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Phideaux - Chupacabras CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.88 | 277 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Given that "Chupacabras" comprises material from various phases of Phideaux' career that, for whatever reason, could not be delivered at the time of conception, this album is not only excellent but also remarkably cohesive. Skewed as it is by the transcendent and triumphant 20 minute title track, the rest contains enough pleasures to please most of us.

The namesake for the album is a beast from Mexican mythology that appears to slay its victims in large numbers every few years and drinks all their blood. Phideaux tells its story from the perspective of the creature, and whatever he may mean metaphorically, the exercise works on a lyrical level. But it is in the symphonic meets old-west core that this creature thrives. The many phases integrate splendidly both vocally and instrumentally and the use of special effects like the bleating of the soon-to-be victims is also a stroke of prog genius. One of my favourite parts is inspired by the southwestern locale where the chupacabra strikes, and features banjo-like strumming that might be a dobro perhaps. The opening cut of the album is an instrumental that flows into the epic as though it were composed for that purpose (which perhaps it was).

While the rest of the album clearly falls below the standards set by "Chupacabras", Phideaux wisely juxtaposes it with the glam oriented "Party Party". At first I just thought of it as a trite David Bowie knockoff but it has grown on me thanks to the sinister lyrics. Exactly what type of a party is this where you have to play along or be absorbed? "Fortress of Sand" is almost entirely instrumental after the ethereal beginning, becoming a reflective and effective guitar solo. The "Ruffian" duo show the harsher side of Phideaux that lacks his characteristic shadings and suffers for it, but in the closer "Titan" he gets back to what he does best, that slightly spacey British vibe that begins slowly and quietly before busting out.

Phideaux, for all his influences, is an original talent who, at his best as on most of this album, manages to consciously produce old style symphonic progressive rock that is indulgent without being self-important. It is there where he surpasses most of his influences.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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