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Abraxas - 99 CD (album) cover





3.72 | 75 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "99", Abraxas' third and final effort, shows the band exploring the harder side of their neo-prog style while basically maintaining the same vein as their preceding album "Centurie". In order to make myself clear to the reader's eyes, let me say that what Abraxas achieve here is parallel to what Arena has been doing from "The Visitor" onwards, that is, enrich the basic neo-prog with lots of almost-metal stuff and remarkable synth-based electronic ambiences here and there. There are many numbers when the Abraxas guys get really harsh, even aggressive, as it is properly exposed in the opening title '14.06.1999', and later on in the catchy 'Spowiedz' and the explosive 'Petla Medialna' - the latter including some electronic avant-garde schemes in its first half. On the other hand, the majestic 'Jezebel' (admittedly my personal fave track from this album), the slightly exotic-oriented 'Medalion', and the mini- epic'Anatema' are well-constructed pieces that will surely remind the listener of the dramatic romanticism that had prevailed so overwhelmingly in "Centurie". 'Noel' and 'Iris' (two other mini-epics, both quite "schizophrenic" actually) state a kind of compromise between the new coming metallic rock element and the dense neo stuff inherited from their previous two albums: together with 'Jezebel' and 'Anatema' they make the album's peak, IMHO. Funny how the last two numbers are slow symphonic tracks, with spoken, almost whispered lyrics: vocalist Lassa seems to lay low as a hidden prophet in the wings while the guitar leads and synth layers steal the limelight. After the display of energy that had been showed during most of the repertoire, 'Ocztszczenie' and 'Moje Mantry' take the listener's heart to a realm of introspective reflection. Actually, let's pay attention to a fact: this is the Abraxas album with the largest quantity of tracks, yet it is also the one that contains (or seems to contain) a lesser amount of lyrics. Lassa's theatrical singing is there, but not as prominent as it used to be, which seems to indicate that (maybe) there was some kind of divorce between the instrumentalists and the vocalist, or at best, that the band couldn't find a way to complete and integrate the vocal and instrumental parts in a more balanced manner. After all, this was the group's farewell album, and that surely means the band was consciously heading for their curtain call. Anyway, all things considered, despite the slight signals of incompleteness in this album's repertoire, "99" is an excellent opus, one of the last neo- prog classics for the 90s, and as such it should receive a 4 star rating.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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