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TRACK LIST: 1. Universal Prelude 2:40 2. Korzum Inc 5:50 3. Mother Universe 4:03 4. Senso-Fecondae 6:20 5. The Universal Being 5:31 6. Neo-Generation 5:28 7. Interlude 1:47 8. Degenerescence 5:12 9. Clash of the Titans 6:25 10. Magnetron 5:00 11. Doll of Flesh 7:03 12. Universal Finale 3:13 LINEUP: Xavier Boscher Ц bass, guitars; keyboards Benjamin Masson Ц guitars Drama Elfamorta Ц vocals With: Mathias Haldgren Ц drums
Prolusion. The French outfit NEBULEYES was formed in 1999 by Xavier Boscher and Benjamin Masson, and released its first album "Digital Enfant" in 2004. Three years later the self-released effort "Divine Revolution" saw the light of day, and in 2009 their third effort "The Universal Being" was made available.
Analysis. For this third effort to be released under the Nebuleyes moniker, it seems that Boscher and his bandmates are trying to find their way into a segment of sophisticated heavy music that has been enjoying a high degree of popularity for the last few years, namely symphonic metal. A central element in this style is operatic lead vocals, and more often than not it is a female voice that is the preferred choice for the bands that have success in that part of the musical landscape. In this case the vocals are provided by one Drama Elfamorta, and her approach is a rather experimental one. Or perhaps she's just not used to providing vocals for a metal act. Either way, her dominant role here is one that won't attract broader audiences towards checking out this band. While the higher notes suit the music rather nicely at times, it's when she enters the lower part of her register and when she switches over to a non-operatic vocal approach that her voice just doesn't seem to fit the musical context it has been placed in. Whther it is a planned experimental approach by the band or just a case of a struggling lead vocalist I can't really tell, but the overall effect is one of negative distraction. The compositions as such are more interesting. Boscher basically mixes three rather different musical styles into the blender on this occasion: straightforward power metal with hammering riffs and rhythms, a lighter and slightly intricate take on progressive metal, and harmonic, atmospheric rock of the neo progressive variety. The verse segments tend to follow the first in terms of style, while the chorus segments more often blend in elements of the latter two. The instrumental sequences more often than not are either of the latter two, but occasionally with distinct elements from both. And residing in the back of the mix or on top of the guitars are synth and keyboard textures, sparsely atmospheric or richly symphonic in approach. And while the instrumental parts of the proceedings don't offer up anything new or inventive, they are, for the most part, well planned and performed, and the mix of neo progressive and harder hitting metal does provide some tantalizing passages on occasion, intricate and hard hitting yet also highly melodic, harmonic and richly textured.
Conclusion. Symphonic metal is a popular genre, but also one that demands quite a lot from both musicians and vocalist(s) to succeed. If the aim here was to make an impact among the mainstream-oriented part of this market, my impression is that this effort most likely will be categorized as a failure. Those who might be interested in a take on this style of music with a very different approach to the lead vocals might just fancy this effort though, and in particular if the softer, melodic neo touches Boscher adds to his musical endeavors are regarded as a positive asset.
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