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Novela - La Songerie CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.58 | 25 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars The debut album for Japanese symphonic progressive band `Le Songerie' is a fascinating mix of punchy, heavy-rocking numbers with grandiose symphonic prog. Novela crosses the 70's hard rock of the Paul Dianno-led Iron Maiden albums, the deeply spacey synthesizers of the so-called `metal' period of late 70's/early 80's Eloy with the regal Mellotrons of Genesis, and even a touch of sweeping Renaissance-like grandness and lush sophistication - the talented musicians clearly soaked up a wide collection of 70's heavy metal and proper progressive music influences. On first listen, the album seems dominated with stomping rockers, and vocalist Hisakatsu Igarashi oftens employs a wailing high-pitched shriek, but the more adventurous and daring material emerges closer to the second half that makes everything so much more special.

Opener `Illusion' is a bashing uptempo and catchy heavy stomper that, despite the glossy keyboards over the top, wouldn't have sounded out of place on Iron Maiden's `Killers', with only a fleeting synth passage near the end to offer a glimpse of prog. More grooving 70's flavoured metal for `Night With No Name' with some gorgeous chugging bass, while despite `Unbelieving Words' being a bit closer to actual prog, it's really a perky poppy number. The 11-minute `Letticia' is where things start to get really interesting. Full of lengthy instrumental sections over a variety of tempo changes, the endless washes of synths, ethereal female voices and some dazzling Frank Bornermann-styled electric guitar soloing recall the `lost-in-space' atmospherics of 80's Eloy. The commanding, driving drumming and pulsing bass also brings to mind Rush, Hisakatsu's vocals taking on an unearthly and unhinged menace here.

Opening with a graceful and dignified Mellotron introduction that recalls German proggers Epidaurus mixed with Novalis, the powerful and dramatic two-parter `The Boyhood/The Cliff' sounds a little like the slow-build of Iron Maiden's `Strange World', but full of serene and blissful floating synths. The grooving second half is a frantic and uptempo rocker with some very snappy drumming and nimble bass playing. The 14 minute title track is also full of the soaring Mellotron majesty of Novalis' classic `Sommerabend'. With a lovely matching vocal and piano melody in the verses that drifts very close to Renaissance's `Ocean Gypsy', crying electric guitar that calls from the distance, even Hisakatsu restrains his voice for a very touching and heartfelt performance full of wistful longing. Lovely classical acoustic passages, crystalline electric piano, scratchy Mellotron and group choir harmonies showcase the band playing with great subtlety not displayed on much of the rest of the album.

`La Songerie' won't win you over right away, but patient listeners will be rewarded with a strong release if they take the time to discover all those wonderful symphonic pieces a few tracks in. The band shows supreme taste and an unpredictable energy, and I plan on looking into more albums from the band in the near future. As I own the most recent Mini LP reissue, I also envy owners of the original vinyl, what sublime cover artwork to treasure!

Three and a half stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |


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