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TRACK LIST: 1. Home Back 2. I Want to Pray 3. Strange World 4. Des milliers d'ames 5. Open Your Eyes 6. Sandrillon 7. Reveille 8. I Want to Shout 9. Where is the Door 10. Aoutour de toi 11. 10:10 PM All tracks: by Awacks. LINE-UP: Jean-Francois Rives - guitars Stephane Monserrat - vocals Francois Biancon - drums Eric Tixeront - basses Guillaume Greffier - keyboards Produced by Awacks. Engineered by S. Marc.
Prolusion. The French quintet AWACKS was formed in 1989. The band started with playing cover versions of classic Heavy Metal stuff, which continued until the middle of the '90s. Finally in 1999 Awacks released their first CD, "Panorama". "Atmosphere 136" is the second full-length album by them.
Synopsis. The first track, Home Back, is very short and consists exclusively of 'realistic' sounds (steps, speech etc). Perhaps it shows how the guys are entering their bandwagon:-) The other tracks are songs, most of which are with English lyrics, and some are in French. The singer's pronunciation of English is good, so I don't know what led them to compile the album with lyrics in different languages. But well, it's unimportant. On the first four songs: I Want to Pray, Strange World, Des milliers d'ames, and Open Your Eyes (2 to 5) the band presents a rather traditional proto-progressive Hard ' n' Heavy, combining features typical for both of the English and American schools of the genre. Each of these is notable for dueling solos of guitar and synthesizer in the instrumental part and nothing essential in vocals housed (read caged) within the framework of reappearing couplets and refrains. Surprisingly, the songs on the second half of the CD turned out to be much more diverse and interesting than the said ones, and even the Rock ballad I Want to Shout (8), featuring nice piano passages and Monserrat's dramatic singing, is rather pleasant. (First, though, he wanted to pray, if you remember.) Apart from those with the parts of traditional Rock instruments, Sandrillon, Where is the Door, and Aoutour de toi (6, 9, & 10) contain episodes consisting of clearly symphonic interplay between passages of piano and those of string ensemble. These three are the full-fledged works of progressive Hard Rock. Although Reveille and 10:10 PM (7 & 11) are harsher than most, if not all, of the other songs, they are hardly less interesting than those that are rich in symphonic textures. Respectively, the music is an intensive Hard Rock with elements of Cathedral Metal and a moderately slow, heavy and, what's central, highly impressive Cathedral Metal with elements of its paternal genre, Doom Metal.
Conclusion. Overall, "Atmosphere 136" is a very good Hard Rock album, nothing more, nothing less. Yes, above all, it is destined precisely to fans of the said genre, regardless of some stylistic heterogeneousness of its contents. Recommended with some reservations, which I've named already, though.
VM: June 7, 2004
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