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Huis Despite Guardian Angels album cover
3.89 | 204 ratings | 7 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2014

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Beyond the Amstel (8:38)
2. Haunted Nights (3:00)
3. The Last Journey (6:33)
4. Oude Kerk 1 (8:58)
5. Lights and Bridges (6:48)
6. Little Anne (9:35)
7. If By Morning (8:29)
8. Oude Kerk 2 (5:09)
9. Write Your Name (6:18)
10.Salvation (6:25)
11.Garden of Dust (5:28)

Total time: 72:22

Line-up / Musicians

- Sylvain Descôteaux / vocals, piano (1), Mellotron (4)
- Michel St-Père / guitar, mixing
- Pascal Lapierre / keyboards, backing vocals
- Michel Joncas / bass, keyboards, backing vocals
- William Régnier / drums

- Mark Vermeule / guitar solo (4)
- Sylvain Gagnon / piano (4)

Releases information

Artwork: Richard Morin

CD Unicorn Digital ‎- UNCR-5088 (2014, Canada)

Thanks to psarros for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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HUIS Despite Guardian Angels ratings distribution

(204 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

HUIS Despite Guardian Angels reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Neo-prog done superbly? Yes, it does exist and there are many that illuminate the prog universe. Here is another fine example of getting the oft-formulaic style down to an art form. Quebecers Huis do a wonderful play on their craft, naming their band after the Dutch word for house as well as the old French word for door or room.. Bass maestro Michel Joncas and keyboardist Pascal Lapierre founded the group after an epiphanic trip to Holland that provided the spark to craft their own music. Bringing on gifted young drummer Will Regnier as well as the slick and accent-less vocalist Sylvain Descoteaux, the band started gelling quite nicely indeed. One more tile was missing and what a find that was! That revelation was the majestic presence of Neo super group Mystery's frontman, guitarist and leader Michel St-Pere, a sensational guitar slinger of the very finest pedigree. The end result is a magnificently arranged neo-prog masterpiece, a team effort nevertheless manned by incredibly talented individualists, who have combined their talents to make some scintillating progressive nuggets.

The set list begins with that initial Dutch visit spark, 'Beyond the Amstel', a glorified 8 minute+ mood piece which defines that rather special relationship between Canada and the Netherlands, the latter enjoying a strong historical bond of love and friendship for anything with a maple leaf on it, due to the Canadian liberation from Nazi starvation which the Dutch of all ages have never chosen to forget. Church bells, canal waters clapping against the loaded barges, forlorn piano pooling deep melancholia while St-Pere crystalline guitar fills the air with resonating sensations. Delicious temperament, strong rhythms and hefty beats all conspire to get the listener in the mood, otherworldly synth spirals clashing with the imperial axe and Sylvain's voice entering the fray. Oh yeah, the musical goods are quite impeccable! A fantastic introduction to a new prog kid on the block.

The really fascinating concept here is how there is a fine mix of instrumental fragments intermittent with lyrical pieces, giving the music a wide girth and profound sonic depth. 'Haunted Nights' recall some spooky event in visiting a ghostly mansion somewhere in the Dutch mountains (LOL), while the 2 part 11 minute mellotron-infested 'Oude Kerk I & II ' (The 800-year-old Oude Kerk is Amsterdam's oldest building and oldest parish church, founded ca. 1213) instrumentals are perhaps the most enthralling segments on this recording, bass prominently carving the arrangement, Regnier pounding like a true drum beast and St-Pere garnishing the whole with an effect-laden guitar tour de force, a perfect set-up for some glorious pieces like the stunning 'The Last Journey' , a 6 minute extravaganza of mood and sensation, fortified with a deeply emotional chorus that will adhere to your brain way after the last second has passed. Yes, this is melodic, accessible and immediately attractive neo-prog that features colossal waves of mellotron to accentuate its symphonic leanings, memorable singing and ingratiating pleasure.

'Lights & Bridges' focuses (oh, the nasty pun!) on more musical picture postcards, a sonic journey with twirling synths, bashing riffs and a hard core drum and bass onslaught. Prog- rock with a honed edge, dreamy sequences courting bruising parameters, never boring or worse, that horrible ' prog by numbers' attitude of expected formula that is simply non- existent here and as such, very similar to Mystery's catalog of bright and explosive neo-prog. What is also admirable is the willingness and the ability to stretch out the arrangements to include all kinds of fractal imagery in the textures and tones used by all members.

The nearly 10 minute long 'Little Anne' suggest the rather obvious, when one thinks of Anne in Holland , one can only be 'frank' and accept the inevitable, a shining example of the human spirit surviving the worst holocaust and living on for eternity! Typical prog in elevating some literary monument and then express it in musical form, 'the die is cast' indeed! Shadows in the darkness, light in the tunnel of forgiveness and remembrance of an evil chapter in history, sounds like proper premise to me! The Dutch were arguably the very first and have always been a tolerant, open 'minded society, a feat rather sadly unparalleled among its powerful neighbors. The tribute song has therefore more than merit, it also has a worldly appeal that should not be diminished.

'If By Morning' has an immediate attractiveness, an arch-typical neo-prog anthem that grabs one's attention from the get-go. It features a mid-section with a massive and churning organ furrow, evoking memories of the sadly departed Rick Van der Linden of Ekseption and Trace fame, as the remaining crew blast away with utter disdain for formulaic design. The beauty of the music is elegantly highlighted by a sense of natural expression that is hard to describe, restraint and eloquence ushered to the forefront with obvious passion. St-Pere lets one fly, simple and yet gorgeous.

The impressive 'Write Your Name' boom-boom tchaks nicely forward, a moody slice of cinematographic splendor, sparkling synth bells, square rhythms and Sylvain now emulating classic Fish vocal eruptions. This is probably the most classic sounding neo here, harking back at the Pendragon, Arena, Credo, Comedy of Errors, Knight Area, Leap Day and Silhouette style, we all know and some of us love.

'Salvation' has an angrier tinge, loaded with some sense of despair and founded rage, 'It's never too late to accomplish' Sylvain yelps with conviction, prepping a softer segment of intense reflection. The piano carves out a familiar refrain, sounding a bit like Roxy Music's classic 'Song for Europe', but shrouded with a whopping guitar solo that scales, screams and scratches as if the Devil was on its tail.

Finishing off this amazing debut album, we are blessed with another atmospheric piece, 'Garden of Dust', a sonic mesh of colliding tones, vivid hues and fragrant aromas that hide a rather arid story of solitude and introspection, and as such a fitting finale.

Mystery has a local little cousin that has all the ingredients to provide the prog fans more delightful sounds from that perennial hot bed of prog devotion, the province of Quebec.

4.5 Caretaker Spirits

Review by b_olariu
4 stars A new prog act on the prog rock map - Huis (meaning as far as I know doors in english) from Canada and their first offering Despite guardian angels from 2014 issued at canadian label Unicorn Digita. Well, what we have here is a good towards great neo prog album with hints of symphonic prog all done in a beautiful and elegant manner. This is a young band with good potential, the head of the band bassist Michel Joncas gathered around him some talented musicians, some of them well known in prog circles like Michel St-Père the guitarist from another respected band in this field Mystery and on one piece is the ex guitarist from dutch band Knight Area - Mark Vermeule, so the line up is solid and tight aswell as the music offered. What about the music, I must confess I was really hooked from the first piece Beyond the Amstel, really impressive musicianship, subtil and elegant arrangements, lots of synthesisers what else a winner. Another forte tracks are the instrumentals Oude Kerk I & II (Oude Kerk is Amsterdam's oldest building), this is impressive, really tight musicianship, excellent ideas, every musicn involved here is sure what is doing and done very well in the end. The music overall is well crafted , with lots of keyboards and guitars aswell maybe in some parts they remind me of Mystery because of St-Pere guitar touch. Anyway strong compostions under neo/symphonic prog flavour. The art work and overall package is great to, digipak format. So, from me 4 stars, definatly one of the better albums of this year.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars When I came across the debut album from this Canadian band I was immediately extremely interested to see that the guitarist is none other than Michel St-P're from Mystery. I have been racking my brains but can't think of another band he has played with, and he is here as a full member, not a guest, so it shows just how invested he is in this. Huis ('home doors' in French, and 'house' in Dutch) was formed by Pascal Lapierre and Michel Joncas in 2009, after a trip to Holland. They soon found other musicians to make this band a reality, and as well as Michel it features William Regnier and Sylvain Desc'teaux. Musically here we have an album that is straddling the worlds of neo-prog and melodic rock, which undoubtedly will upset a lot of purists, but when it comes to listening to music for sheer pleasure then this ticks the boxes for me.

William and Michel J keep the bottom end good and tight, while Pascal is a strong keyboard player who keeps to the role mostly of providing strong rhythmic accompaniment with the occasional flourish, but the standouts here are singer Sylvain, who has a wonderful melodic voice and Michel S. His guitarwork is the strand that pulls this album together, always fluid and emotional, and these elements combined with great songs means that this is an album that non- progheads will enjoy as much as those who think that 7/8 is much more than just a mathematical fraction. This is a very strong debut indeed, and I look forward to the next one with great interest.

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
4 stars Here's your typical Neo-Prog band with a emphasis on long symphonic developments. We can find plenty of good melodies, nice arrangements and nothing very complicated. The sound is in the mould of bands like Moria Falls and Mystery. In fact, the guitarist of Mystery is playing here. The vocals are just as enjoyable as the music. There's a nice balance between keyboards and guitars with a lush production and the use of some vintage keyboards sounds. The song "Little Anne" is a nice ballad that shows a different atmosphere than the rest of the album with a strong influence from the legendary Harmonium. It's not for the most adventurous listeners, but for those who enjoy melodic progressive rock music that offer strong compositions without getting in the excess of a pure symphonic album. For a debut, it's pretty impressive, let's hope for some more music from this band in the future.

Latest members reviews

3 stars I am not a great fan of Neo-Prog. You know, bands that tried to imitate Genesis with some success. Marillion have produced some very pleasing stuff, but then in turn, they themselves were being copied, or imitated as peers. Just how far can we stretch the same musical piece of rubber? Neo-Neo- ... (read more)

Report this review (#1164038) | Posted by Anon-E-Mouse | Tuesday, April 22, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For my first PA review, I deliberately chose an album from a band that I considered was worth discovering. It would have been easy to talk about Steven Wilson or Rush, but I doubt anybody would have learned something from it? So here I am writing about Huis' debut Despite Guardian Angels. One wi ... (read more)

Report this review (#1158089) | Posted by Mellomoog | Monday, April 7, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Huis' Despite Guardian Angels is a great debut album for the Canadian band. It features strong songs based on a mix of 70's and neo prog minding. Most of the tracks on the album are tied by a common guideline, which makes it easy to listen as a whole. The guitar parts of Michel St-Pere are h ... (read more)

Report this review (#1117144) | Posted by miniphil2007 | Tuesday, January 21, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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