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(49:34, Musea Parallele Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Opus 24 3:24 2. Opus 22 4:17 3. Opus 23 5:19 4. Opus 26 3:26 5. Opus 27 3:51 6. Opus 19 4:20 7. Opus 12 3:00 8. Opus 28 4:18 9. Opus 29 4:42 10. Opus 31 5:52 11. Opus 32 7:05 LINEUP: Ivan Serdyuk – guitar Yury Demirskiy – bass Andy Prischenko – drums Stanislav Bobritsky – keyboards
Prolusion. “42” is the latest release by CTHULHU RISE, a Ukrainian band whose name refers directly to the creative legacy of H. P. Lovecraft, an American horror and fantasy writer who inspired hundreds of various cultural figures (including the Chicago-based band of the late ‘60s named after the author). The album’s title, in turn, brings me back to the modernist sci-fi novel of the same name by contemporary German writer Thomas Lehr, a post-apocalyptic story of what may happen as a result of the use of colliders.
Analysis. Well, “42” by Cthulhu Rise is an event I would hope the band would repeat ad infinitum. This is a unique, absolutely brilliant album that, so to speak, sings in all progressive voices, the quartet having created one of the most vital avant-rock styles of today, a fusion of influences from extreme metal to neoclassical. Indeed, many of the musical ingredients here are similar to those that we normally meet with in avant-garde Progressive, such as irregular, shifting phrase lengths and swirling, angular melodies, although the harmonic vocabulary is never overtly dissonant, tending to be totally cohesive instead. While the CD contains eleven instrumental compositions, the album as such includes the first ten ones, all of which, while multi-sectional, are composed throughout, featuring arrangements that reveal more of themselves with every listen. Five of them, Opus 24, Opus 22, Opus 27, Opus 19 and Opus 29, are exquisite jams of avant-garde prog-metal wizardry, with some symphonic as well as avant-garde art-rock moves thrown in for good measure. In all cases, Chtulhu Rise often sounds as though Mekong Delta, Voivod and Univers Zero (circa “Kaleidoscope”, “Outer Limits” and “Heatwave” respectively) are jamming together, albeit Sleepytime Gorilla Museum at its most intense might come to mind on some occasions as well. To put it in a more precise way, the former track is a heavy opener with either a symphonic synthesizer melody or a wonderfully avant-garde piano solo accompanying the guitar riffs, all conveying a dark attitude that matches the material perfectly. The other four are similar, but are even more intricate in places, though the last of them goes further in terms of style at one point, finishing with a bass-driven move that is fusionesque in nature, the matter being elaborated on the piece titled Opus 28, whose first two sections are Jazz-Fusion of the first water. While on each of the described pieces the music is normally ever-changing, the remaining four tracks from the album, Opus 23, Opus 26, Opus 12 and Opus 31, contain some repetitive patterns, but are all complete masterpieces, too. Despite not being supplemented by any chamber players, the quartet does perform now Chamber Rock or, rather, Metal-In-Opposition with hints of King Crimson’s “The ConstruKction of Light”, now neoclassical music by means of technical Prog-Metal somewhere in the manner of Mekong Delta, but with a keyboardist involved, an excellent one, comparable with Univers Zero’s Patrick Chevalier, at least in inventiveness. In other words, the sound here is made up of nearly equal parts of effectual Crimsoid riffertronics (which, while often proceeding alongside the organ passages, are delivered with hardly more delicacy than a black metal band), and even a more intrepid side whose tricky rhythms, that run down without breaking, speak of the latter influence. All in all, few other ‘heavy’ bands produce music as intricate and dense, and yet so compelling, as this one does. Finally, the bonus track, Opus 32, is the only piece here that has no hard-edged arrangements, merely alternating art-rock and jazz-fusion moves, albeit those are avant-tinged, meaning in both cases.
Conclusion. An excellent addition to our bandlist, “42” is probably Ukraine’s most important progressive rock project to date. Cthulhu Rise creates a highly intriguing sound that comes not just from deploying a series of genres (some of which are seemingly incompatible), but also from the writing and performing really interesting and truly original material. Top-10 pick of 2012: very highly recommended!
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