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(72 min, Musea)
TRACK LIST: 1. Chant Sous les Oceans 7:10 2. L'Apprenti Sorcier 5:50 3. Les Noces Noires 5:28 4. Helas 3:50 5. Un Chat Sur le Toit 5:15 6. Le Funambule 4:44 7. Voleurs D'Ames 4:55 8. Zone Rouge 3:56 9. Celia 6:19 10. Led Hordes 5:25 11. Le Chaman 7:00 12. Frere 7:41 13. Voyage Dans les Silences 4:21 All tracks: by Lelong or Lelong / L Raoux, except 9 & 11: Roseren. Arranged & produced by Exode. LINEUP: Roland Lelong - vocals Thierry Roseren - lead guitar Angelique Raoux - vocals; flute Laurent Raoux - keyboards Christian Raoux - drums Christian Loyrion - bass Jerome Brigaud - guitar
Prolusion. The title of the debut album by France's EXODE (Exodus) is "D'Ici Et Alleurs"; it's not of the same name as the group as it is stated in the CD press kit or on Musea's website. The band's website is under construction.
Analysis. After hearing the first track, the rather long, yet, quite accessible Neo number, Chant Sous les Oceans, you will certainly want to mentally draw the line: Genesis - Ange - Mona Lisa - Marillion - Versailles - Exode, above all due to Roland Lelong's vocals, which are done in a classic theatric Art-Rock fashion, though at times with some rawer, screaming-like intonations typical for Fish rather than Christian Decamps or Dominique Le Guennec. In this respect, you will experience somewhat of deja vu while listening to Celia, which generally sounds like it's the opener's twin. The other eleven songs are much more diverse and original, keeping reference to the said axis only when Roland is alone behind the microphone, while he usually shares the lead vocal parts with the charismatic female singer and flute player Angelique Raoux, who imparts much coloring to the vocal palette and is also one of the central personages responsible for the diversity of instrumental arrangements. When Angelique and Roland sing together, particularly on Voleurs D'Ames, the picture reminds me a bit of "La Source" by Minimum Vital. On a couple of tracks, the pair sing in a clearly operatic mode, and those episodes are the most impressive. I sincerely regret they didn't do that throughout, having neglected their amazing performance capabilities in favor of traditional theatric vocals; otherwise it would've been a wonderful album. The primary style is something average between Neo and Classic Art-Rock with a touch of Metal. With the exception of Un Chat Sur le Toit, the only track here that completely suits the canons of Symphonic Progressive, keyboards are mostly at the background of the principal musical events. There are no vintage ones among them, which, whatever one may think, is a positive factor in this very case. Another positive aspect, lessening the degree of resemblance between Exode and its famous predecessors on the path of dramatic Art-Rock, concerns Thierry Roseren, whose guitar solos play a key role in most of the instrumental sections, either alone or less often along with those by Angelique on flute. Thierry is a more than competent guitarist, perfectly navigating his way through the time changes and doing plenty of masterful leads sure to please any guitar lover. At times his style of playing resembles Andy Latimer's, but more often, Thierry switches over to a harsher sound, subtly riffing on the territory that Camel's main man rarely ventures into. Nevertheless, following the proverb "one's as good as none," I'd like to note that the compositions would definitely benefit from some more variety in the instrumentation in the field of soloing battles. Of course, I am taking pokes at Angelique's brother, keyboardist Laurent Raoux, no offence intended; it's just a kind of wish for the future. Did I tell of the rhythm section? No? It's excellent.
Conclusion. A combination of old and new, this debut outing from Exode indicates that the band might have a bright creative future. Despite some minor shortcomings, I hope they will make the appropriate course corrections and concentrate on their own ideas, especially since they have plenty of them. The readers shouldn't think that these remarks mean that the album lacks something significant or is not to be recommended. Fans of Versailles, late Camel and related musical directions will hardly find anything better to their taste among this year's releases.
VM: May 9, 2005
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