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Hamadryad (Canada) - 2001 - "Conservation of Masses"
(58 min, "Unicorn Records")


*****+

Tracklist:


Eternal Loop  0:49 /instrumental/

Amora Demonis  6:58

Carved In Rust  0:23

Still They Laugh  2:22

The Second Round  4:31

Still They Laugh, Pt.2  2:25

Shades of Blue  5:26

Action  9:39

Nameless  10:24

The Second Coming  4:23

Watercourse Hymn  10:10

All music by Hamadryad. All lyrics by J.Beaulleu, except 8: by J.Beaulleu & J.-F.Desilets, 9&11: by J.Bealleu & Y.Jalbert. Produced by Andy Cherna & J.-F.Desilets. Recorded & mixed by Andy Cherna at Andy Cherna's Studio (St-Sauveur): May.

Prologue. I see the French Canadian province Quebec is getting always richer in terms of excellent progressive bands that, beginning with the 'birth' of Voivod in 1984, appear on the international progressive scene virtually every year. Thanks to a truly serious activity of the "Unicorn" label led by Mystery's mastermind Michel St-Pere (who, in my opinion, is one of the most progressively thinking contemporary 'people in Prog) all the local beginners have now very favourable conditions for their music to reach Prog-people all around the world. Hamadryad is the latest discovery of "Unicorn". According to the band's press kit, Hamadryad was a wood nymph fabled to live and die with the tree to which she was attached, and her mission was to be the link between the mortal and immortal entities. A nice name for a progressive bandů

The Album. As you see above, there are 11 songs on the album and up to the track "ten" I listened to it like spellbound. I was deeply impressed by Hamadryad's unique, free of influences, blend of pure Classic Symphonic Rock with moderately heavy Progressive Metal. All the four band's instrumentalists show some outstanding musicianship on "Conservation of Mass" - as if their progressive 'seniority' counts no less than a decade. This band has a very special approach to arranging music, that helps the musicians not only build strong, complex and highly diverse structures, but also show their personal mastery and virtuosity. An especially interesting thing is that the vocalist uses his voice as a real musical instrument and all the vocal arrangements on the album are as interesting and diverse as the instrumental. Please note - Hamadryad demonstrates a high level of anything related to very mature Progressive already on the debut album. Unfortunately, all these miracles don't live till the end of the album, but up to the tenth track's last note. Oh, I was more than surprised when my ears got stuck (so unexpectedly!) on The Second Coming of one of the Yes's most (in my view) commercial songs Wondrous Stories (from the "Going To the One" album of 1977). I would probably wonder less at Christ's Second Coming than at hearing such a trick from Hamadryad - a band I've already fallen in love with so much. While guitar passages of The Second Coming are just in the vein of Wondrous Stories, the vocalist copies Jon Anderson down to the smallest details. Again, while the instrumentalists are back to Hamadryad's (yeah, already) firm stylistics on the last song entirely, the vocalist seems to be still enchanted by Anderson's vocal legacy here and there, though sometimes he finds the strength to discard this mask and return to his own quite unique style of singing.

Summary. I have no idea at all why these so talented guys have decided to show their capabilities to play Yes as the curtain fell having such strong, interesting and complex music of their own which sounds grandly for 45 minutes from the CD's very beginning. The album's last track - at least instrumentally - is also excellent, so the only completely weak point is just The Second Coming (of Wondrous Stories). I can't shut my eyes to this one, as I see my progressive 'mission' is, first of all, to bring to readers my true thoughts on the subbject I write about (but not promoting progressive bands in general) because we wouldn't be able to support the true Progressive Rock (Music) movement without their "purchasing capacities". And progressive lovers are not some mainstream fan masses who don't understand what's that they read about. And all the potential fans of such a strong, truly progressive unit as Hamadryad are experienced enough to perceive just a sincere wish to give a piece of good advice in any correct criticism from the part of the reviewer. I believe the guys of Hamadryad guess that I wish them well from the heart. Actually I fell in love with this band.

VM. April 22, 2001


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