFK and Mostly Autumn).

The minus point on this album is Dino on the lead vocal. But it is the first time in their long career that I make such a comment (and this is my twelfth Cast review), so maybe it was just not his time.

I know that the band will be in Europe in November 2007 (in Germany for a prog convention and in The Netherlands as well). I will try and push to get a concert organized in Belgium (at the Spirit Of 66 of course). The place is fifty KM from the German and the Dutch border. About 100 KM from Luxemburg and France. So if it takes place (I'll keep you posted), give Cast a try : they deserve it.

Three stars.

Report this review (#125947)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars This isn't as good as the "Angels And Demons" album released five years earlier but it has it's moments. My main problem is how loud the drums are mixed into the sound. Way too outfront much of the time.

"Castopolis" builds then settles in.The guitar solos for a while then the flute leads 3 minutes in.The guitar is back late. "Movieland" is keyboard led and the tempo picks up around 3 minutes followed by guitar.Vocals 6 minutes in for the first time. "Yuridia" opens with piano and atmosphere as fragile vocals join in.This is cool. "Never Expect Them To Smile" is the longest song at around 14 minutes. Piano and guitar lead early as reserved vocals join in. Drums around 2 minutes but way too loud. Otherwise I really like this.Guitar takes the lead before 8 minutes. It settles with piano 9 1/2 minutes in then builds.

"Infinity" builds quickly with ripping guitar and powerful drums. It does settle back.Vocals after 3 minutes. It settles right down late to end it. "Nature's Way" is vocal led with lots of keys too. A fuller sound before 1 1/2 minutes with some lead guitar. "Illusion" is mellow to start then it changes after 1 1/2 minutes and the vocals join in. I like this except for the drums. A good instrumental section comes in late to end it. "Nightmare" opens with fragile vocals and keyboards.This has an almost haunting atmosphere. It does pick up though. "October Winds" is an ethnic Folk-like track. A good beat with flute starts to lead at one point. Not a bad track.

Barely 3 stars for me.

Report this review (#397650)
Posted Thursday, February 10, 2011 | Review Permalink

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