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Phideaux - Snowtorch CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.20 | 828 ratings

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Andy Webb
Special Collaborator
Retired Admin
4 stars In the beginning of 2011, a few albums garnered a massive amount of praise very quickly, sending the albums high into the numerous charts that float around the site while some said they really shouldn't have been. Whether these albums, at the time only a few days old, had truly become masterpieces rivaling the likes of In the Court of the Crimson King or Animals is a laughable prospect, but nonetheless these albums piqued the interest of many, and with good reason. This album, Snowtorch by American crossover artist Phideaux, was one of those albums, and at one point that album peaked at #11 on the top 100 list of all time. Impressive, huh? While it may not by the 11th greatest prog record to hit this side of the universe, Snowtorch is an inventive and exciting release from well-known progger Phideuax.

Most people know Phideaux, and while he's been kicking around since the early 90s it wasn't really until the mid-2000s that he started pumping out his well-known "psychedelic progressive gothic" formula of music that strikes such a chord with the progressive rock community. Since 2004 the man and his band have been making roving bands of concept albums, with intertwining trilogies and spin off projects and musical experiments and a whole host of tasty and creative music to boot.

Snowtorch is set up like an extremely stereotypical prog rock album. It's four tracks, two of which are parts of the lengthy title track spanning in the excess of a half-hour. The remaining two are more or less filler, although each "Helix" and the oddly titled "." contain enough "umph" to stand up on their own as individual tracks. In typical Phideaux style, the compositions are complex and multifaceted with numerous instrumental textures coming from various directions, including a heavy piano and synth section, dual guitars, a near choir of five vocalists, strings, saxophone, and more. Each member adds a unique flavor to the dynamic music, making an overall very tasty dish of jazzy, symphonic, psychedelic, accessible, and progressive music. Some may call it "retro prog," but despite its 70s prog leanings, Phideaux has really made a home run with this album.

Any prog fan with an aptitude for interesting, creative, and generally fun music will definitely find something of interest on this great album. The music keeps a beat consistently throughout the album, despite changing thematically and staying consistently complex the whole way through; Phideaux has done a great job with keeping the music continuous and exciting throughout the 44 minute long album. The production, as always, is crystal clear, not "slippery," and gives the music perfect justice as it deserves. The musicians are, as always, great at their instruments, contributing the perfect amount of each tone and style to the overall picture of the album. The actual music is well crafted with lighthearted and accessibly melodies while not seeming "bubbly" or cheesy. The lyrics are complex without seeming cliché, and tell a story without being too ambiguous. Overall, Snowtorch is easily one of the better albums of the year, and while it's not on par with Fragile or Per un Amico, it's a classic for our day in prog. 4+ stars.

Andy Webb | 4/5 |


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