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Isildurs Bane - Cheval - Volonté De Rocher CD (album) cover


Isildurs Bane


Symphonic Prog

3.34 | 49 ratings

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4 stars French postman Ferdinand Cheval (1836-1924) was a unique character. Inspired to build a house made entirely of stones he'd collected, he worked tirelessly over 32 years to create his dream. Ridiculed by his community and only recognized for his accomplishments just prior to his death by greats such as Picasso, this record is a tribute to his imagination and willpower.

Swedes Isildurs Bane do the kind of symphonic rock most would expect. They make no apologies for being a larger-than-life concert hall of a rock band, and do it with as much skill as any of the symphos who have come before them. The musical connection to Ferdinand Cheval is nominal and Cheval- Volante de rocher is cinematic at heart, exuding the power of drama, passion and war. Mats Johansson leads on keys and also composed this opus which has many good moments. It also is rather full of itself... but again, isn't that what we want in our grand pomp rock? No, indulgence is not this album's shortcoming. If anything, its Achilles heel is the music itself, but it is so well-executed one has a hard time finding the weak points. Playing much like a modern film score, the record still finds room to rock but has no qualms in transitioning to all number of chamber orchestrations, chorales, flights of fancy and romantic adventure. The pounding of drummer Kjell Sverinsson and Johansson's plinking keys begin 'Initiation', a reasonably good bit with a nice guitar intro by Jan Schaffer. It leads to the new-agey 'The Find' and the full orchestrations of 'The Interpreter' with a whole host of classical players including a cello, oboe, bassoon, string bass, flute, clarinet, horns and violins. Top-notch symphonic prog here with many neat changes, plenty of ELP-like aspirations, Gentle Giant counterpoint and some heavy rock for flavor. Getting into full-fleged classical is the remarkable '33 Years', with moving strings and the weep of an oboe, eventually slipping into dark territory. Some world percussives open 'The Cicerone', a somewhat commercial venture saved by the screamin' axe of Tommy Nilsson, and 'The Aged' is in a similar Peter Gabriel vein with a breathy flute. 'Present' is an invigorating slice of robot-prog as it clunks, chirps and digitizes its way onto the dance floor, and the '8th Wonder' chants Gregorian.

Residing somewhere on a scale between Jordan Rudess Feeding the Wheel and Renaissance's Scheherazade, this is a successful piece of work and though not essential, it is a fine record.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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