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Track List: 1. The Great Masquerade 4:39 2. Papers & Screens 6:14 3. Child of Guyana 5:31 4. Little King 4:14 5. Reaching Your Soul 8:12 6. Angel In Me 6:07 7. Atlantis 5:20 8. Winds of Fear 6:35 9. Strange 7:01 (bonus track) All music by Xavier Bonneville, except 1 & 8: by Juret. All lyrics: by Juret. Line-up: Xavier Bonneville - guitars Blanc-Blanc - vocals Seb O'Haro - basses Eric Carrere - drums Produced by Nazca. Engineered by Carrere & Blanc at "Oasis", Reunion. Mixed & mastered by D. Ward at "Oasis".
Preamble. Once upon a time, France governed a distant province on a small island located somewhere in the boundless waters of Indian Ocean, and the name of that island was Reunion. I don't know whether Reunion is currently an independent state. In any case, "The White Wheel" is the debut album by Reunion's Nazca, so please don't confuse this outfit with the Mexican band of the same name.
The Album. Despite the fact that the parts of keyboards are present on each of the nine tracks on "The White Wheel", and some of them are more than merely noticeable, there is no info on these instruments, etc, in the album's booklet. So I can only suppose that Juret, who composed two songs and wrote all the lyrics of this album (see details above), is also the keyboard player on it. If not to count Strange (9), which is a bonus track and is about a guitar-based Art-Rock with elements of both of Prog-Metal and Symphonic Art-Rock, all eight of the 'official' tracks here are of a unified stylistic concept representing Prog-Metal with elements of Symphonic Art-Rock. Back to Strange, which, by the way, is the only instrumental piece on the CD, it's as original, complex, and interesting as: just everything that is presented here. Indeed, each track on "The White Wheel" features most, if not all, of the essential progressive ingredients that are typical for the Prog-Metal genre. The instrumental arrangements are always diverse and effective on the album - regardless of whether there are vocals at the moment or not. Back to keyboards, there are only two tracks on the album where the parts of them were used just as a background for heavy arrangements: Atlantis (7) and The Great Masquerade (1), though an intro to the latter of them consists exclusively of the slow passages of synthesizer. The intros to Papers & Screens and Little King (2 & 4) are represented by the diverse and beautiful passages of piano, while the instrumental parts on these songs feature also the bright solos of organ and synthesizer (respectively). The instrumental episodes consisting of wonderful interplay between the classical-like passages of piano and those of acoustic guitar are present on Child of Guyana, Angel In Me, and Wind of Fear (3, 6, & 8). The latter of them, as well as Strange (9), is also notable for passages and rhythms of an acoustic guitars that are interwoven with basic musical structures. Another amazing interplay - between the solos of bass, passages of acoustic guitar, and those of synthesizer - is one of the hallmarks of Reaching Your Soul (5). What's interesting, is while the instrumental arrangements are mostly dramatic on the album, most of the vocal parts have a distinct romantic feel to them.
Summary. Overall, Nazca's Prog-Metal is softer and a bit more diverse than that, which is presented on Falkirk's CD, reviewed by me previously, though I am pleased with the music of both of these French bands. The same words however, can be said with regard to most of the Prog-Metal bands that came out from France for the last three years, at least. Though specially, I am impressed with the fact that musically, not a single of this country's Prog-Metal bands that I've heard up till now reminds me of Dream Theater and any other of the most successful and influential bands of the genre.
VM: March 5, 2003
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