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Xang - The Last Of The Lasts CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.60 | 29 ratings

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Forgotten Son
4 stars This is certainly a very ambitious album, an instrumental concept album that deals with one of the most destructive conflicts man has ever seen, World War I. This is probably enough to give all but the most avid Prog fans pause, as concept albums dealing with such titanic events inevitably have a high chance of failure, not to mention the fact that this French group has choosen to musically render such events without lyrics, albeit with sparse use of sound effects and a short spoken word passage.

I can safely say, on an intellectual level at least, they pull it off admirably. On the first few listens one is taken aback by the sheer musical diversity of this album, from the bombastic, more traditional keyboard-driven Symphonic Prog of "Sacrifice" and "Verdun", the crushing Prog-Metal of "Mud" and "Trenches", the unsettling, industrial-sounding "Sons of the Empire" and the strangely cathartic ambience of "Gas". Iit is due to this eclecticism that, early on, one is in doubt as to what much of the music has to do with "The Great War". However, with repeated, more intent listening, it becomes clear that, rather than harming the conceptual nature of the album, the wide musical palette serves to keep things interesting and largely free of the sort of cliche, angst-filled monotony one would expect of an album based on this subject matter, while at the same time emphasising the chaotic nature of war, emotionally as well as physically.

Each track, even the initially heartening Jazz-Fusion of "On Leave" or the gentle melancholy of "Roommates", in addition to more obvious emotional content, is filled with an air of tension and despair, an emotional underpinning which prevents what would otherwise be a rather awkward, directionless collection of music. Take "On Leave", for example, which brilliantly represents the idea of solidiers just returned from the trenches, attempting to relax and have a good time, trying to forget, but at the same time realising that they'll have to go back to the world of mud, misery and industrialised killing which they just left.

For those looking for something in the heavy Symphonic Prog vein, but with a difference, this is an excellent album, so long as you don't mind putting some effort in. Certainly an excellent addition to any prog collection.

Forgotten Son | 4/5 |


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