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Dionysos - Le Grand Jeu CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.18 | 25 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars The Rock Progressif Quebecois movement hit its zenith around 1976/77 with a lot of bands releasing some of their best work or their only albums during these two years. However, the Quebec prog scene goes back to the late sixties when, as with other places in the world, the psychedelic period was giving birth to a new breed of music that would grow out of the nebulous haze of fuzz-toned guitars, swirling organs, and synchopated jazz-influenced drumming. Dionysos are said to be one of the first bands to begin singing solely in French and their 1971 debut sees them planted firmly in the heavy psychedelic scene.

To sum up the music on this album is pretty simple: imagine 1967/68 heavy rocking Vanilla Fudge along with other contemporary bands who relied on lots of organ and guitar distortion. There's a strong blues element that rears its head frequently enough but also, very interestingly, a noticeable proto-metal element as well. The actual prog-as-we-know-it style from England that would pervade the music scene in Quebec in a few years time is not to be found here. Instead, you can expect typical lengthy organ and guitar solos, most blatant in "L'age du chlore" with a long organ solo but also apparent in "Agneau de dieu" and "Narcotique". The songs are not without some advanced take on song structure but still a barely recognizable ancestor to the likes of bands that would germinate in Quebec soil over the forthcoming years.

As such, there are things to like about this album and other things that are not so impressive. "Narcotique" at over 12 minutes would seem to be the big prog production number here but it swims around in an ocean of heavy psych so that even the prog sensibilites that show through in their nascent stages are still cloaked in some rather standard psychedelic adventurism. "Suzie" is a song that I read somewhere got the band some recognition but it strikes me as being one of those generic Led Zeppelin-ish heavy blues songs that doesn't come across very well on a studio album, though compliments should be paid to Paul Andre Thibert for his very sincere post-Woodstock blues vocal work.

For my personal preferences, "L'age d'or" gets some points for being a two-part instrumental featuring both a quieter and somewhat reminiscently renaissance half and more rocking and grooving half, and "La colere" is worthy of mention for its crunchy fuzz tone guitar and groovy organ.

The star of the show in my books, however, is the proto-doom metal album closer "Agneau de dieu". Again a song in two parts, the first part is heavy enough with some notable Iommi-isms in the guitar soloing. But wait until you get to second half of this song when it becomes so flipping heavy and chock full of distortion that you'll do well to watch slow-motion footage of Mt. Saint Helens exploding while listening to this. If you have a fetish for early very heavy music like I do, this part will probably leave you flat out on the floor with your chest heaving. The killer move is when Thibalt shouts out, "Et je mourir!" as the music comes crashing down like real heavy metal thunder. An awesome proto-metal track!

Though Dionysos's albums are pretty rare, the debut is easily available on CD. The one real complaint might be the sound quality of this CD as it seems the master was a reasonably good piece of vinyl and nothing better. So there are lots of pops and scratches and the usual hiss that comes when a CD is produced from a vinyl master. I find though that it is not so bothersome as it rather suits the music, especially the copious fuzz tone used on the guitar in certain tracks.

I can't say I highly recommend it as a prog album, but as proto-prog and proto-metal, and as a heavy psych album, it's quite good and should appeal to fans of this type of music.

FragileKings | 3/5 |


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