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Halloween - Part One CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.47 | 33 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
3 stars Neck in neck with the British neo-prog scene, the French band HALLOWEEN obviously had its pulse on its cousins across the English Channel given that it was situated in the city of Brest on the far western tip of Brittany. The band was founded in 1983 and proved to be one of the 80s most promising prog rock bands but didn't release this debut PART ONE until late in the game in the years of 1988. The band produced a sensual symphonic prog sound that sounds like a mix of the homegrown Ange and the other French act Pulsar, whose beloved album of 1977 provided the inspiration for a moniker.

While not quite as accomplished as the band's most lauded work, the third album titled "Merlin," PART ONE showcases the talents of Gilles Coppin (keyboards, vocals), Jean-Philippe Brun (violin, guitar, bass, vocals) and Thierry Gillet (drums) finding their sound out of the Pulsar playbook and leading things in a new direction. The Ange influences come in with the dramatic theatrical vocals and the album adds a bit of gypsy swing with the occasional outburst of the violin that also adds some seriously scary screeches. Much more assertive than the aforementioned influences, HALLOWEEN had no problem rocking out with a more bombastic guitar heft albeit always pacified by a menagerie of synthesized counterpoints and a vocalist who's not sure if English is the language de jour or the homegrown variety of French. Most of all part one excels in moody often turbulent atmospheres that allow the guitar, bass and drum attacks to sneak around and the music is often mysterious and foreboding with the occasional spoken word dialogue to give a sense of epic grandeur.

For the neo-prog comparisons, there are often Marillion type constructs that add a sense of dramatic rock moments with the vocals imitating the great Fish along with the expected keyboard heft and bouncy bass lines and sailing guitar riffs. This is particularly true of the track "Halloween" which always makes me wonder why a band would name a song after its own name but not as uncommon as one would think (uh, Iron Maiden!). The compositions have a complexity that make this a true proggy discourse and in the end everything about PART ONE is excited quite well save a few of the vocal parts that sound a little ragged.

Generally speaking HALLOWEEN did a pretty good job at crafting a decent 80s prog album that took the symphonic touches of the UK's neo-prog scene and blended them with the homegrown sounds of Ange and Pulsar but in the end the band doesn't come off as very original wearing its influences a bit too clearly on its sleeves. This is indeed a worthy listening experience but it doesn't really deliver any tracks that knock your socks off either. While the band would reserve its pinnacle prowess for the third album "Merlin," PART ONE is certainly no debut to be ashamed of and in fact in the right mood this will scratch that symphonic prog itch big time.

3.5 stars rounded down

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |


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