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Morpheus (France) - 2002 - "Illusions"
(55 min, "Brennus")


****+
Track List:

1. With Soul & Blood - Bizim Killer 4:40 (M'halaine)
2. Son of the Night 3:54 (MORPHEUS)
3. The Riddle 3:33 (Canniaux)
4. Silencium est Dorum (inst.) 5:12 (M'halaine)
5. When Sea Strikes the Mind: 
a) The Wreckage 1:15 (Simeon / Canniaux) 
b) Castaway 5:33 (=)
c) Beyond My Dreams 4:19 (Simeon)
6. The Rebellion 3:57 (M'halaine / Canniaux)
7. Brainwashed 5:06 (Canniaux / Canniaux, Simeon)
8. Let's Sleep On It 5:27 (M'halaine)
9. Warrior's Waltz 4:25 (Canniaux)
10. Illusion 7:59 (M'halaine / Canniaux)

Line-up:

Chiof Canniaux - lead vocals; rhythm electric guitar
Akain M'halaine - lead electric & acoustic guitar; backing vocals
Remi Simeon - bass guitar; backing vocals
Pascal Miseria - drums & percussion
With:
Kevin Espich - keyboards (on tracks 1, 4, 5 a-b-c, 7, 8, & 10)
&:
Sarah Canniaux - female vocalize (on 5)

Produced by Morpheus.
Recorded & mixed by C. Canniaux

Preamble. The French band Morpheus was formed in the beginning of 2000, and "Illusions" is their debut album. There is a festival of Prog-Metal on ProgressoR this week, by the way.

The Album. Overall, "Illusions" is an album of a unified stylistics that represents a rather original Classic Prog-Metal of a moderate complexity 'built' on a structural basis that is typical for both of NWBHM and Doom-Metal. Seven out of the ten songs on the album feature, in addition, some elements of Death-Metal (tracks 4 to 10), and three of them (5, 7, & 8) those of Symphonic Art-Rock as well. Each of the first three tracks here: With Soul & Blood - Bizim Killer, Son of the Night, and The Riddle, is, however, not only simpler than any other song on "Illusions", but is also marked with traces of influences of Iron Maiden. Though these are really evident only in the instrumental parts of the songs. In short, the most interesting progressive 'events' begin with the fourth track on the album and continue down to the end of it. Although The Rebellion and Warrior's Waltz (6 & 9) are structurally closer to the aforementioned three songs, each of them contains a few different instrumental parts, all of which are highly diverse and complex. The rare and short, yet, very original parts that may remind you of only the most profound manifestations of Death-Metal - both vocally and instrumentally, are here, as well as on all four of the remaining songs on "Illusions", masterfully interwoven with the Speed- and Doom-Metal-like musical textures. (Certainly, for the most part, the band's vocalist sings with his real voice.) Contrasts, complex and highly virtuosi stop-to-play movements done exclusively with the use of the odd meters, and sudden changes of musical directions, are the main features of all seven of the excellent tracks on the album. Though only the remaining five tracks: Silencium est Dorum, When Sea Strikes the Mind (in 3 parts: see track list), Brainwashed, Let's Sleep On It, and Illusions (4, 5, 7, 8, & 10), are true hallmarks of this album shining with really outstanding and completely progressive arrangements. Also, all of them feature the parts of keyboards. The only instrumental on the album, Silencium est Dorum, filled with a wide variety of diverse and masterful interplay between solos and riffs of the two electric guitars, those of bass guitar, etc, is overall the fastest composition here. The album's title track, Illusions (10), is especially notable for its mixed textures that are typical for both of the European music and that of the East. All three of the remaining songs, the 11-minute When Sea Strikes the Mind, Brainwashed, and Let's Sleep On It (5, 7, & 8), are real killers and at every aspect. Stylistically, each of them is about a highly original and intricate Prog-Metal with elements of Symphonic Art-Rock. Apart from the 'heavy' arrangements, these songs feature the lush passages and bright solos of synthesizer, those of a string ensemble, and 'classical' passages of acoustic guitar. All of this is here has a dramatic character, including most of the vocal parts.

Summary. Speaking of French Progressive in general, it would be incorrect not to notice that Prog-Metal is currently one of the most important constituents of it. Furthermore, the contemporary Prog-Metal movement in France is not only much larger than those in the UK, Germany, and most, if not all, of the other European countries, but is also notable for really strong bands, such as the hero of this review and many others. This week, and also in the beginning of December, I am going to review several more albums by the Prog-Metal bands that came out from France. By the way, most of them are stronger than Morpheus's "Illusions", which, in its turn, I just can't rate lower than a very good album.

VM: November 19, 2002


Related Links:

Morpheus: http://www.morpheus-world.com/

Brennus Records: http://www.brennus.fm.fr/

Musea Records: http://www.musearecords.com/


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