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Phideaux - Infernal CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.01 | 385 ratings

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3 stars I will admit up front that I have never been much of a fan of Phideaux music; the band's releases have produced very little that have impressed or engaged me. I understand intellectually what Phideaux Xavier goes through to compose and put together his music--and I appreciate the knowledgeable sources extolling his compositional virtues--but no release, no song, no performance (save, perhaps, "Thank You for the Evil") has ever won me over as a prog lover (and I own all of the Phideaux studio releases). Phideaux's sense of melody and simplistic song constructions have never matched my own preferences (they have, in fact, mostly repelled me). And yet I get as excited as everyone else when news of a Phideaux release leaks out. I'm ALWAYS willing to give his stuff a chance. As a matter of fact, many is the time I've returned to older releases with the mindset of "I must have missed something" or "maybe I'm ready now." After all, I finally "got" and "liked" Gentle Giant and Van Der Graaf Generator! But, no, this album elicits the same responses and gut reactions from within me as the others. So sorry! I even find it a challenge to write a review because I have so little positives to offer--and I much prefer writing a review that raves or extolls the positive (though never afraid to offer criticisms in hopes of provoking band growth as well as more responsible listening among the consumer audience).

Disc 1 01. "Cast Out And Cold" (5:32) I'm intrigued. Something fresh and promising. (8.5/10)

02. "The Error Lives On" (7:15) intricately constructed but too quirky, too theatric, too enigmatic and shifty. (7.5/10)

03. "Crumble" (0:56) female vocalist over orchestral synths moving the story forward. (3/5)

04. "Inquisitor" (8:21) this album's new variation on "Thank You For The Evil." The vocal melodies in the verses are even nearly the exact same! Nice electric guitar work and excellent from the synthesizers. I actually like the male vocal performance, I just don't enjoy the Broadway feel provided by the piano base, background vocalists, and many divertimenti, bridges, codas, and other twists and turns familiar to me from stage crafting. Perhaps this is also why The Decemberists' folk rock operas have always failed to click with me. (8/10)

05. "We Only Have Eyes For You" (4:00) a pop rock song drawing constructive elements from many songs of the 60s and 70s and 80s, including Cream, Pink Floyd, and Blondie. (7.5/10)

06. "Sourdome" (1:31) an acoustic guitar and electric guitar showpiece necessary to give the stage crew time to change the sets. (4/5)

07. "The Walker" (4:39) this drum beat and guitar strum syncopation is just way too familiar--way over-used in all of Phideaux's work. My favorite aspect of this song is the constant augmentation of voices chiming in as the song progresses. (7.5/10)

08. "Wake The Sleeper" (1:30) solo electric guitar beneath emotional male vocal. The distortion effect used on the guitar sounds as if it came from the 1960s. (4/5)

09. "c99" (3:25) same pace, same plodding piano, same screaming guitar, same female vocalizations, nice drumming and synth play. Guitar play gets exciting/emotional in the second half. (8/10)

10. "Tumbleweed" (4:58) Why does Phideaux think that his piano play has to hold the 4/4 time? Even Elton John uses some syncopation and flourishes to make it interesting! This vocal cries out for some space--for a break from the incessant piano metronome. The "orchestral" build and crescendo of the second half helps. (8.5/10)

I just had a thought: Perhaps Phideaux Xavier should be creating musicals for Broadway!

Disc 2 11. "The Order Of Protection (One)" (4:35) spacious, echoing solo piano notes! What?! Did Phideaux hear my complaints? Chords and synth accompaniment ensue over which harmonizing female voices sing about shepherd's protecting sheep. Electric guitar and bass drum join in as male voice(s) takes a turn. A 80s Keith Emerson-like piece develops with a cheezy combination of keyboard sounds. If the musicianship were a little more complex they might get away with it. (7.5/10)

12. "Metro Deathfire" (4:58) Hasn't the author used up these type of titles? This one sounds like a kind of attempt at a Beatles/Bowie/Pink Floyd tribute song. (8/10)

13. "Transit" (1:14) an acoustic guitar interlude (3.5/5)

14. "In Dissonance We Play" (2:49) opens with power trying to emulate one of Roger Waters' angry anthems--and continues in the same vein for its entirety. At least it's using second gear. (8/10)

15. "The Sleepers Wake" (5:22) opens with some pleasant acoustic guitar work, soon joined by harpsichord-like keys. A folky Renaissance feel continues as female vocals join in. By the middle of the song, as the folkie Colin Meloy (The Decemberists) male voice joins in and takes over the lead, the song has evolved into more of Pink Floyd affair. Still, this is the best thing on the album. (9/10)

16. "The Order Of Protection (Two)" (4:33) a longer instrumental interlude (must be quite a complicated set change!) turns into a return to the opener of Disc Two. Nice vocal. He sounds committed. The 1/1 kick drum drives me crazy. Cheezy organ, sitar effect, and background vocal staccato "bah"s do not work for me. (8/10)

17. "From Hydrogen To Love" (14:04) the album's only prog epic opens with a bit of the sinister tension of GENESIS's "The Knife" while synths and ensuing vocal section shift it more into the realm of Steve Hackett solo stuff. Unfortunately, in the fourth minute it all falls into the tell-tale formula of a Broadway musical. The music tries to remain proggy with a kind of "Apocalypse in 9/8" rhythmic foundation and classic synth sounds used in the instrumental section in the sixth and seventh minutes. Back to Broadway with sudden mood and stylistic shifts over the next minutes. What a great ensemble piece this would make for a stage musical! (8/10)

18. "Eternal" (5:46) a 1960s Broadway happy-go-lucky love theme seems to open this song before all shifts into a LLOYD-WEBBER/Yvonne Elliman stage ballad. (8/10)

19. "Endgame - An End" (3:29) again, an awesomely visual stagecrafted song to end this wonderful homeless Broadway musical that is desperately seeking a theatric outlet. Ends with a bit of an "Unfinished Symphony" sound and feel to it. (8.5/10)

Mr. Xavier: you are really a very talented closeted Andrew Lloyd-Webber wannabe so why not try your prodigious talents at stage craft? A musical seems in order. I think you and your cast would find great success there.

3.5 stars; a solid album of nice music whose audience should perhaps be treated to the visual and theatric components of this very stage-friendly music.

BrufordFreak | 3/5 |


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