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(61:39, Musea Parallele Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Visionario 8:30 2. Rompiendo Estructuras 5:44 3. Euxariotu 6:21 4. Sobrevuelo 8:21 5. Intro B 2:21 6. La Gracia de Ser 10:21 7. El Infierno Interior 5:04 8. Amanecer Atardeciendo 4:58 9. Aluvion 9:59 LINEUP: Nahuel Acosta – keyboards Carlos Cattaneo – guitars Abel Valente – guitars Juan Gasco – drums; violin Sergio Topham – bass; flute
Prolusion. The Argentinean band HEXATONICA was formed in 2002. Following “Formas” from 2006 (which I haven’t heard), “El Visionario” is their second effort, released in the spring of 2012 by Musea Records.
Analysis. While not as strikingly innovative as Cthulhu Rise’s “42”, reviewed by me previously, “El Visionario” by Hexatonica is another rare contemporary album-masterpiece, proving that classic Progressive Rock is still alive as a genre. There are no vocals on any of the nine tracks present, but who needs them with instrumental work of this quality? What hits the listener right away is the fantastic work of band leader Nahuel Acosta. Using all of the latest technologies as well as the classics, the man works both electric and acoustic pianos, synthesizers and organ to create a massive wall of sound that is powerful, melodic and original alike, with only some of his synthesizer leads reminiscent of Rick Wakeman’s. On the disc opener, Visionario, his pianos set the stage for the guitar work of Abel Valente and Carlos Cattaneo, one of whom handles complex riffs, and another provides melodic leads. Overall, moreover, this is a tour-de-force for the whole band, giving a good idea of what it is capable of – a fast romp through an array of precision turns and complicated stop-to-play moves driven by bassist Sergio Topham and drummer Juan Gasco, with quite speedy keyboard and guitar work from the aforesaid musicians. Not a single second is wasted anywhere during its eight and a half minutes of length, the musicians’ work so both complex and technically perfect that one can’t help but be impressed. The style is technical, yet lushly symphonic (perhaps even epic) Prog-Metal with elements of pure Art-rock and bits of Jazz-Fusion. If you imagine Dream Theater paying much more attention to the symphonic side of their material, you’ll have a rather clear idea of what’s going on here, and also on the tracks Rompiendo Estructuras and El Infierno Interior. However, while the elements of that band’s music (complex riffs, multi-sectional compositions, and so on) are not uncommon, Hexatonica manages to sound original, most of the time suggesting that the style they play in is almost totally their own, the music nearly ever-changing, as no vocal sections are designed. With their keyboards and dual guitars that often weave around each other in the classic symphonic prog-metal style too, Aluvion, Sobrevuelo and Euxariotu are in many ways similar, though on the other hand, each of them contains more – two to three – sections with restrained arrangements, the latter a couple of classically-inspired ones. La Gracia de Ser only in places has a distinctly heavy, prog-metal-related sound, while most of the piece paints symphonic Art-Rock of a moderate complexity, which reminds me remotely of Kansas circa “Point of Know Return”. Amanecer Atardeciendo begins and develops as a sophisticated interplay between piano and acoustic guitar, whereas the last third of the track features all of the band members performing classical music by means of symphonic Prog-Metal. The remaining composition, Intro B, is also excellent, a purely acoustic piece, suggesting something halfway between medieval folk and Baroque classical music. Of the instruments that it uses, namely an acoustic guitar, flute and violin, the last two are played by the bassist and the drummer respectively!
Conclusion. “El Visionario” is clever music that equally focuses on composition, arrangement and the technical mastery of the players. Another commendable thing about the album is that it sounds fresh, not at all derivative of its creators’ influences. A record that will most likely stand the test of time, I believe it will please fans of Dream Theater and those who never were into that cult prog-metal act alike. Highly recommended: Top-10-2012
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