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Secret Chiefs 3


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5 stars I will be the first to say that I don't feel this is a progressive album in the sense of the actualy sound. Secret Chiefs 3 doesn't sound like Yes, Marillion, or Dream Theater; however, Trey Spruance's music does progress as you listen to it. So in that sense, this is indeed, a progressive album. There are also 6 bands on this album:

FORMS Ishraqiyun Traditionalists Holy Vehm The Electromagnetic Azoth UR

Each of which as either 2 or 3 songs on the album. Also, they each have a different feel to them. While Ishraqiyun is heavily influeced by Arabic and Persian tunings, The Holy Vehm is a completely new kind of metal. I would go so far as to say it is almost as dark and heavy as you can get right about now.

The difference in sound does not mean this album sounds like a huge mess though. Rather, the album has the best flow to it that I have heard on any album to date. Even the jumbled The Electromagnetic Azoth pieces, On the Wings of the Haoma and DJ Revisionist, fit the album very well even though they the most random sounding of the other pieces.

This is an album for people who are willing to lend an ear to something new and to different ways of writing music. I don't believe it is something that a casual prog listener would really have much interest in, but fan of Mr. Bungle, Meshuggah and even Sleepytime Gorilla Museum will be right at home with this album.

Report this review (#56560)
Posted Wednesday, November 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well. Here we have a very strange opus. How can Indian music, Psychedelick rock, Movie music and Death metal fit all together in an album? ''Book Of Horizons is the answer. The Trey Spruance's troop plays with a very rich bunch of instruments and of sounds effects to create, on every song, an unique feeling.

1. The End Times: This is a very beautiful entrance to the album. A very nostalgic riff is repeated ''x'' times, with differents instruments and arrangements. Everything here flows like in a brook. 8/10

2. The 4 (Great Ishraqi Sun): A strange Indian song with great musicals arrangements and excellent druming. 7/10

3. The Indestructible Drop: Small psychedelick interlude with interestings effects at the end. No too bad but it don't brings a lot to the album. 5/10

4. Exterminating Angel: A very dark and cacophonous death metal song. Lyrics may be beautiful but we can only distinguish some growlings... Some poeple may find this interesting but I'm not very fan of these kinds of music... 3/10

5. The Owl in Daylight: Begins like the end of track 3, this one is one of the gems on the album. The song changes many times of directions and of mood. The beginning is very psychedelic and strange. It changes incredibly naturally to a kind of cool balad with beautifuls synthetizer's effects and kinds of jazzy trompets at one moment. Then it turns to a very deep and sad moment with loud electric guitar and it finishes on a last psychedelic move. Wondeful piece of music. 10/10

6. The Exile: Another gem. It makes me think a little bit at a movie soundtrack. Beautiful acoustic guitar, banjo, and a wonderful orchestral arrangement. It's so deep! With it's preceding and followings tracks, the highest point of the album. 9.5/10

7. On the Wings of the Haoma: Another great song here. Very psychedelic and original. I found that this song is based on perscusions witch are truly incredibles and originals. It's very dark, but tell me why, it might sounds funny sometime. In short, a must to listen for every fans of ''Mr. Bungle'' or ''Sleepytime Gorilla Museum'' (like Spanky mentioned it). 9/10

8. Book T: Exodus: WOW! THIS is music. Really I don't know what to say about it. It's just too beautiful. Another ocherstral song with a lot of electric guitars, percusions and specials effects. JUST TOO GOOD! 10/10

9. Hypostasis of the Archons: Another cacophonous song... I don't know... I don't feel it... 3/10

10. The Electrotheonic Grail Dove: Strange interlude with psychedelic sounds and a fun bass line. 6/10

11. The 3 : Another good Indian song. Very intelligents riffs and good drumings. It gives me an adventurous and dark feeling. Great! 7/10

12. DJ Revisionist: Another song who change a lot of directions. Walkings between psychedelics sounds and Indians moods. This one make me realize how the album is well mixed. It's very fun to listen on a stereo or with Headphones. 7.5/10

13. Anthropomorphosis: Boxleitner: Well this is also brilliant! Excellent song switching from goods guitars riffs to very strange and beautifuls movements of keyboards. This song is also one of my favorites. 8.5/10

14. Welcome to the Theatron Animatronique: The only thing I can say is that this is a wonderful closure. Wonderfuls keyboard riffs, and a last orchestral performance replaying pieces of the first track. It goes then to a wonderful and original voices chorus accompanied by keyboards. Everything here is so perfect! I love it. PS. The last 15 seconds of the albums are pure wonders ;-). 10/10

Finnaly, Book of Horizon IS for me, a masterpiece. It's only weekpoint are the death metal songs. But maybe i'll enjoy them later, I don't know... Anyway for this, I give only 4 stars... But believe me it worth the cost! It's wonderful! And it's an other world! BUY THIS!

Report this review (#56603)
Posted Wednesday, November 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars A polarized album.

Secret Chiefs 3 is yet another very good American avant-garde band (RIO and avant prog is the only prog sub-genre where America is top of the heap), a genre I have recently been getting very much into (both the European and American ends of things), and one I have very much enjoyed, largely due to the enormous wealth of excellent material found within it. This album (well, most of it, anyway) is no exception. It is an absolutely wonderful album, a hidden gem that cannot be ignored if you like avant- garde music (or, really, even if you don't). And yet, it still has its fair share of problems.

The biggest problem, is, as I pointed out is that it is a somewhat polarized album, meaning that it hits highs and lows separated by vast margins. The highs are very, very high, but the lows are equally low (if not more so), and thus the album is somewhat inconsistent. To be fair, this fourteen-song album has twelve highs and a mere two lows, but those two lows are rather conspicuous, and are enough to spoil most of the effect of the rest of the album. These lows are the two death metal songs, Exterminating Angel and Hypostasis of the Archons. While the rest of the album sees the Chiefs creating delightful moods and textures (even some amazing metallic moments in there, too), these two songs are busy "exterminating" the flow of the album, completely disrupting the textures created, which I don't appreciate. These songs take an otherwise perfectly flowing album (to test this, just listen to the album without the two aforementioned songs, and you'll find that it flows nearly perfectly, even across the breaks where those two songs would have been) and reduce to it to a somewhat patchy and disjointed album. Also, I'd like to point out that this isn't a personal vendetta against death metal songs. There are plenty of such songs that I greatly enjoy (the most notable example has to be Sleepytime Gorilla Museum's Of Natural History album, one of my favorite albums of any genre and highly influenced by death metal). What particularly bothers me here is that, no matter how good those two songs might have been, they would not have been able to get past the fact that death metal just doesn't fit in with the vision of the rest of this album. It's only made worse by the fact that they just aren't very good in the first place.

But, after that long rant which may well have completely turned you off the album, I'd like to redeem it. Because, those twelve highs are truly quite high, and you won't want to miss it. Secret Chiefs 3 blend a variety of influences and styles, from avant-garde to metal (instrumental, unlike the death metal tracks, and much more fitting to the theme of the album) to symphonic to ethnic to a little bit of just about everything else, and the Chiefs make it all work to perfection. There is a sweeping grandeur to some tracks, an ominous nature to others, but more importantly, they are all great songs individually, and they all fit on the album. It's impossible to pick a favorite, because I find myself enjoying nearly equally the almost post-rock of The End Times and the ethnic The 4 (Great Ishraqi Sun); I find the crazy avant-garde nature of On the Wings of the Haoma just as endearing as the movie soundtrack-esque Book T: Exodus. It's all very good, done in an intelligent manner, the result is an amazing album. The band members display a stunning grasp of the technique of using music to create moods and textures, but never lapse towards boredom. There is always energy in some form or another, and that is one of the greatest things I can say about any album.

Nevertheless, I can't treat the two death metal tracks as non-existent for the sake of this review, because they are most conspicuously present. What I can do (and what I strongly urge all of you to do after your initial listen), thankfully, is treat them as non-existent when I listen to the album. What I mean is that I can skip over them without (as I said earlier) disrupting the flow of the album (and, again as I said earlier, the flow improves). If you like avant-garde, this album is essential. If don't, or if you simply don't know the genre, this album is an easy way in, showing just how effective avant-garde music can be without overwhelming you. So, despite being polarized, this is a win-win album, unless you simply don't like music (though, with music like this around, I can't imagine why you wouldn't). Recommended.

Author's Note: I recently come to enjoy the death metal tracks, and so I am updating the rating to four stars. 05/07/07

Report this review (#115874)
Posted Wednesday, March 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars True masterpiece. I had shivering while listening this album for a first time. It's extremaly eclectic and complex. SC3 shows how open-ended is a prog genre. The band put surf rock, movie music, extreme metal and techno in one album but it's still coherent. Sometime it is bueautyful (Gold's Exodus), sometime heavy like hell (both Holy Vehm subband's tracks), sometime trance (The 3) but I didn't have any feel of Chaos. It's a really a long one (over 1 hour) but catches attention from the begining till the end. It's absolutelly must-to-have for Avant-rock fans, especially Mr. Bungle and Estradasphere listeners. Finally... even Pitchfork Webzine that is not fond of progrock gave the 8.2 note to this album;)
Report this review (#208539)
Posted Tuesday, March 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Book of Horizons is another fantastic album by Secret Chiefs 3 that is unfortunately marred by a couple of dreadful tracks I wish could be purged from the album. While there isn't anything overly revolutionary or new compared to their previous album, it's still a thoroughly enjoyable outing that's well worth a listen, give or take a dozen or so listens.

Much like their other albums, you can expect an uncanny mixture of different genres and styles here. All of the tracks on this album are composed by different "sub-groups", which are marked by a specific style. For instance, the tracks "The 4 (The Great Ishraqi Sun)" and "The 3 (Afghan Song)" by the sub-group Ishraqiyun have a predominantly middle-eastern sound to them. My main beef with this album are the two tracks done by the Holy Vehm sub-group, which are a couple of absolutely dreadful death metal songs. Those two tracks alone are enough to throw off the balance of the whole album, and I always find myself skipping them completely. Sure, there's plenty of quirky moments throughout the album, but at least in all of the other cases the different styles actually manage to fit together; these two tracks just seem like they were accidentally put on the wrong album and for whatever reason they decided to keep them on there just to raise a few eyebrows. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with death metal, but I don't think it works on an album like this.

But hey, if you skip those two awful tracks, the rest of the album is golden! Well worth checking out. In fact, I demand you grab a copy today. Do it.

Report this review (#254473)
Posted Sunday, December 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Book of Horizons is an important album in the Secret Chiefs 3 discography because it was the first one to overtly set out the idea of the "satellite bands" - the concept that Secret Chiefs 3 was actually a collective of bands who happen to all be led by Trey Spruance, and that explains the very different musical styles involved. Whether that was really the concept from the start or something Trey cooked up on the spot is another question, but either way Book of Horizons is another dazzlingly diverse album from this avant-garde powerhouse running the full range from rock reinterpretations of traditional Middle Eastern music to pounding death metal to progressive passages reminiscent of Goblin's classic horror soundtracks.
Report this review (#669326)
Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
5 stars Welllllllllllllll

This is, essentially, my absolute most favorite SC3 album- and that's saying something. SC3, for those who don't know, are project of weirdo/bearded Californian genius Trey Spruance. They have a bizarre combination of oriental music and instrumentation, with electronica, surf rock, death metal, and anything else really.

This album here, "Book Of Horizons", in my opinion, really has Secret Chiefs 3 taking a bit from here and a bit from there, and meshing it in ultimate way. No album, can produce beautiful, epic compositions like "The Exile", and at the same time, have two of the greatest death metal songs I have ever heard, particularly with "Hypostasis of the Archons". The band don't only display variety, but also near-perfect song-writing. Additionally, no album does ambient and thick instrumental compositions like SC3 did on this album.

So yeah. Best album of the 21st century and one of the greatest ever? Hmmm. Yeah pretty much.

This is the first album Spruance has done with the idea of the "satellite bands"- seven different bands all under one banner. All different and interesting- yet strongly unified by Spruance's unforgettable songwriting. This man is such a genius it makes me pissy. The dude just knows how to write tunes! Strange tunes, beautiful tunes, epic tunes, dissonant tunes, he can just do it, and he has the right musicians to do it. Guys like Ches Smith (drummer awesome), and Eyvind Kang (one of my favorite composers), along with a million billion absolutely brilliant musicians who pretty much play every note as right as humanly possible. I honestly wouldn't change a thing about the musicians- they just deliver the tunes the way they should be.

May I just add, again, that "Hypostasis of the Archons", is the greatest metal song I've heard in my life. Jumping over from manic guitars and screams and godly drums over and over and over. I just want to nuke Antarctica when I listen to this cutie pie.

I'm sorry, not much more to add. Listen to this album.

All hail SC3

Report this review (#728673)
Posted Sunday, April 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Only 44 ratings and 8 reviews???

The book of Horizons by Secret Chiefs 3 is a great example of a forgotten album in PROGARCHIVES!

I recently discovered the band, even being a Faith No More and Tomahawk fan. The band is conducted by Trey Spruance, a former Faith no More member, although Secret Chiefs 3 is a completely different band and concept.

The album is not easy listening stuff. it took me several trials to understand what is going on... sou you ask me: What is going on here? I can't say , but it is sure amazing stuff!!!

This album is the definition of AVANT-GARDE itself! Almost 10 years from the release and it still sounds as the newest music effort ever. The album is so complex, so diverse, innovative and beatiful that I can only highly reccomend to all open ears prog listeners

5 stars

Report this review (#959986)
Posted Thursday, May 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars "Your manuscript is both good and original,.... But the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good."- "attributed, not found.". And neither daring nor fun. Completely, pretentious and BORING. I suppose, that when you ask this band followers about Ennio Morricone or even better John Williams, the will laugh at you mockingly, IF, they have some idea, who these guys are... Indo-Tabla music, mish-mashed alongside some other "exotic" folkloric style with severe touches of "serious-music", like Mr. Morricone's sountracks?, without the movie, but with the same smell of "corn". Or like the one, that here in Mexico is known as the "Juan Torres organ Sound". Which was a guy overblown by the media, because here in Mexico, IN THOSE TIMES, was the only guy, who owned a Wurllitzer organ with a drum-box . That was it, his only talent. Some talent-less, overrated "artist". ...So, if you are really impressed, by these "exotic" languages, immersed in an over-abuse of the systematic RIO-cliches (abrupt change of time signatures, stridency, etc) with no kind of humor at all, (it is not a parody), well you will fall head over heels for this album....IF you, when listening, open-mindedly to music, which "plays" with your knowledge of music in general, and is performed with a pompous, unimaginative, pseudo classical music composition grandeure, so solemnly, with such self-indulgence, AND you still have time to enjoy, well this is also for you. . I mean, these guys take themselves so seriously, without real facts or proof. The only group that will serve my example is Henry Cow, the best parts of "Secret Chiefs3" owe and resemble this band. When HENRY COW, surfaced, it was and had to do with the moment in time world-wide. A natural musical process was evolving, as in the modern-classical compositions, "Cacophony" became a way to rebel against standarized Central-European impossitive canons in structure and importance. Nowadays, these"new-canons" are as impossitive as the ones they rebelled against, a fad, a passing "FAD".... Like a super-pretentious Henry Cow, and that is saying too much. **2.5 "what a disappointment" PA stars. Not essential , unless you own, 3 cds and are stranded in a non "exotic" place.
Report this review (#1026814)
Posted Sunday, September 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Hypnotic, creative, enjoyable: 7/10

When it comes to Avant-garde, I only know three names so far: FRANK ZAPPA, OOIOO and SECRET CHIEFS 3.

FRANK needs no introduction, OOIOO has eloquently mastered the idea of "experimentation" with the great percussion-focused TAIGA madness, and SECRET CHIEFS 3 explores three frontiers on the album BOOK OF HORIZONS: Indian, electronic and technical (AND FURIOUS!) death metal. Be warned, though: this band isn't the type that brings up insanity and calls "music". There is mild experimentation, but nothing too much of a "paradigm shifter".

The electronic part is the most "avant-garde" of the three genres. It features uncommon sonorities and structures, usually, you're unsure whether the song has begun or ended and if what you're listening to is a particular section of that track; suddenly the music stops and weird noises come in, and overall is the least interesting piece. I find it to be the weakest link.

The Indian part is great and the first track with this sonority - The Four (Great Ishraqi Sun) - is perhaps the best of the album. SECRET CHIEFS does a good job blending Western music/metal/rock elements with the oriental instrumentations and structures. The percussion is superb and counterintuitive, which really spices the music.

The last piece - death metal - is the part they masterfully nailed. Simply put, they're natural born for it. The musicianship is amazing, the drums are spectacular and the aura of each song is just as horribly heavy as any extreme metal musician would seek to achieve. Extermination Angel the fourth track and first of the genre is my favorite by SECRET CHIEFS 3, and frankly, of death metal as a whole. Hypostasis of the Archons is even fiercer and pretty much denser than a neutron star. The vocalist literally snores. Like a damn pig. It's indisputably the heaviest thing I've had the pleasure of being brutalized with.

In the end, SECRET CHIEFS 3 does a good job in bringing a good record. The most memorable songs are The Four, Extermination Angel, Hypostasis of the Archons, Anthropomorphosis: Boxleitner (an eerie track that features ALL of the three 'frontiers', albeit the death metal parts are much milder and blended with electronic) and Book T: Exodus (in the veins of epic Western movies). I'd definitively recommend for avant-garde fans, or just people looking for some spicy mixtures of electronic, oriental-themed and extreme metal music.

Report this review (#1694170)
Posted Saturday, February 18, 2017 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars "Book of Horizons" is Secret Chiefs 3's fourth album. After the amazing "Book M", it was brought to light that SC3 actually consisted of 7 satellite bands. This fact came to light on this album as each of these tracks have the name of the satellite band responsible for the track. Out of the 7, there is only one that isn't represented in this album, and that is "NT Fan". The other 6 represented on this album are "Forms", "Ishraqiyun", "Traditionalists", "Holy Vehm", "The Electromagnetic Azoth", and "UR".

The SC3 has been known to experiment and mix various musical genres, expanding them into new sounds and styles. They use traditional instruments that are unique to the culture and traditional rock instruments and electronica. This results in some very interesting and enjoyable music that is unique, yet familiar. Trey Spruance, who is the leader of this collection of bands, was previously with "Mr. Bungle", and he created SC3 with the help of 2 other members from that band. The common mistake people make when trying to define this band is that it is "Mr. Bungle" without Mike Patton, but that is not a correct definition of this music. SC3 is a completely different band from Mr. Bungle.

The album starts with "The End Times" (Forms). This is a peaceful and pensive track utilizing guitars, electric piano and some strange warbly instrument that almost sounds like a bowed saw. Percussion starts later with an interesting array of traditional instruments that I can't identify, because there are so many at use, but it has a slightly European vibe to it and it is quite beautiful and unique. There is a use of modals mixed in there that is amazing. "The 4 (The Great Ishraqi Sun)" (Ishraqiyun) has a more mid-Eastern dance vibe utilizing strings along with rabab, baglama, esraj, some micro-tuned guitars and other instruments I've never heard of along with guitars and drums. "The Indistructable Drop" (Traditionalists) is experimental and eerie using gongs, harp and organ. It's also quite short yet nice.

"Exterminating Angel" (Holy Vehm) starts out with some wild drums and a drone. After this, some crazy screaming vocals come in and then it continues with a wall of noise. Growling vocals start later, as the intensity level of this one is right off the chart on this death metal rant. "The Owl in Daylight" (Forms) uses glockenspiel, chimes, bells to create a track that starts out dark and quickly lightens up to an almost lounge jazz track with some crazy quick texture changes throughout. This track is inspired by the unfinished Phillip K. Dick novel of the same name which was being written when he passed away. With all the bells and chimes mixed later with heavy metal guitar, it sounds like a Christmas song put through the mixer from Hell. "The Exile" (Traditionalists) is almost the complete opposite from the last two track as it is a lush and beautiful melody created by strings, acoustic guitar, and so on. It sounds very cinematic, with a very western flavor at times, yet becoming very expansive.

"On the Wings of the Haoma" (The Electromagnetic Azoth) starts with some traditional percussion and electronics. But then it shifts and changes so quickly it is hard to pin it all down. The overall feel is Persian, but it is a perfect example of mixing traditional instruments with electronica and avant-prog. The middle part of it is quite experimental and ambient but by the end, it turns into surf rock. "Book T: Exodus" (UR) is based off of the movie theme from "Exodus" by Ernest Gold, but rescored for orchestra and surf band. Yep, it is, and it's amazing! ! ! ! "Hypostasis of the Archons" (Holy Vehm) is more of the death metal styling, but with a craziness that is completely unpredictable. It is scary with screams, growing and raspy vocals featuring 3 vocalists. There are some wild guitars as you would expect from this music, and constantly changing meters. Totally chaotic. "The Electrotheonic Grail Dove" (Traditionalists) is a very short track that sound like someone dropped a bowlful of musical notes on the floor.

"The 3 (Afghan Song)" (Ishraqiyan) is based on a traditional song. It uses traditional instruments again like the sitar, dohl, and so on along with synthesizers, bass and drums. "DJ Revisionist" (The Electromagnetic Azoth) also uses traditional instruments with rock instruments and electronics. Again, you get that Persian sound mixed with various rock styles that run from surf rock to avant garde and somehow it all makes sense. "Anthropomorphosis: Boxlietner" (UR) starts out with droning sounds from strings and percussion but quickly switches to an almost poppy sound with electronic instruments and a sudden influx of loud guitars and orchestral effects. This is another ever changing landscape of amazing-ness that has to be heard to be believed. "Welcome to the Theatron Animatronique" (Forms) starts with electric keys playing a middle Eastern sounding melody with other orchestral effects and textures, chimes, harp and all of that. The simple melody breaks down at parts and things get somewhat complex, but it always returns to variations of the melody played by differing lead instruments and becomes expansive and cinematic and features traditional vocals at the end.

Just like "Book M" , this album is simply amazing, but this time, since it is played by the different formations of the band, there is quite an amazing variety unlike anything I have heard lately. And every one of the tracks are so well done, nothing sounds amateurish as you might expect from a band creating so many differing styles. Where most of Book M was devoted to Persian and Afghan undertones, this album goes everywhere. Amazingly enough, there is not the feeling of disjointedness that you would expect, probably because every track is so well done. This album exceeds even the excellent Book M, which was also a 5 star affair, and you wonder how can this be even better than that? Well, you better start listening to these albums to find out.

Report this review (#2107812)
Posted Monday, December 17, 2018 | Review Permalink

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