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Secret Chiefs 3 - Book Of Souls - Folio A CD (album) cover

BOOK OF SOULS - FOLIO A

Secret Chiefs 3

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.34 | 25 ratings

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TCat
4 stars This is the second part of Secret Chief 3's trilogy 'Book of Truth' (the first being 'Book of Horizons' from 2004), 'Book of Souls: Folio A' was released in 2013, and is the 7th album released by the band. Just like 'Book of Horizons', all of the tracks on this release are credited to the satellite bands that record under SE3's name, of which there are 7. Only 5 of those bands are represented on this album, the ones that are missing are 'Holy Vehm' and 'NT Fan'. The latter was also missing on 'Horizons', but this time 'Holy Vehm' was left off, which is fine because they were the ones that sounded out of place the most on 'Horizons' with their death metal sound, and the growling vocals are not that appealing to me, even though that album was a masterpiece. The heavy guitars are spread out much more evenly on this release because of that. Trey Spruance (formerly from Mr. Bungle) still heads over all of the satellite bands.

So, the question is, is this album still as great as 'Book M' and 'Book of Horizons'? Well, that is what we are going to find out. 'Balance of the 19' (Ishraqiyan) has a quirky melody inspired from Persian and Afghan influence with both traditional and modern instrumentation. Percussion is tricky and guitars become more intense in the middle section while the traditional instruments flutter around them. A simple melody becomes complex with the odd timing.

'Nova IHVH' is credited to Secret Chief 3 (as are, from this point on, every other track on the album, which act as intermediary, short tracks), and sounds like a radio station jingle that morphs into heavy metal and back in twenty seconds. Quite funny actually. 'Potestas Clavium' (The Electromagnetic Azoth) has a marching band rhythm with brass instruments, and accordion, chimes and heavy, distorted, electric guitar power chords. This track probably encompasses the sound of all of the satellite bands in one track. It's quite a cavalcade of musical styles with little breaks of experimentalism. 'Post-Identity Hour' this one sounds like a jingle from a news program and then changes several times, almost like scanning through radio stations for the first half, and then settling into an orchestral, romantic style.

'Personae: Halloween' (UR) is a cover of the music from John Carpenter's movie 'Halloween'. Starting out with a catchy rhythm playing under the spooky movie themes, this one rolls along quite smoothly. The track utilizes orchestra, chimes, synth and heavy guitars. Very cool. 'Utopian Weekly Update' is another radio jingle style conglomeration of wackiness.

'Scorched Earth Saturnalia' (FORMS) is the centerpiece of the album and the longest track at over 7 minutes. It starts with a nice piano solo which is joined by some nice expansive sounds from other instruments. This goes into a fast paced section brought in with a cello and lots of piano pounding with many other style changes that still keep with the darker feel of this track. The track is avant-prog, no doubt, yet it is still surprisingly accessible, if you don't mind the ever changing themes (some you'll recognize) and styles that are all melded together by a mysterious and ominous feel. There is another quick 6 second interlude track called 'Full Spectrum Anamnesis' made up of various ascending electronic tones, which is followed by 'Drive' (UR). Again, we get an orchestral sound, but the tones are shifted around throughout. This makes for some interesting effects along with the micro-tuned guitars. This track is a perfect example of avant garde techniques being used on a track that comes across as quite accessible and cinematic which creates a nice and unique atmosphere. Then there is another quicky called 'Barzakh ID Markers' which sounds like a bunch of radio announcement music all jumbled together into 44 seconds.

'La Chanson de Jacky' (Traditionalists) features Mike Patton on vocals in both English and French. The song has a dramatic fast lounge singer jazz sound with a European sound, sort of like an over the top version of 'Conquistador'. The music is mostly orchestral. 'Toy Soldier's Frontline Report' is an avant garde march tune. 'Tistrya' (Ishranqiyan) again mixes electronics, traditional and modern instruments to create another interesting middle-Eastern dance with some very tricky rhythms and percussion patterns with some spots that get quite intense and others that are soft.

As I mentioned, this album is a bit more 'evened out' compared to 'Book of Horizons' in that it spreads out the heavier parts among the tracks instead of having them condensed into a few tracks. Other than that, and the fact that Mike Patton actually participates on one track, this album stays pretty much on par with the first part of the trilogy. As of yet, there hasn't been a third part added, but seeing as it took almost 10 years for the 2nd part, it might still be a while. Overall, this album contains the same things you loved about 'Horizons' but things do not stand out as much, probably because it is similar. Where 'Horizons' got a 5 star rating which included ingenuity, this one gets 4 because, while it is still awesome, it is similar. This album should still not be ignored however. And if you hear it first, then to you it will be a 5 star album.

TCat | 4/5 |

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