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(45:01, Musea-Parallele Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Etre La 4:06 2. C'est Pas le Sang 6:12 3. Liberez Ma Conscience 4:51 4. Desillusion 3:49 5. Blatteman 8:28 6. La Douleur de l'Absence 6:26 7. Tenir Quand Meme 5:07 8. Plus Tard 5:56 LINEUP: Didier - vocals; keyboards; drums Manu - guitars, bass
Prolusion. "Liberez Ma Conscience" is the debut release by MYSTERE MAN, a French duo embracing a certain Didier on vocals, keyboards and drums and a certain Manu on guitars and bass. The men's refusal to present their last names gives them away: they are lads.
Analysis. As concerns their chosen style, Mystere Man well suit the basic (so to speak privileged) band roster of their publisher, Musea Records. To cut a long story short, it is certainly not due to the irony of fate that their "Liberez Ma Conscience" was released through Musea Parallele, one of those divisions of the label whose artists themselves bear expenses for the edition of their creations. The press kit invites the listener to take Mystere Man's music as an amalgamation of French chanson, Neo Prog in the style of Pallas and Dream Theater-inspired Prog-Metal. The term of French chanson instantly suggests to me the songs by Charles Aznavour and Edit Piaf, but with the exception of one brief episode on Tenir Quand Meme, which features the sounds of accordion, there is nothing of that kind on the album, Didier singing either in the theatric fashion (think Mona Lisa) or in a quite aggressive style adopted in heavy music. The second reference point seems to be completely out of place, unless we take Pallas's third disc, "The Wedge", but there the music is prog-tinged Hard-n-Heavy, not Neo Progressive. One way or another, the duo most of the time try to operate on territories that are adjacent to Prog-Metal, so the comparison to Dream Theater is at least tolerable. In reality however, none of the bands offered as references came to mind when I listened to this disc. Mystere Man are guided by a variety of 'heavy' styles, such as Doom Metal, NWBHM, symphonic Hard Rock and even conventional Heavy Metal, but they rarely succeed in properly blending those influences, which in the majority of cases prevents them from reaching prog-metal standards which, as we know, are very high, demanding much from those who desire to join the ranks of the genre's representatives. Besides, the quantity of returns to previously played themes featured on the album (the opening track, Etre La, being abundant in those) is admissible only as long as we regard this music as something less ambitious than Prog-Metal, perhaps as a proto-Prog-Metal. In terms of style, the first four tracks, Etre La, C'est Pas le Sang, Liberez Ma Conscience and Desillusion, and also the last one, Plus Tard, are all kindred creations whose (sort of) collective appearance brings to mind several bands simultaneously: Savatage, Tiamat, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Enchant and more. Tenir Quand Meme is a creation of Neo, reminiscent of Versailles. Only the remaining song, the largely instrumental La Douleur de l'Absence, does not arouse any associations, musically representing something halfway between the previously named tune and any of the five mentioned first. The only instrumental, Blatteman (the longest track here, exceeding eight minutes in length) best of all reflects what Mystere Man are able to do, more or less well suiting my concept of fully-fledged Prog-Metal. However not all goes off swimmingly even there. The point is that to a lesser or greater degree, all the tracks on this disc are lacking in compositional cohesiveness, though not everything seems to be quite right there from their performance perspective either. The guys show themselves as competent musicians only when playing their primary instruments, guitars and keyboards, and are really low-tech when trying the others, particularly drums, most of which in addition have an awful sound. Also, the production values are rather threadbare, betraying the recording's home-brew origin.
Conclusion. "Liberez Ma Conscience" is a rather green creation, the recording's unpolished nature revealing itself on many levels. The duo's lack of experience in terms of both composition and performance is obvious almost throughout, so they have to continue working on self-improvement. Nevertheless, their music is not without interesting ideas. Hopefully a follow-up to this CD will find the guys with a full band and better resources to meet with recognition from the critics and public alike.
VM: December 1, 2007
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