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Phideaux Chupacabras album cover
3.85 | 298 ratings | 23 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Okay (2:06)
2. Chupacabras (20:42)
- a) Supper's Calling
- b) The Shepherdess
- c) A Brief History Of Truth And Beauty
- d) Chupacabras Stomp
- e) Get My Goat
- f) Study & Review
- g) The Gift
3. Party (5:17)
4. Fortress Of Sand (5:06)
5. Ruffian On The Stairs (2:59)
6. Sunburnt (2:50)
7. Return Of the Ruffian (4:17)
8. Titan (5:15)

Total Time: 48:34

Line-up / Musicians

- Ariel Farber / vocals, violin
- Valerie Gracious / vocals
- Linda Ruttan / vocals
- Molly Ruttan / vocals, percussion
- Gabriel Moffat / electric & lap steel guitars, producer
- Phideaux Xavier / piano, acoustic guitar, vocals
- Mark Sherkus / keyboards
- Johnny Unicorn / keyboards, saxophone, vocals
- Mathew Kennedy / bass
- Richard Hutchins / drums, percussion

- Stefanie Fife / cello
- Devon Moffat / vocals, voice of youth
- Sydney Moffat / vocals, voice of youth
- Kelci Moffat / voice of youth

Releases information

Artwork: Linda Ruttan

CD Bloodfish Music ‎- zyz-1777 (2005, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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PHIDEAUX Chupacabras ratings distribution

(298 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(52%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

PHIDEAUX Chupacabras reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Phideaux Xavier is a multi instrumentalist and singer. He and Richard Hutchins the drummer are the two full time members, while a host of musicians take part in his projects.

"Chupacabras" is their fourth studio record, and is actually made up of unfinished songs from the past, or songs that weren't right for past records. As Phideaux says this record "is a repository for all those difficult orphan songs". To say these are just second rate leftovers would not only be wrong, but the opposite is actually the truth. The song "Chupacabras" was originally to be on the "Fiendish" record, but they decided it "would overshadow and consume what was hoped would be a more easily digestible album". So it was dropped from that project before it was completed. And so with the trilogy, songs 5-7 were to be on the "Ghost Story" record but were left off "another case of a song consuming the vibe of an album" says Phideaux. The final song "Titan" was started during the "Fiendish" effort but never finished and Phideaux says that this song is "The gemstone among the spoils". So these are not only great songs, but there is a continuity that you wouldn't normally get with such a project.

"Okay" is like an instrumental opening for "Chupacabras". The song "Titan" is a reprise to the song "Fortress of Sand'. And of course there is the trilogy. Which really leaves "Party" as the one that doesn't seem to belong.

Now to the music. The song "Okay" is a short 2 minute intro that begins with heavy organ followed by flute and male and female singing without words. The self titled song "Chupacaras" is an epic with lots of time changes, male and female singing, flute, mellotron, piano, samples, sax, organ, synths, cello, guitars and drums. It all works perfectly for an awesome song, all 20 minutes of it. The song "Party" has an eighties feel to it. "Fortress Of Sand" begins with mellotron, then Phideaux singing which sounds processed here, very ambient. Then some beautiful gentle guitar and piano. It's mostly instumental.The trilogy is loud and proud, it smokes. Theatrical vocals as well. This trilogy is about the "Dark examination of self disillusion and the death of ego". And then we have the last song "Titan". This is my favourite song on the record, it has such a PORCUPINE TREE feel to it.

4.5 stars.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The inmates that took over the asylum

Phideaux made huge waves in the progressive community last year when he released the colossal Doomsday Afternoon to much praise. Though in Canada his cds can be incredibly difficult to track down I eventually got to listen to Doomsday was was quite pleasantly surprised at just how good this guy could be. His combination of retro soundscapes and instruments blended together with his uniquely chilling voice and hauntingly beautiful lyrics make for a formidable force! Of course when looking for recommendations for the next album I should get by this apparent genius I was told by someone who'd known about Phideaux for much longer that this album was even better than Doomsday, just less appreciated. Well, after weeks of waiting for it to come in the mail my first listen of this album left me absolutely breathless. It's hard to wrap my head around just how good this album is!

The album itself is mostly a collection of songs that didn't make it on to other albums. But no, this is no b-side collection. The songs may have been left on the cutting room floor, but only because (as he mentions in the liner notes) Phideaux felt that each of the songs would overpower the rest of the album that they were supposed to be on. In other words, these are the best Phideaux tracks that he'd recorded and left out just because they were too good.

In terms of style we're looking at a different beast than the one who recorded Doomsday Afternoon. This Phideaux is heavier, less symphonic and at the same time more dark than the music he would later record. A pleasant treat since it's always good to see a new artist (well, he's not really that new) being so dynamic - this makes for a promising future - but people who have followed him for a while already knew that. The album is not a concept piece as is some of his later works but themes are still reused at points throughout the album to make for a very cohesive piece, although this one is a lot more eclectic in levels of heaviness and general volume going through the disc.

We start, after the short and chilling intro Okay (given atmosphere with a melancholic female voicing), by jumping strait into the piece that would have overpowered his Fiendish album. Chupacabras is a 20-minute pomp-prog epic that ''would just not stop''. This track alone is simply amazing, stunningly emotional guitar work in between some more upbeat sections make for some great hooks and sections. Obvious nods to Genesis with subtitles in the song like Supper's Calling. It's very easy to see where this track could overpower an album. Party is a much shorter song 14 years in the making (recorded as a demo in '90 and worked on again in '97 and finally finished in '04), this one a lot better than the title would suggest. Very fine short form prog, this one really paints a picture of some sort of dark and scary masquerade ball. Guitars are more subtle with the rhythm section taking charge of the more simple lyrics commanded by Phideaux's chilling voice. All in all a great tune that brings us into the next section of the album. Fortress Of Send is a drawn out slow and melancholic instrumental that takes themes from the title cut and the later Titan making for a very calm and relaxing tune.

And now it's time to rock out. The second suit on the album (broken into three tracks, but still one cohesive song) is one that was supposed to be on Ghost Story but was too likely to overpower it. This one changes the speed of the album rapidly as the first section of the song, Ruffian On The Stairs begins with a chaotic bang and presses forwards at full speed before finally slowing off allowing the Sunburnt section of the song to lull along until the climax, Return Of The Ruffian (featuring some pg-13 lyrics). This one is a lot shorter than the title cut (this one totaling about 9 minutes), but thanks to it's unique style (within the album) it's just as effective. The album finishes with another song left off of Fiendish in the form of Titan. This is a cut a lot more similar to what we'd become used to with Phideaux in the future, this one sounds like it could just have easily been recorded for Doomsday Afternoon. More mellow and emotional than it's predecessor this one finishes the album very well.

If you liked Doomsday Afternoon in any way, shape or form you should be seeking this album. Not exactly the same in terms of style, this one has a very unique feel which gives it a great amount of life. 4.5 parties out of 5! It's hard to believe just how good this album is. Let Phideaux wow you for a while.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars This album's genesis brings us back in the days of the "Fiendish" recordings. Phideaux had already worked on an epic song but it was not finalized yet to be included on this album. "Chupacabras" is now the centrepiece of this one.

Over twenty minutes of fully progressive music (gone are the poor days of his first two releases). There are lots of different themes, often flirting with the symphonic style I like so much.

The whole song is amazing and features beautiful female vocals (Valerie Gracious). It reminds me at times the great "Genesis" or the early Oldfield and maybe therefore pleases me so much. Don't get me wrong: this song is not at all derivative. It is a fully original number offering a great musical experience. It is almost love at first sight.

Surprisingly melodic, it also features some pastoral and more folkish parts. The finale brings us back where it started, which is one of the characteristics of an epic, right?

If ever you are interested in the full story about the album "Chupacabras", you can read Phideaux souvenirs about it on his myspace blog (available from his official website). It is very instructive.

The second central piece of this album is the "Ruffian" suite. A three parts song which clocks at just over ten minutes. The mood is much heavier and dark and intriguing during "Ruffian On The Stairs": it is almost prog-metal oriented! While "Sunburnt" is a more classic Phideaux track which is nicely prolonged with "Return Of The Ruffian" which is my favourite section. Somewhat new-wave oriented (Ultravox!). But I also like this.

The closing song "Titan" was also started during the "Fiendish" sessions but was never finished. The dual vocals (again Valerie) are superb: another great moment of this album. It also conveys some folk atmosphere and could have been played by "Mostly Autumn". A very good song.

The problem of this album is that all the songs are overshadowed by "Chupacabras, mon amour" (as Phideaux calls it) even if all the other ones are good to very good (except "Party").

This album is on par with the prior "Ghost Story". Four stars.

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars Given that "Chupacabras" comprises material from various phases of Phideaux' career that, for whatever reason, could not be delivered at the time of conception, this album is not only excellent but also remarkably cohesive. Skewed as it is by the transcendent and triumphant 20 minute title track, the rest contains enough pleasures to please most of us.

The namesake for the album is a beast from Mexican mythology that appears to slay its victims in large numbers every few years and drinks all their blood. Phideaux tells its story from the perspective of the creature, and whatever he may mean metaphorically, the exercise works on a lyrical level. But it is in the symphonic meets old-west core that this creature thrives. The many phases integrate splendidly both vocally and instrumentally and the use of special effects like the bleating of the soon-to-be victims is also a stroke of prog genius. One of my favourite parts is inspired by the southwestern locale where the chupacabra strikes, and features banjo-like strumming that might be a dobro perhaps. The opening cut of the album is an instrumental that flows into the epic as though it were composed for that purpose (which perhaps it was).

While the rest of the album clearly falls below the standards set by "Chupacabras", Phideaux wisely juxtaposes it with the glam oriented "Party Party". At first I just thought of it as a trite David Bowie knockoff but it has grown on me thanks to the sinister lyrics. Exactly what type of a party is this where you have to play along or be absorbed? "Fortress of Sand" is almost entirely instrumental after the ethereal beginning, becoming a reflective and effective guitar solo. The "Ruffian" duo show the harsher side of Phideaux that lacks his characteristic shadings and suffers for it, but in the closer "Titan" he gets back to what he does best, that slightly spacey British vibe that begins slowly and quietly before busting out.

Phideaux, for all his influences, is an original talent who, at his best as on most of this album, manages to consciously produce old style symphonic progressive rock that is indulgent without being self-important. It is there where he surpasses most of his influences.

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's difficult for me not to reflect over the irony of this album. It was created out of pieces left out of previous releases because they wouldn't fit in, in fear for them to overshadow the rest of the album. Chupacabras is basically two long suites with a few interspersed songs, and the twenty-one minutes of the title track still manages to completely dominate the album. In all honesty, I listen to Chupacabras mostly for - Chupacabras.

After the gorgeous half-symphonic, half-space 'intro' (Okay) with lush keys, restrained and echoing guitar, spooky deep choir effects and somewhat sad female vocals, Phideaux and cohort already have me wrapped around their little finger with that atmospheric tractor beam. And then it unfolds, one of the greatest journeys of modern prog, a musical piece that just resonates with me, an instant click. And to further indulge in clichés; just chemistry.

The beginnings are quite humble: a pounding bass drum, some simple piano, some swirly effects and an understated guitar. Bass guitar joins in.and off we go. A wonderful release of pressure that never really looses momentum after that. There are outbursts of guitar, both electric and acoustic, powerful hooks, sensational duels between male and female vocals, an amazing middle section with pseudo-country guitar that surprises by growing into a manifestation of raw emotion coupled with the sounds of flute, strings and a distant bagpipe. Everything oozes emotion, everything oozes fresh, new, inspired! I love the vocal delivery: vulnerable, yet powerful and extremely honest. There are some wonderful vocal arrangements to be found on Chupacabras. Perhaps the perfect realisation of how to mix the old with the new, fusing more accessible alt rock tendencies with symphonic and space/psych prog, and by stretching it a little - even touches of folk. It's a unique experience, putting this composition alongside other hard-to-define artists such as Mike Oldfield.

Recovering after this experience requires some time, and I've actually listened to the other tracks separately just to give them some sort of justice.

Party is a nice, sinister and quite dark effort, with less emphasis on the symphonic aspects and a defining character in that it makes you feel rather uneasy. Sometimes hypnotic vocals, the song relies on lyrics more than musical power, but the subdued textural guitars and the cold electronic keys are actually quite pleasing.

After the (more or less) extended guitar 'solo' that is Fortress of Sand, the second suite of the album begins. Going by the name Ruffian On The Stairs, it's actually three separate songs flowing into each other. Brutal, uncompromising hardcore guitar clashes with everything else heard so far, and the rest of the song have a flair of metal to it altogether, from the vocal delivery to the general mood. Effective, yes, but a little blunt in comparison to what's going on otherwise. The vague nu-metal vibes I get from Sunburnt is not particularly pleasing either, but it manages to develop into a rolling piano ending of just the sort I love. Revisiting familiar sounds on Return of the Ruffian, Titan then closes the album on a mellow and reflecting note, once again carried by vocals and guitars.

There's really not much to say. There's an absolute masterpiece, over twenty minutes long, and most of the other material pleases me enough to make the rating.

.a solid 4 stars, and please treat yourself with the title track!


Review by Menswear
5 stars Google pictures of Chupacabras for fun....creepy!

'I am beauty...' Phideaux repeats in his 20 minutes epic; and boy is he right. Beauty is the word describing this fantastic track worthy of the best moments of Doomsday Afternoon. Yes, Phideaux's last record is a true masterpiece, really. But Chupacabras, despite being a miscellaneous amalgam of songs, is showing lots of coherence in it's total!

I tried the Great Leap, and it didn't click one second. Why? Because Phideaux is a great, no, a master at epics. He got it right here, it shows he understood how the human brain works. For instance, the track Chupacabras has a recurrent musical theme, coming and going like a catchy chorus. This recipe for epics is very effective and follows a clear, but unsurprising path. Building around that snappy refrain, Phideaux is knitting 20 minutes of pure melody, mixing his inimitable style of singing with Valerie Gracious' voice I guess.

From slide metal acoustic guitar to celtic woodwinds, grand piano and sitar, the whole album is a beautiful but too short moment with Xavier Phideaux and crew. And remember, this is not a walk in the park on track 5. Wow, it really ripped the skin off my ears the first time I heard it. Aggressive stuff strangely; a side we almost never see in a Phideaux' record. Finally, the guy is not aiming at competition towards Dream Theater for musical fireworks here. So for all the picky proggers looking for skills, here it's good songs but with no tabasco.

Not complex but sooooo beautiful!

Review by CCVP
4 stars A very good album, if you ask me

A year after the average Ghost Story, Phidieaux Xavier is back with new album, which is MUCH better than its predecessor, which goes by the name of the legendary creature called Chupacabras.

Besides being released at 2005, Chupacabras have the same basic structure (and length) of many traditional progressive rock albums: an intro, the first epic, some songs in the middle and the closing / last epic (which also has the outro). However, the similarities between the 70's and Phideaux Xavier don't go much further from here, since his music fits perfectly in the modern prog, the prog of our time. Actually, it is with Chupacabras that Phideaux and his band finally enter the realms of progressive rock.

Possibly other said this, but I think it is still important to say that most of this album was made from leftover songs and little bits of songs from early Phideaux Xavier projects that were reworked, put together and, to some degree, rewritten and recomposed, resulting in this great album.

The highlights go to all songs, except Party. By the way, you may think that such a balanced album should get a better grade, but, to be quite frank, despite most songs being good they do not are masterpieces. They are just good songs.

Grade and Final Thoughts

Chupacabras was the second Phideaux album I ever listened, right after Doomsday Afternoon, and it is still one of my favorite Phideaux albums. Great music and some pretty good songs (specially the epics) definitely makes this album a very good representative of the progressive rock scene during the first decade of the new millennium.

Review by Roland113
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In My Not So Humble Opinion:

"Chupacabras" by Phideaux shows signs of the brilliance that is to come.

So I reentered the prog scene in mid two thousand seven and ended up getting a lot of music during that first half of a year. I kept hearing about how good "Doomsday Afternoon" was, but hadn't quite gotten around to Phideaux as of yet. At the same time, I happened to catch the Sea Lab 2021 episode "Isla de Chupacabra" and let me tell you, it was friggin hysterical. The Chupacabra became my for a year. At one point, I did a search in iTunes on Chupacabras and lo and behold, there was this Phideaux guy that I'd been meaning to get into. It was fate. I immediately bought it from iTunes and the rest as they say, is blood goat sucking history.

The production on this album is fantastic, every instrument is well balanced. Phideaux and company did a great job of mixing this album. Furthermore, I love Phideaux' voice; his vocals are usually mixed with only a little reverb allowing his voice to ring, crystal clear, above the band.

"Okay" is a two minute intro piece that sets the appropriate mood for "Chupacabras"; my impression is that it's a moment for the listener to clear their mind, finish up any stray thoughts and concentrate on the matter at hand, mainly "Chupacabras" (the song).

"Chupacabras" is a twenty minute romp through the life of a mythical creature found in the southwestern portion of the United States known for it's fondness of sucking out the blood of goats. After a moment of eerie atmospheric soundscape, the band comes in with an upbeat rolling rhythm and eventually Phideaux' surprisingly upbeat vocals. Not what I was expecting at first, though it's sung from the viewpoint of the chupacabra itself; if you think about it, it makes sense. The chupacabra doesn't care that he's feared. He's just a predator beginning a night of hunting. The upbeat section continues on for a few moments through "Supper's Calling" and slows down for "The Shepherdess" section.

The next section exemplifies my biggest issue with this album; at times the lyrics lack the sophistication of Phideaux' later works. The beginning lyrics of "A Brief History of Truth and Beauty" are as follows:

"I will live again, Up from the air of my succulent lair I will rise anew, Into the wind I will move my wings I will feed again, Drain to the depths with my clean teeth and breath"

Umm, "My succulent lair"? ok, I checked the Webster online dictionary, cause I didn't know what he meant here. Succulent ? a) full of juice? b) moist and tasty? c) having fleshy tissues that conserve juice? d) rich in interest? I'll be honest, I'm really not certain how his lair could be succulent, ok, maybe it could be full of interest, but that's kind of a stretch. Even so, this is followed up with the beastie using its clean breath to drain it's prey? Lyrically, this is weak.

On the other hand, the "Get my Goat" part is absolutely brilliant. The beginning goat sound effects add just a bit of amusement before the slide guitar comes in and . . . oh my goodness, this has inspired a new found love of slide guitar. The guitar continues on and gradually has more and more pieces added; Mellotron, flutes, cello, pipes; absolutely stunning piece of music. From there, the piece finishes out with a reference back to the first section, another bit of Phideaux' singing brought to center stage and finally a big ending. Despite the lyrical snafu in the middle, this is a fantastic piece and worth the price of admission.

Unfortunately, the CD has now peaked and goes downhill from here. "Party" is a fairly down tempo gothic sounding tune about vampires as best as I can tell. I'm not certain who's singing at this point, but the "it's not nice to leave before the party is over" line is so over the top in both drama and effects that it really makes me shake my head in bewilderment. The rest of the song reminds me of a mid eighties tune by either "Depeche Mode" or "New Order", it's kind of cool and retroesque, though not what I would have hoped for after the magnificent title track. The highlight of "Party" is the vocal interplay at the very end.

"Fortress of Sand" is a nice piece, very minimalist and atmospheric, probably the second best song on the CD.

"Ruffian on the Stairs" is the first part of the 'Ruffian' epic and not my favorite piece of work. It starts with kind of a punk feel and goes back to the goth feel, with Phideaux sounding like he's purposely singing flat for the effect. "Sunburnt" is kind of enjoyable, there are some nice piano licks towards the end, which leads right into "Return of the Ruffian". I think about half of the song is occupied by the underwhelming lyrics "Ruff Ruff Ruff Ruffian on the stairs, F*** with me don't F*** with me," repeated entirely too much. For me this is the biggest example of the sub-par lyrics on this CD. I can appreciate the F bomb when it's making an emphatic point, but as a call and answer it seems juvenile.

"Titan" is pretty and also one of the better songs on the CD. It's a tender ballad with a neo-prog sounding buildup, crescendoing towards the end with a full fledged wall of sound before the final soulful lyrics by Phideaux.

All in all, the lyrics and the occasional goth sound complete with detuned lyrics detracts from the overall palatability of the CD, though the title track makes up for a lot of negatives evening this CD out at a solid three stars.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I purchased this album because it was far cheaper than Doomsday Afternoon, and it was the first Phideaux album I heard (although I did hear "Formaldehyde" courtesy of the free streaming tracks hosted on a certain website). Everyone I had spoken to about this album while I was waiting for it to arrive in the mail said pretty much the same thing: A solid four stars. I am very much inclined to agree. There's nothing here that is groundbreaking or mind-bogglingly amazing, but to be in search of that misses the point of great music, a category this album easily falls into. What may be most appealing about this record is that Phideaux uses a wide variety of instruments and textures and yet maintains a clear, coherent sound throughout that is their own. What's more, this album has encouraged me to pick up other releases by this celebrated artist.

"Okay" Heavily distorted organ and Mellotron in flute-mode make for the introduction of a two minute prelude, which gives way to a plain electric guitar, deep vocals, and stunning female vocals on top. This appetizer does what it is supposed to do- if I were not completely inclined to listen to this album, this little piece gets me wholly engrossed.

"Chupacabras" Methodical drums, slide guitar, and piano begin this monster that just wouldn't stop growing. The song very soon gets pumped up and full, with various instruments working together during what serves as a main theme. Staccato piano hammers out the chords as the first bit of proper singing comes in. The female vocals are one of the most enchanting aspects of this album, and I'm pleased that Phideaux chose to use them so liberally throughout the album. The piano progression that follows, with washes of cymbals, is an exceptionally beautiful transition. After some wind and barnyard noises (goats, notably- perhaps the supper of the chupacabra!), the piece takes a sudden curve into swamp music, bringing in a twangy Dobro and some acoustic guitar. Almost without realization, it shifts into a more Celtic-flavored part. Sometimes the male vocals are a bit loud and "squeaky," if that makes any sense, which at first really put me off, but now that I've grown accustomed to them, I can confidently say this is one of Phideaux's brightest moments.

"Party" Initially, I balked the first time I heard "Party." The thing was so flamboyant and giddy I almost skipped it out of embarrassment (and I was home alone at the time). And yet this ludicrous-sounding song plastered itself right into my subconscious, and as I found myself begrudgingly singing parts of it ("Speak, only when you are spoken to"), I knew I had to play the album again (including this song). While I'd still say the female vocal is goofy ("It's not nice to leave before the party is over"), I take no shame in saying I look forward to this incredibly quirky piece of music any time I am in the mood for the album. The lyrics make this something like the "Hotel California" of dance balls, I guess.

"Fortress of Sand" Muffled piano and vocals begin this track, right before a clean guitar begins what I consider to be the most tedious part of the album. Ultimately, it's a bland piece, since it's five minutes of post-rock that carries on with the same chord progression, and even though there is some subtle building, it can still try one's patience.

"Ruffian on the Stairs" If the previous track put anyone to sleep, this will wake them right the hell up. A barrage of heavy guitars, drumming, and distorted vocals rip right through the speakers. It's a gritty, biting song that has a fascinating refrain.

"Sunburnt" Phideaux makes great use of various guitar tones and effects in this short song. Dark vocals that almost sound a bit like Billy Idol present the lyrics.

"Return of the Ruffian" What is essentially a reprise of "Ruffian on the Stairs" is more vitriolic and fuller in sound.

"Titan" If there is one track that is not very memorable from this album, it is this final one. Every time it begins to play, I can't remember anything about it. Still, it's a peaceful respite after the wrath of what has come prior. Once again, the female vocals are enthralling, warm, and mature. While perhaps an uninspired way to end a very inspired album, "Titan" is a good work nonetheless.

Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars Excellent in almost every regard, "Chupacabras" is a fantastic blend of moods, styles, and themes, superbly composed and finely honed with a classically progressive sound which will instantly appeal to fans of the genre.

The title track is undeniably the star of the show, being a memorable display of stylish songwriting. While most of Phideaux's compositions are comparatively simple, they are undeniably beautiful, with sweeping dynamics and sounds, and "Chupacabras" is a perfect example. Melodies are powerful, yet retain an understated feel due to their simple elegance; instead, the biggest impression one will have is with the overall piece, with its many layers of synth, vocals, laid-back guitar, and efffects creating a very enjoyable listen. The mix of vocal performances is perfect, and the song's vocals educe a fun mixture of silly and poignancy. A textbook example of first-rate symphonic rock.

The supporting songs are almost as good, with the deceptively silly "Party" standing out to me due to its camp and breadth of sound. "Fortress of Sands" is an excellently dreamy instrumental, but the Ruffian Suite (consisting of three mid-length songs) is somewhat crass and uninteresting musically. Luckily, the closer "Titan" leaves the listener very satisfied, ending the album on a beautifully melodic, classy display of modern prog-rock.

Highly recommended!

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Chupacabras finds Phideaux surrounded with an extensive cast of musicians. The band fluently moves through the song material that surpasses anything else I've heard from Phideaux. Especially the 20+ minutes epic does not disappoint and is one of the best of its kind since I don't know when.

The title track is an amazing display of melodic wealth and brilliant instrumentation. This is the kind of prog epic that will both instantly charm you and that will keep growing and revealing new details during the infinite number of listens you will continue to give it. Just like the best. The instrumentation is very rich, abundant even, but never indulgent. The instruments are balanced out nicely and avoid the clutter that an inferior talent would produce with the wide array of musicians and instruments that are listed here. Even the female vocals, something I'm normally not too enthusiastic about, work very well on this album.

There's another aspect of this album that greatly appeals to me. Phideaux's songwriting and playing testifies of a great passion for what he is doing. Everything sounds so enthusiastic and spontenuous, and every detail is meticulously looked after. This is music is not manufactured by a detached professional or from an urge to impress anybody; it is simply born out of love for music. This is also apparent in the wild playfulness and imagination of a track like Ruffian on the Stairs. Phideaux sure has an eclectic taste and his music testifies of it: vintage 70's prog, art rock, 80's new wave, folk, psychedelic rock and balladry. Anything goes.

Chupacabras is an exceptionally good album that will have a great appeal to Porcupine Tree fans, but it is more proggy then PT and should please all fans of symphonic prog and prog folk. You'll find next to no rating below 4 stars on this album's page and it's fully deserved. 4.5 stars.

Review by TheGazzardian
4 stars Looking at the reviews here, it is clear that this album didn't make many waves on progarchives before the release of Doomsday Afternoon, with only two reviews having been written before the release of Phideaux's most famous and arguably best release yet.

This is somewhat of a shame, for this truly is a monstrous album (okay, that's partially a pun on the title of the album - Chupacabras - named after the goat-blood-sucking monster). It's actually pretty much made of left-over bits and pieces (the title track, Chupacabras, was originally intended for Fiendish, and the three track Ruffian suite was originally intended for Ghost Story) that didn't fit on the album that they were intended for.

There is no denying that the title track is the central piece of the album, at almost 21 minutes long taking up nearly half of the 49 minute disc. The characters in this one seem to be a Chupacabra, a shepherdess, and, well goats. It is ultimately a light-hearted track given that it's about a goat-blood-sucking monster, but that isn't really a problem here. Otherwise, the folksy/country-sy "Get My Goat" section (including goat sound effects) would sound quite out of place.

The Ruffian suite, originally intended for Ghost story and featuring the tracks Ruffian on the Stairs/Sunburnt/Return of the Ruffian, doesn't sound like anything else I have heard from Phideaux to date. It opens with fast and very heavy (although not metallic) guitars, which are reprised near the end, and it even features the only swearing I've heard in my exploration of Phideaux's music to date. Regardless, the suite features catchy moments and some rather good lyrics and themes.

This doesn't feel like it is an album made up of leftovers. If it were, one would expect the album to have a fair amount of filler, tracks that weren't used before for good reason. But really, there are no tracks on this album that match this description. Every track is pretty dang good. Beyond the two suites, both Party (which is somewhat catchy and eerie) and Titan (a very emotional piece) are of equal quality, if not quite as wide in breadth.

Ultimately, yet another great piece of music by the very talented Phideaux.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars This is an album sampler: diverse musical styles and sounds collected together around the excellent epic title song. In my opinion, it is this title song that is the only thing making this album worth owning or listening to. "Party" (7/10) and "Return of the Ruffian" (7/10) are okay. Some of it sounds like stuff that might have made Top 40 in the 80s.

"Chupacabras" (20:42) actually sounds to me like a Broadway soundtrack--with opening overture, bouncy 'opening' song with vocals, emotional second 'travel' or 'montage' instrumental song (all with a particular guitar riff [lifted from a classic rock song from the 70s or 80s--one that I can't put my finger on . . . maybe AL STEWART] stringing them together). The fourth part slows it down to introduce the female voice (narrating?). Part five is a brief percussion-with-piano-arpeggio interlude, followed immediately by the protagonist singing again (about his impending Phoenix-like rise) but then becomes a duet with the female (narrator?). Nice female vocal harmonies. He is Adonis; he is "Beauty." At 10:45 Part eight has PINK FLOYD Animals effects before turning to some country/Lousiana blues guitar and dobro sounds to carry the story further. This evolves with some synth strings and Celtic flutes and pipes into something . . . unusual. At 16:08 some crashing drums and guitars announce a shift--like a revitalization or rebirth. A mellotron and heavier guitar part ensues, finally opening into a brief announcement by the effected female voice, then bouncy piano preparing us for the reentry of the protagonist. The problem here is that the new guy, "Freedom," sounds less free, less confident, and less powerful than his previous incarnation, "Beauty."! (8/10)

Overall this is an okay album with a pretty good epic. 3 stars.

Review by russellk
2 stars Hits all the right notes, makes the right sounds, checks all the boxes... but 'Chupacabras' is, along with FROST's offerings, the exemplar of prog without soul.

Possibly that's because it's composed of outtakes from previous recording sessions, and it must be difficult to breathe life into a piece of music you've moved on from. The substandard production may also have contributed: everything (but especially the vocals) is too far forward in the mix, making listening more difficult than it ought to be. The synths hiss, buzz and hum, masking much of the music. I long for some subtlety in the piano parts, the guitar parts, anything. But in the end an album stands or falls with the quality of its compositions, and at this point in their development PHIDEAUX simply didn't write music that captivates this listener. To my ears it all sounds drearily derivative.

The title track is perhaps the most interesting, and that only for the main theme and, after ten minutes of marking time, the excellent 'Get My Goat' section. Then it's back to soulless prog for much of the rest of the disc. 'Fortress of Sand' is completely pointless. The introduction to the suite of 'Ruffian' songs is promising, but the song swiftly descends into farce with the chief culprit Phideaux Xavier's spoken vocals. The end of the suite is little more than a jumbled mess, a train wreck. Special mention must be made of Xavier's voice: devoid of expression, it sounds more suited to one of those ironic 80s synth-pop bands than a contemporary neo-prog outfit. If you're writing and performing melodic prog you must have a voice to match! It's no wonder he enlisted Valerie Gracious to share the vocals, though her voice has little more expression than his. I would have preferred him to work hard on his voice in the way, say, STEVEN WILSON did, who turned a similarly expressionless voice into a major strength.

I'm happy to report that PHIDEAUX obviously learned from their mistakes, and subsequent serious releases (I don't count '313') are much improved. I understand my opinion is a minority dissenting voice, but I would counsel approaching this album with caution. The best that can be said about it is that it is a work in progress.

Review by Warthur
5 stars On Chupacabras Phideaux plays a combination of symphonic-leaning neo-prog (particularly on the epic title track and in the Ruffian On the Stairs suite) and 80s gothic rock, with the longer tracks tending to favour the former and the shorter tracks favouring the latter. It's a mix which I admit I'm very partial to, since I'm fond of both those genres, and Phideaux proves to be a more than capable composer of songs in that particular vein. Extracting fascinating performances from his various supporting musicians, Phideaux has crafted an intriguing classic of crossover neo-prog which suggests tempting possibilities for the combination of his musical interests - possibilities which, happily, he would continue to explore in future albums.
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Phideaux Xavier was born and grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, and was a member of several bands as a youngster, before launching his solo album ''Friction'' in 1992, distributed in a limited number of copies.At the dawn of the millenium he started taking his music more seriously, releasing the more ambitious works ''Fiendish'' (2002) and ''Ghost Story'' (2003), the later showing some evident prog leanings and featuring a smaller and more easy-working line-up.His first trully Prog album though was offered in 2005, entitled ''Chupacabras'' and released privately on Bloodfish.

There is a first attempt by Phideaux here to compose a long and compelling epic, which along the opening intro ''Okay'' make up for some fantastic 23 minutes of music.This is a beautiful track, passing through several segments and offering smooth atmospheres, floating melodies and more aggressive moments.Phideaux delivers excellent modern Prog with plenty of shifting moods, going through more vocal-led and psychedelic moments to powerful and intricate instrumental themes of great quality.Maybe there are too much vocal work at moments and there is also a questionable Celtic-influnced part at the end of the track, however there is too much going on in this composition that will satisfy any lover of intricate and atmospheric Progressive Rock.The rest of the album contains another six vocal and instrumental pieces, which are not equally good, but have plenty of nice moments.The main influence seems to be PINK FLOYD (as it has been throughout Phideaux'es career) with strong doses of PORCUPINE TREE and even TALK TALK and DEPECHE MODE, while Phideaux & co. explore many different terittories with success, like Space Rock with hypnotic textures, aggresive Heavy Prog with crunchy guitars or instrumental Psychedelic Rock with background synths and distorted vocals.

This would be only the start for Phideaux Xavier for an impressive career.There are many good reasons to purchase this lovely modern Prog album, the most important being the 20-min. self-titled epic, which has tons of great moments.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars "You've lost control, you've lost your way home, out in the cold, you've lost your way home ..." Oh, Phideaux, this man ... this guy is a blessing of the modern progressive rock.After hear the wonderful "Doomsday Afternoon", I desperately needed Phideaux.And I finally heard "Chupacabras". ... (read more)

Report this review (#463120) | Posted by voliveira | Thursday, June 16, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Chupacabras is the first album of strong Phideaux. Disco in the multi-instrumentalist softly changes his tone of an alternative to a more prog symphony. Appealing to the effects beyond moogs, HAMMONDS slide guitar is sharp and the influence of YES. What I love about this artist is that it prov ... (read more)

Report this review (#426445) | Posted by nandprogger | Friday, April 1, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Nevermind the tracklisting. This album is essentially five tracks. The opener "Okay" functions more as a prelude to the title track and tracks 5 through 7 are functionally one song. This song doesn't really do anything new in the progressive music landscape, to be completely honest. It further ... (read more)

Report this review (#409034) | Posted by Gorloche | Monday, February 28, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I don't think I can give this one a full five star rating because of the impressive amount of filler material. It is still an excellent album because the rest of it is great. The title track is the main reason for this, but Titan, Fortress of sand, and Sunburnt are fine as well. The title track is ... (read more)

Report this review (#322975) | Posted by Billy Pilgrim | Tuesday, November 16, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Chupacabras is an excellent album and has turned me on to the work of Phideaux. It is captivating and diverse, but not quite perfect. The layout of the album kind of reminds me of 2112. A long suite followed by several shorter tracks. Also like 2112, the suite totally steals the show. The track ... (read more)

Report this review (#251066) | Posted by R-A-N-M-A | Tuesday, November 17, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is a typical album where it was not love at first site. At first I thought that the song Party was the only track I really liked. However the sounded great at the first listenings it keeps growing and growing on me. The album starts with a beautifull mix of soft voices, a dark male voice a ... (read more)

Report this review (#207650) | Posted by J@pie Mol | Wednesday, March 18, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I love just about everything on this album. Phideaux is one of the artists that create such a multi-layered sound that you can enjoy the various dimensions opening up as you listen to it time and again. His music is melodic, and while it has hard rock elements the melodies are never buried und ... (read more)

Report this review (#98676) | Posted by Bumblebee | Monday, November 13, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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