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Aching Beauty - L' Ultima Ora CD (album) cover

L' ULTIMA ORA

Aching Beauty

 

Progressive Metal

3.66 | 7 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Aching Beauty are a very interesting blend of harmonious symphonic prog with a heavy edge to the sound using distorted guitar riffs and heavy bass. The 'L' Ultima Ora' album features some of the best prog metal I have heard in a long time, in a similar style to Dream Theater.

'Peter Pan Syndrome' features a beautiful introduction; an acoustic guitar masterfully executed.

'Steps' rips into a great guitar riff and then settles into beautiful harmonies and strings utilising keyboards. Opeth meets Dream Theater style.

'Endlessly' is a slow melancholy vocal from Guillemet that prepares us for the onslaught of:

'Pairsonality' - this 8 minute mini epic blazes away with jagged metal riffing and then some beautiful piano motifs slice up the wall of sound. A definite highlight featuring a myriad of time signature changes and some very intricate complex metrical patterns.

'Glittering Images' is a long softer acoustic based song, well sung and featuring a heavier chorus with distorted guitars that lingers in the memory. I love the harmonies on this track and the overlayed background vocals. The Chorus is worth quoting here with some interesting lyrics:

I prayed darkness not to come, 'til she reads the scroll and reaches her crown, She prayed the moon not to fall, 'til she finds the one that would wait her for, She prayed the sword not to fall, 'til she gives her son the glitter of the sun, They prayed her son not to fall, 'til he finds the force and reaches for his throne, For his throne,

The track culminates in a blistering keyboard and guitar solo with breakneck speed percussion. Then it settles into the main melody again. The lyrics are powerful:

They thought they could for their own good But no one knew then how it would all end

One thing of note is that the vocals are difficult to understand as they have that French accent and it is obvious that the band struggle with the English interpretation but kudos to them for making this a mainstream release that would appeal to a wider market.

'The Hundredth Name' thunders in with an infectious guitar hook and the ever present keyboard pads soaring in the background. There is the use of chimes in this track too giving it an ethereal quality. The lyrics are deep and powerful:

Rising prophecies, assuring, frightening, comforting, A truth seems to rise from inevitable signs, Or do we see signs where we want to see them? This was written: Those who have intelligence numerate the number, Cause this is a number of man O The Great and The Judge, The Vengeful, The Omniscient, The last of His Names shall prevent us, God's aegis against God's wrath

It is all based on Revelation from the Bible of course - the good old metal theme of Armageddon rises its ugly head again. But Aching Beauty do it with such finesse and beauty one should not mind the heavy handed treatment of the themes.

'Soul's Wrinkles' is another track that segues into the 6 and a half minute 'Shatter the Shell'. I love the riffs in this track but it does not last long before we move back to the tranquil acoustic treatment again. But it comes in intervals, interchanging throughout. So we have some metal and we have some symphonic style metal. This is certainly a highlight of the album. The lyrics are as enigmatic as ever:

Always seek what you are lacking, As a ruthless natural law, Filling the void of your knowledge, Is still not enough, Craving for relief, better crushed than torn apart, Leave a life of regrets

At the end of the track some woman raves on about the treatment of women by men with the scathing comment: 'If men ONLY Knew?'

'Lost' is a short, sweet, soft 2 and a half minute track. The guitar picking style is similar to the beginning of tracks such as Metallica's 'Fight Fire with Fire'. The vocals cry out in agony:

And I try to find my way, wanderer feeling alone And I try to get away, this time I think I'm lost There is a nice wah wah style lead solo that is executed masterfully. 'Aching Awakening' is a segue into 'Masked Life' and it concludes the album on a positive note.

In conclusion, Antoine de Mieulle, Julien, Aldric de Montfort, Vincent Rémon, and Vincent Paget have produced one of the surprise releases of 2004. They were hidden from sight I think in the prog metal world and only have one other 2003 live album to their name and a 2001 EP. I hope they are not finished because this is a knockout debut studio album and well worthy of a listen.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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