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Demians Building an Empire album cover
3.69 | 168 ratings | 12 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Perfect Symmetry (9:19)
2. Shine (3:17)
3. Sapphire (7:27)
4. Naive (4:54)
5. Unspoken (5:59)
6. Temple (3:05)
7. Empire (6:32)
8. Sand (16:11)
9. Earth (8:48) *

Total Time 65:32

* limited edition bonus track

Line-up / Musicians

- Nicholas Chapel / composer, performer (vocals & instruments)

- Julie Légčre / spoken word (6)

Note: The actual instrumentation could not be fully confirmed at this moment.

Releases information

Artwork: Nicolas Chapel

CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMCD 293 (2008, Germany)

Thanks to Ghost Rider for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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DEMIANS Building an Empire ratings distribution

(168 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

DEMIANS Building an Empire reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
3 stars A solo project by French Nicolas Chapel who apparently only needs to have some comrades-in-arms for the live performances of DEMIANS. Steven Wilson himself is full of praise for this debut said to be one of the most diversified efforts he could listen to recently. Who should really doubt about this considering his comments? Provided with eight songs - respectively nine for the limited edition - 'Building An Empire' appears midway between prog metal and new art rock with some ambient additions similiar to Porcupine Tree, Fates Warning or Tool. I'm really wondering because I never heard anything about this allrounder before. He not only composed the songs but also played all the instruments for the recordings. And that should be enough for the premature praise now.

Chapel is not a complete newbie - a project named SILENT CEREMONY existed before with him as the mastermind and 'Temple' for example was already worked out several years before. After some time of silentness he's back now on the wellknown prog label Inside Out with his songs. Fans of melodic prog metal will be satisified with this album I'm quite sure. First of all because of a solid guitar work with a bandwith from acoustic to metal riffing which is for example demonstrated quite good on the bonus track Earth.

The emphasis is on vocal accompanied melodies - who expects long instrumental solo parts will be disappointed. Elaborated compact arrangements are offered, sometimes bombastic sometimes melancholic with ambient and acoustic elements. Chapel's voice is even not far away from the LaBrie style in parts - versatile presentend with Shine for example according to the rocking sections - mellow for the melodic singer-songwriter parts.

The perfect symmetry opens in a neo progressive mood later culminating with heavy riffs and keyboard work fading from mellotron into lush strings. Sapphire has it heights in the second half with a special combination of dynamic and melancholy. Unspoken, Temple and Empire must be esteemed as the epic core of the album. Wonderful melodic with acoustic guitar, electric piano and convincing vocals supported by samples here and there. Naive in contrast can be ignored and seems to be overproduced. The long track Sand has a nice flow - mellow in the whole but with a powerful refrain and provided with some screaming moments when Chapel is 'enraged' for a while.

Conclusion: the album offers nothing really sensationally new or surprising but is professionally worked out with an interesting blend of prog metal and art rock elements which can convince and therefore 'Building An Empire' is a recommended purchase by all means - 3.5 stars.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars DEMIANS is really the one man project of Nicolas Chapel from France. He had been in an Electronic band previously but quit the music business after two of his band mates were killed in a car crash. The first song he wrote afterwards called "The Perfect Symmetry" is about the aftermath of that tragic event. All the songs on this album were written, performed, arranged and recorded by Nicolas at his home with no budget ! I think that is in part why Steven Wilson has really endorsed this record, i'm sure he can see himself in Nicolas, considering he also started out as a one man project. I also think that Steven is drawn to this type of music that is melancholic, atmospheric and emotional. This album features quite a lot of samples as well, most notably the strings. Lots of electronics but also a heavy almost metal flavour at times in contrast. The lyrics are very impressive by the way. To quote Steven Wilson "One of the most assured and accomplished debut albums i've ever heard, the textures and dynamics within the music are breathtaking. A must for everyone that appreciates the art of epic and ambitious 21st century rock music". I must add that DAMIENS is now a full band that is actually touring with the great ANATHEMA this fall.

"The Perfect Symmetry" is probably my favourite because it does bring PORCUPINE TREE to mind. The first time I heard it I was pretty excited because it's so good. Gentle low end guitar melodies eventually lead the way. Vocals a minute in are reserved. We get a beat 2 1/2 minutes in. It gets heavier 3 minutes in but calms back down quickly. The guitar comes ripping in before 5 1/2 minutes. Strings are back and then vocals return 7 minutes in. It's heavy again. Dreamy ending. Check out the lyrics though. "Shine" opens with acoustic guitar as vocals join in. Drums follow. A nice heavy sound comes crashing in after 1 1/2 minutes. It calms back down and becomes spacey before 3 minutes to the end, where it blends into "Sapphire". The guitar eventually comes in tastefully as the sound builds. Strings too with drums and bass. It settles before 2 minutes. Vocals follow. It kicks back in a minute later before settling down again quickly. A powerful undercurrent can be felt 5 minutes in. Here we go again as it comes crashing back in.

"Naive" is the song I like the least by quite a bit. It's ok but is missing something. Some heavy and mellow passages are contrasted. Too predictable I guess. "Unspoken" opens with lots of atmosphere as almost spoken vocals come in. A melody arrives before 2 minutes. It ends as it began. "Temple" has some great lyrics to it. This song seems so urgent. It's mid paced with steady drums and tasteful guitar melodies. Some spoken word samples too. "Empire" features electronics throughout. Vocals a minute in. This is a laid back tune with more meaningful lyrics. "Sand" is right there with the first track as being my favourites. It's the song that Nicolas seems most proud of, and he said the style of "Sand" will probably be the direction he will go on his next album. It's a 16 minute track that contrasts throughout the full sound with heavy drums and guitar, with the mellow vocal sections. Lots of dreamy strings too. Check it out before 11 minutes when he actually lets loose some growls. Very emotional and powerful song.

I originally felt this was barely 4 stars but here I am 2 years later and for me it's a 3.5 star album.

Review by Prog-jester
2 stars 2.5 stars (an extra half-star for being an one-man-band)

DEMIANS sounds like a mix of American Post-Grunge/Alternative MTV rock and Modern Prog a-la PORCUPINE TREE, RIVERSIDE and the likes - I learned this from a friend before actually listening to the album itself. Wow, I thought, this must be huge! Yes, it should be, it could be, but not for me. Unfortunately, alternative attitude dominates the proggy one, and I wouldn't be against that if the material itself was questionless. Where are those catchy melodies Modern Prog is known for? Where's the atmosphere? Where's difference between tracks, after all? Well, if you like Modern Prog in vein of above-mentioned bands (PORCUPINE TREE is the strongest I believe), better check DEMIANS on author's MySpace before getting his CD. A matter of taste, nothing more, but I don't like what I heard

Review by progrules
3 stars Demians is a brand new band that released their debut this year and therefore there is no reference in case you're in doubt for buying this album. I was in that situation, listened to a song or two in the store and bought it hoping for good fortune for the rest. Of course there was also the streamsong on PA but that's just one song and not enough to build a decision on.

After a few listens it appeared to sound a bit like equal newcomer Ephrat who is in the same subcategory (heavy prog). It also slightly resembles Oceansize but Demians is more quiet and laidback and misses the psychedelic guitar passages that is characteristic for Oceansize. But apart from that the style slightly the same.

A good example for this is the opener The perfect Symmetry especially in the second half of the song. Next song, Shine, starts quietly but after 1,5 minute it really breaks out then quiets down again and appears to be the prelude for the stream track on PA, Sapphire. I can't say this song is more different than the opener and listening to all the other songs I come to the same conclusion more or less.

And in fact this is my main criticism on this album, it's too much of the same. On the other hand there is an advantage detectable because except for the already mentioned (slight) resemblances with other bands I think I will have to admit this band has its own sound. They are not a clone of some other band and I think that's worth a lot. Another advantage can be that if you really love the style and sound this is a great treat for over an hour. Highlights are Unspoken and especially Sand to me and this last song is in fact the song that made me get the feeling I was listening to Oceansize for a while. But again: this is not a copy of any band and the best you can do is check them out for yourself.

I believe they are worth it but despite high quality and good songs this ultimately does not correspond well enough with my personal taste. Objectively this could be 4 stars but for me the recent average (3,40) reflects perfectly what it's worth to me.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Really surprise, French artist singing in English language (and well as far as I can tell), having name which sounds like a band, but it's in fact one man project. OK, I'm in, so where's the catch ? Nowhere, that's it. Only (and quite big) problem of this album is that it sounds similar. Same thing as in case of "Not From This World", where I first encountered it, but in both cases I like it. I suppose that sometimes is it to good of whole thing. End of track Sapphire is unnecessarily heavy and repetitive (if it's not part of masterplan, which I didn't get), that I must mention, but after all, if it's just one track, then I'm happy. Oh, end part of one track only.

But when I listen these tracks closely, one after another, randomly skipping between and trying to compare one to all another, then move for another one for comparing, I don't see these traits here. They're not similar at all, but they seemed to when listening in normal way, from track 1 to final, eight. Fortunately, I don't know Oceansize, so I can't compare. Strings, that's it. Fits perfectly here, they're not just cheap trick how to gain attention, they simply fit.

5(-), this is empire which will not fall soon, this will prevail.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Building An Empire is one of my favourite debuts of recent years. It's a one man project that sounds surprisingly like a real band. A very impressive achievement for sure, but at the same time also the cause for the weaker points of the album.

Nicholas Chapel is an excellent composer. The often long songs on this album have a very organic flow. Seemingly without effort, they take you through a large set of moods, rich melodic textures, fragile tenderness and aggression. The Perfect Symmetry and especially Sand are the high points. The music has a very personal feel with a strong Tool vibe to it but more melodic, with Porcupine Tree never too far away.

The sum of it all results in 65 minutes and unfortunately, it leaves me depleted of energy. After about 20 minutes, the album has a dip of sorts that starts with Naive and doesn't fully recover till it is salvaged by the immense Sand at the end. There are a number of reasons for that. First of all, the way Chapel weaves his complex vocal melodies is very much the same on each track, resulting in songs that are too similar. I hardly notice the difference between most of the tracks. Too few songs have hooks that really stick.

Second point for improvement is related to this. This is too much of a singer's solo album. His playing is competent but the music needs a bit more room to breathe. It is too restrained by the focus on the vocals which are, don't get me wrong, excellent.

If Chapel had knocked off a few tracks it would have turned out a lot stronger. I am hopeful that with the next album the involvement of other musicians will work inspiring. This guy has a 5 star album in them. Sure.

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Heavy (almost metal) prog from France, and very good!

A curious thing happened to me, some years ago when I attended to a mini prog festival outside Mexico City, I went to one of those CD sellers and bought a couple of albums I found interesting, the thing is, that the man gave me an extra CD, and yes, it was a promotional copy of Demians' debut album "Building an Empire", I didn't know about it and just limited to say thanks.

Then when I came back home I put it on my computer and play the album, and what a nice surprise.

I honestly thought it was a full metal album, you know that kind of noisy thing called metal, but fortunately I was wrong. Demians is a multi instrumentalist from France who with his own imagination and virtuosity managed to create a consistent 56-minute album divided in 8 songs. Since the first song I felt attracted by the music, in that moment I didn't thought "is metal", I mean I was really open to it, because it is not really metal, though it has its clear tendencies.

The first song is "The Perfect Symmetry", which is a very nice opener that plays with different musical passages, structures and colours, the vocals are really good and the instrumentation excellent, the first part starts with some soft mood with nice use of keyboards making some orchestral arrangements, but the second part of the song becomes heavier, thanks to the guitar's work, and in the end you can also notice that strong drums sound. This is a 9-minute song that in my opinion fits perfectly as the album (and artist) introduction.

"Shine" opens with nice acoustic guitar, later vocals appear but the guitars prevail until one minute and a half later when it makes a brutal change due to powerful guitars and drums, though the sound is more aggressive and metalish, the song is also catchy and gentle. Then it makes a short and kind of spacey stop, and seconds later when you think you are in the same song, you realized that it is a new one called "Sapphire", that spacey sound introduces the song along with gentle guitars but later again, the power returns and its helped by those excellent keyboards. A minute later the vocals return and follow a soft and nice structure that will change again later. The same thing happens, I mean, it is heavy but at the same time catchy. I like a lot the way he uses the keyboards.

"Naïve" is a short song that opens with acoustic guitar but some seconds later turns heavier, actually and I don't really know if it was intended, but that sounds as it was the continuation of the previous two songs, I mean that could have been a three-part song called Shine. This one is pretty similar, some catchy and soft moments, later a heavier style is included but in moments sounds redundant, anyway it follows the same path and that may have been the musician's goal.

"Unspoken" opens very calm, soft vocals and synthesizer making some dreamy noises, (it does remind me to some PT moments) then the song is progressing little by little creating a stronger feeling, but keeping the same softness and gently mood; actually the song is very touchy and emotional.

The next song called "Temple" despite being pretty short is one of my favorite album's passages, it opens with a dark feeling kind of a nervous mood, and then vocals appear along with constant drumming and nice acoustic guitar, then a couple of minutes later the song ends when you think there is more to tell, but anyway as short as it is, I enjoy it. So when some kind of electronic music appears is when "Empire" begins, that same electronic style keeps sounding accompanied by delicate vocals and some synth effects as background. Pretty good vocals that will invite the listener to feel identified with it, the song keeps the same structure, at the end those keyboards simulating orchestral arrangements appear, but in a sudden stop it ends just as it began.

The album ends with "Sand", which is a 16-minute epic that resumes Demians' sound, showing how he likes to interplay with soft and heavy moments, because it starts calm but seconds later turn stronger, and later, returning to the same structure. Actually the first part of the song is pretty similar and in moments could be boring, but later It changes with a heavier sound that is always accompanied by those excellent keyboards, which was a pretty wise decision from the composer. There are even some growling vocals that actually does not sound bad, and after that the song becomes lighter and comfortable thanks to that soft use of synth. The track ends very calm; if you can listen to the whole song it may leave a mark on you.

This is an album that I really enjoy, an album that I didn't meant to get but destiny put on my hands, though I believe it is a strong debut album, there are some repetitive moments that may bore the listener, and I believe that should be changed, anyway, my final grade will be 3 stars (3.5 actually)

Enjoy it!

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Building an Empire is the debut full-length studio album by French progressive rock/ metal act Demians. The album was released in 2008 by Inside Out/SPV. Demians is a one-man project by multi-instrumentalist/ vocalist Nicholas Chapel who plays all instruments and sings all vocals on the album.

The music on the album is a kind of warm alternative progressive rock/ metal. Actually there are not that many "metal" parts on the album, but when they kick in youīre not in doubt that youīre listening to metal. Iīd mention the more mellow part of Dream Theaterīs repetoire and especially Enchant as infuential upon Demians sound. The other part of the bandīs sound is rooted in alternative/ progressive rock in the vein of bands like Porcupine Tree, Gazpacho and A Perfect Circle. Nicholas Chapelīs voice has a pleasant and mellow quality to it. Thereīs a slight accent to his singing but itīs not a problem. Rather itīs a charming feature. Most of the album has a mellow and sligthly melancholic atmosphere that works magic if you ask me. This is not your usual busy progressive metal album with breakneck speed soloing and technical playing rather itīs an emotional journey that will take you to a soft and cozy place. The great thing is that the songs never get tiring even though they seldom break out in more energetic parts. Everything seem to have its place in the soundscape. Thatīs great compositional work. I adore the acoustic guitar work, the keyboard work and the warm vocals and harmony vocals by Nicholas Chapel which are just some of the great features on this album. I think he nailed how to make a mellow and emotional yet still rocking and in places heavy rock/ metal album, thatīs interesting and entertaining throughout.

The first time I listened to the album I wasnīt aware that everything was being played and sung by just one person. Simply because there are no weak spots when it comes to the musicianship. Usually with one-man projects itīs audible which instrument or instruments that the musician is mostly used to playing or the vocals might not be top notch because the musician is mostly an instrumentalist and only secondly a vocalist, but thatīs not the case with Nicholas Chapel. The man seems to play everything equally well and his vocal delivery is strong and personal. His considerable skills make for a very consistent and pleasant listening experience.

The production is warm and professional.

Building an Empire sits comfortably between being progressive metal and progressive rock and perfectly manages to be intriguing to fans of both genres. The album seldom gets too heavy for fans of the latter while it certainly offers up enough "metal" moments to still entertain the former. Itīs a very hard balance to strike and I can only think of a few other acts that are able to do the same with similar success without sounding like they are forcing it ( bands like Porcupine Tree and Riverside). Itīs so seldom that Iīm surprised when I listen to an album by a new act but I have to admit that this one took me by surprise. A greatly enjoyable album fully deserving a 4 star rating.

Review by Wicket
5 stars An incredible sonic masterpiece of unique fashion and one-of-a-kind quality.

There seems to be two types of reviews on this site; one that praises the "alternative" style of singing that multi-talented Frenchman Nicholas Chapel performs with, creating a sort of accessibility to radio listeners who are usually unfamiliar to prog. Of course, there is the other who finds that obnoxious, a style of singing that's foreign to prog that only makes this album a hot mess.

Thankfully, I embrace both.

As a fan of symphonic prog, prog metal and power metal, I've had my fair share of tall, long (or short) haired blondies with falsetto pitches and high screams. Every now and then, I appreciate someone like Chapel who brings his "Puddle Of Mudd" voice to a "Porcupine Tree" party, if you will. Purely hypothetical, but take one listen to track one, "The Perfect Symmetry" and you can hear the slow elements of a Porcupine Tree, or a Riverside, an Oceansize, maybe even Tool. If you cut off the rising strings intro and piece the first and second halves together, you could easily make a four minute long radio edit for the airwaves.

Now, if you're also a fan of instrumental music like me and always wants exciting music to listen to such as a symphonic prog group or maybe even a jam band or two, this particular record may not be for you. You're not going to find sweeping synths and blistering guitar solos, but what you will find is a texture incomparable to any prog group I've ever heard. I can't even compare this to Tool or Porcupine Tree, because this is a disc all it's own. In fact, if you give a fan of, say, Nickleback or the Foo Fighters both Tool's "Undertow" and Demians' "Building An Empire" disc, chances are, he/she will probably listen to the Demians album (if not neither of them).

I'll be honest here, this particular sub-genre is boring as hell if it be not for some exciting or at least particularly interesting vocals and textures. Chapel's voice is sort of that fresh air commonly seen in monotonous, droning, boring British folks commonly seen in Shoegaze (particularly because the musicians always stare downwards at their shoes, hence the name).

If "The Perfect Symmetry" doesn't grab you right away, "Shine" should at least pique your curiosity. Few bands combine these elements of progressive textures and symphonic soundscapes with catchy verses and easily accessible vocals. If halfway through the track you don't start banging your head, you obviously don't like this subgenre of prog. "Shine" and "Naive" are probably the most accessible tracks, because, as previously stated, the vocals are there, the catchy verses are there and most of the droning, some would say boring, soundscapes are kept to a minimal, at least until tracks like "Sapphire" and "Sand".

At least for those who appreciate music not just for musicallity, but for texture, for construction and for the atmosphere it's created for, this is a masterpiece of music. After all, it was entirely recorded by a Frenchman, which till I discovered this disc, I'll admit, all French musicians made bad music.

(Obviously I have since retracted my previous statement.)

Review by The Crow
3 stars Good debut album from Nicholas Chapel, AKA Demians. And being a one-man project, I have to recognise that this album has a lot of merit!

It lacks the presence of a true drummer, and at some points suffers the absence of other musicians because despite Chapel does a very competent work, he is obviously limited at some points. Nevertheless, the production of the album is good and all the instruments sound crystal clear.

The album starts with The Perfect Symmetry, a long and intense track, with good atmospheric elements and fine vocals. Sadly the drums are too weak and towards the end the track is also too repetitive. Shine is an acoustic track, harder at the end. Not really progressive, but good nevertheless.

Shapphire contains a more modern sound, in a very North American style, especially at the chorus. It almost remembers me to Nickelback! I don't like this one, despite its intense final section. Naïve bring back the acoustic guitars, with a beginning which remembers me to Pearl Jam. After that we can hear some Devin Townsend influenced riffs and another pop-rock chorus.

Unspoken is very atmospheric, almost trip-hop. It has some resemblances with Riverside, and the interesting melodies make this song be one of the highlights of the album. Temple continues this trend with some Opeth-reminding guitars.

Empire is a mid-tempo with vocals which are too repetitive again. The voice of Chapel is nice, but his limited range makes the songs of Building an Empire a bit dull sometimes. Sand ends this album in a good way, being the longest and most progressive track of the album, despite the musical limitations of Chapel and the average musicianship.

Conclusion: if you like modern melancholic progressive rock in the vein of Riverside and Opeth, you can give this album a chance if you can stand the North American pop-rock influences in the style of Nickelback and similar acts that Chapel has.

The musicianship is good enough, and despite the repetitive long tracks the music is progressive enough to please the genre's fans. Good effort!

Best Tracks: The Perfect Symmetry, Unspoken, Sand.

My rating: ***

Latest members reviews

5 stars Steven Wilson's praising of the debut from Nicholas Chapel as "dynamic" was an understatement. This album is so complex in emotions, diversity, and textures that you may not fully comprehend the "Empire" of rich and raw atmospheres Mr. Chapel has built at first listen. There are just 9 tracks ( ... (read more)

Report this review (#261810) | Posted by dtismajesty | Wednesday, January 20, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Some of us in the electronic ether have known of Nicolas Chapel's musical aspirations for nearly half a decade, and we've all been waiting patiently. Well, after far, far too much waiting, the album has finally arrived and is somehow even more amazing than I ever expected it to be. Many will ra ... (read more)

Report this review (#177613) | Posted by mits5k | Monday, July 21, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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