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Xaal Seconde Ere album cover
3.85 | 34 ratings | 5 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1995

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Rah (9:04)
2. Jamais Tranquille (5:57)
3. Al Abad (10:34)
4. Pičge (6:49)
5. Force (6:24)

Total Time: 38:48

Line-up / Musicians

- Patrick Boileau / drums, synthesizers
- Jad Ayache / guitar, synthesizers
- Nicolas Neimer / fretless bass
- Alex Ferrand / saxophone
- Nicolas Genčt / trumpet

Releases information

CD Musea Records FGBG 4149 (1995)

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XAAL Seconde Ere ratings distribution

(34 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(65%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

XAAL Seconde Ere reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Recorded in 1993 but only released by Musea Records two years later, when Xaal had already broken up, "Second Ere" is an outstanding elegy for a band so young and that has done some great input for the 90s progressive scene in such a short time. Going for a deeper exploration of the eclectic approach to zheul, jazz-rock, heavy psychedelia and Crimsonian vibe delivered in "En Chemin", this sophomore effort puts a special emphasis on contrast between the aggressive and subtle sides of Xaal's music. This second age is one of a tighter focus on two main sources, approaching the writing and arranging procedures from there. With greyish synth layers properly adorned with percussive touches and soaring guitar nuances we witness the start of 'Rah', leading shortly after to a pulsationally based section that reminds us of Magma-meets-Present. The presence of Arabic undertones helps to maintain some mysterious aura for a few climatic passages. The exotic vibe is enhanced on track 2, 'Jamais Tranquille'. Its rhythmic cadences and harmonic developments brings us to North African landscapes; the bass guitar's phrases add an exquisiteness to a wall of sound that, halfway through, augments its tense intensity on the wings of the guitar lines. This harder section sounds like a lost piece from King Crimson's Red era as if performed by cuya cadencia rítmica y armonías sobregrabadas de guitarras nos remiten a paisajes Shylock trying to emulate Primus - believe me, I couldn't come up with a better analogy to complete this description, my apologies. With its 10 ˝ minute timespan, 'Al Abad' is the longest piece in teh album. Returning to the Arabic textures, 'Al Abad' starts on a heavily contemplative note, reminiscing of early 70s Weather Report: the serene sax lines provided by guest Ferrand reinforce this impression. The guitar solo that follows in not as jazzy: sounding more like a mixture of Steve Hillage and Chris Karrer, it sets a hard psychedelic tone fluidly framed in the overall fusionesque structure. 'Pičge' starts with a languid cadence tha resembles the preceding track, but the level of tension is noticeably higher due to the rhythm duo's tribal spur and the agile, neurotic lead guitar's phrases. It's just a matter of time that the band shifts into a more extrovrted section, which is when the bands makes a powerful jazz-rock statement weirdly augmented by spacey synthesizer ornaments. I feel like the potential climax is not completely capitalized, since the abrupt ending comes a bit too early to my taste. This factor is properly resolved in the closer 'Force', a piece that finds the band (once again) revitaliazing the heritages of Shylock and avant-prog-jazz (a bit of Magma, a bit of Potemkine). The guitar solo is infinitely electrifying, very McLaughlinesque. The presence of guest horn players helps to reinforce the track's rhythmic structure, with the drummer also finding some room to let his individual proficiency shine. It is a real pity that this album didn't even reach the 40 minute mark: too short, indeed. Anyway, when you look back in the eraly stages of te hso-called 90s prog revival and focus on a appreciation of Xaal's discography, you might as well label them as the missing link between the avant-side of 70s French prog and the sonic achievements of current French bands such as Taal and NeBeLNeST.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars XAAL were a three piece instrumental band from France who put out two very good albums in the nineties. This their final one is a powerful, dark and spacey affair with Rio / Zeuhl / Jazz references, in fact I was surprised at how MAGAM-like it is in places. Like the debut there are two guest horn players adding to the sound. One is Alex Ferrand who plays sax here. He's actually a good singer too and has sung on both MAGMA and OFFERING studio albums.That reminds me that on XAAL's debut they had the Guillard brothers on horns who played in both MAGMA and WEIDORJE.

"Rah" opens with this dark and powerful atmosphere as drums and other sounds come and go. I'm thinking of the band PRESENT here or UNIVERS ZERO.These angelic vocals come out of nowhere 4 1/2 minutes in and they disappear just as fast. It then kicks in heavily with guitar. A calm 6 minutes in and it turns haunting a minute later. Great sound when it kicks back in at 8 minutes. A very MAGMA-like rhythm here as guitar plays over top. "Jamis Tranquille" features some beautiful guitar and bass. I'm reminded of GORDIAN KNOT here. It builds 2 1/2 minutes in until they're rocking pretty good at the 3 minute mark.The tempo picks up before 4 1/2 minutes and we get a big finish.

"Al Abad" is dark as the guitar slowly comes and goes. It stays 1 1/2 minutes in with light drums and bass. Sax before 2 1/2 minutes takes the guitars place and leads for about 5 minutes then the guitar returns replacing the sax. The guitar is screaming before 9 1/2 minutes. "Piege" opens with drums and other sparse sounds follow. It kicks in before 2 1/2 minutes with guitar leading the way. The tempo picks up 4 1/2 minutes in and this sounds so much like MAGMA as the guitar plays over top. "Force" opens with synths,drums and fat bass lines (MAGMA-like).The guitar before 2 1/2 minutes sounds amazing. The guitar backs off before 5 minutes as synths take over.

Easily 4 stars.

Review by Sagichim
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Xaal (or should be pronounced as Zal) are basically a french trio formed in the late 80's led by Nicolas Neimer on bass, Jad Ayache on guitars and synths and Patrick Boileau on drums. Both their albums and one EP included other musicians to spice up their sound and ideas, mostly by trumpet and saxophone. I don't think their RIO/Avant tag is justifiable, it could be very misleading to those who don't connect with this genre, they are really much more Crimsonian Zehul fusion than anything else. Their first album was actually a cross between those genres but it seems that here, in their second album they have decreased their fusion influences and mostly concentrated on much more heavier Zehulic sound, reminding me often of Crimson, Magma (without the vocals) and a little bit of Univers Zero for the atmosphere. Xaal really takes all those influences and efficiently mix them together to come up with something that is really their own. It's not really fusion, you can't really call it Jazz and it is certainly not metal, it is simply modern progressive rock that doesn't scatter to all directions but is focused and directed straight between your eyes.

Seconde Ere is not only relatively short but it also hits the target it's aiming for. It's recorded better than before and that's the reason it sounds fresher and definitely stronger. The material is precisely written and confidently executed. The album is strictly instrumental, but doesn't hold any complex or sophisticated arrangements, on the other hand what it has to offer is effective arrangements mostly leaning on improvisation, good ones too.

Nicolas Neimer has a punchy and grainy kind of sound, he uses a fretless bass and he's a very competent player, soft and caressing at times but can also be very fierce like a lot of Zehul bass players (Paganotti comes to mind here). Just check out his beautiful intro on "Jamais Tranquille" very tasteful and classy, I would rank this as one of my favorite fretless bass lines. Jad Ayache doesn't carry the endless soloing sin, his solos are in the right place and in the right lenth. On top of it he has all kinds of beautiful and imaginative leads, check out "Piege" for its cool minimalistic guitar intro lead. And finally Patrick Boileau on drums can be very jazzy but also very angry and violent, like a storm coming out of nowhere. Together they are not trying to sound polished at all, like almost every metal band that embraces that perfect production where every beat is on the spot. Instead they are very loose and I wouldn't be surprised if this was recorded live in the studio.

For some people the creation of the universe could have happened to the sounds of "What A Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong but others (cynics) might say it's this album's frightening opener "Rah". It opens up with a deep and low sound almost like a volcano is about to burst, then three notes appear and the tension is starting to build on top of them, it then calms for just a few seconds with a devine choir, like the lord is looking down smiling upon what he has done but then everything goes to hell with the album's first violent attack. Another thing about Xaal is the contrast they have in styles and sometimes within the same song. For example "Jamais Tranquille" (or maybe should have better been called The Great Flood) have a beautiful first part as I've mentioned before but then looses it when the mighty tornado is unleashed staring the three french men, it's like somebody has pissed them off. They are taking no prisoners on this one and simply demolishes everything, it's definitely my favorite piece here. On the other hand "Al Abad" starts with a mysterious calm haunting atmosphere and then continues to a long jazzy improvisation including guiar solos and a saxophone paddling in the arabian ocean.

"Piege" is another highlight adopting once again the fusion between quiet and aggressive, some good motifs and an effective change between different moods leaning on a remarkable bass work. But it seems Xaal have saved a lot of energies for the closing track "Force". A violent and aggressive coda that destroys the earth completely, nothing can stand in the way of those drums, having no problem keeping up with the already possessed guitar player featuring a manic guitar solo on top of that solid and punchy bass line. An end that leaves you wanting for more.

It seems Xaal have achieved the goals they have set for them selves and now can secretly vanish away without anyone noticing. This last recording catches them in great shape and is recommended to anyone who likes the more disturbing, aggressive but sensitive side of Zehul. A well deserved 4 stars.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Before beginning my review, it would like to emphasize that I am not an admirer of the R.I.O style, with some rare exceptions among which I can detach the Swedish band Samla Mammas Manna, however, the the French band XAAL, gets me to please in many aspects, and the main of them is the beautiful ... (read more)

Report this review (#437883) | Posted by maryes | Friday, April 22, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Sensational follow-up from this mysterious power trio. 'Though unsatisfyingly short in length it's a dizzying object lesson in RIO, zeuhl, and jazz. All instrumental, with a great flair for melody and tension this is, to my mind, real progressive metal. Similar to Japan's Happy Family. ... (read more)

Report this review (#85534) | Posted by Yukorin | Thursday, August 3, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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