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Hamadryad - The Black Hole CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.97 | 46 ratings

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4 stars A collection of songs that span quite a range of prog styles, using sounds and techniques from symphonic, metal, death metal growls, to vintage Genesis, Peter Gabriel, and Rush, this album comes as a late surprise as it was only released on December 17 of 2017. Welcome to the club!

1. "Peaceful Exit" (8:04) the opening section is a bit grating though it follows a kind of RUSH-like pattern, but the second (and third) instrumental section is great--with cool keys, bass, and electric guitar solo. (8.5/10)

2. "So - By Your Side" (10:32) opens as a poppy early-STEELY DAN-like tune (clavinet and rhythmic structure) before progging things up a bit. The organ in the second minute helps. As do the great drumming and lead guitar work. The singer has quite a similar voice to that of STRAWBS' founder Dave Cousins. Great slowed down final section. (8.5/10)

3. "Fall'n Fly" (8:43) opens with a heaviness that feels and sounds great. Then enters Jean-Fraoncios Desilets' Dave Cousins/early Peter Gabriel-like voice. Nice. The song remains heavy and insistent through four minutes as drums, metal guitar chord play, and chunky, fast-moving bass propel us on. Synth and slide guitar flourishes sneak in before a cool "underwater bass" solo and lead guitar solo play off each other for a minute. At 5:15 things get really pretty with some slowed down great synth wash chords and emotional lead guitar flourishes. Wow! I like this! Part MOONGARDEN, part CAFEINE, part RIVERSIDE. At 7:05 the pace picks back up with a cool sequence of short, quick riffs that get prolonged over about 45 seconds before Arp synth solo takes the band back into the opening pace and styling. (9/10)

4. "Dark Souls" (6:01) opens with awesome acoustic guitar tracks strumming away. Multi-voiced vocal track joins in at 0:25. At 1:06 things blow up into full-on metal music. The added lead vocal which sounds just like Peter Gabriel from "Moribund the Burgermeister" from his 1977 debut solo album, gives it a very cool sound. The band is very tight, very well integrated, throughout this section. Awesome and unexpected shifts into acoustic and back into metal and symphonic sections through proceed over the next couple of minutes before leveling out with a high- energy final minute. The best song on the album. (9.5/10)

5. "Crash" (4:53) drums and chunky bass open this song before upper octave rhythm guitar quick strums join in. A Mick Jagger-like vocal enters for the first verse, but then goes into Gabriel-treated voice for the two successive chorus sections. After the second round of the two choruses at the three minute mark, the song goes more acoustic with choral voices singing in a kind of countrified Rolling Stones/Led Zeppelin way. Interesting. (8/10)

6. "The Worst Is Yet to Come" (5:43) opens with spacey electronic keyboard sounds with picked 12-string guitar before soft doubled-up Cousins/Gabriel/UNITOPIA voice enters in a ghost-like style. The entire song proceeds like a Trespass-era GENESIS song with the softer 12-string-led dynamics and Gabriel-style subdued vocals dominating though it is well supported with things like flute and chamber strings, chunky fretless bass and great melodies. A great song; my favorite on the album. (9.5/10)

7. "Amora Demonis 2017" (7:54) excellent organ-led symphonic prog with a great heavy bass and ominous vocal performance setting up some pretty great soli from the synths, Hammond, and electric guitar. The female(?)-led group chanting in the sixth minute give it an almost Zeuhl intensity! (If that's not a woman singing it is an amazingly gifted male!) It turns out that this is a reworking of a song the band had released 16 years before on their debut album. My third top three song for the album. Great job! (9/10)

Overall a very enjoyable, very creative, and very well produced album of eclectic sounds and styles performed at a very high level of musicianship and band coherence. My only hesitation to assigning a higher rating comes from the mysterious and nagging question of Which of these Hamadryad's is the real Hamadryad?

4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of eclectic and diversified progressive rock music; definitely recommended to all prog lovers! Check this out!

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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