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TRACK LIST: 1. Translation 4:53 2. The Dream Prisoner 5:21 3. Stay 6:04 4. In Memory 6:22 5. Made As One 5:00 6. Sacrum 6:15 7. Innerself 5:21 8. Cognition 7:51 9. No Turning Back 2:34 LINEUP: Martin Guerrera – guitars; backing vocals Estanislao Silveyra – lead vocals Mariano Herraiz – keyboards Agustin Acosta – drums Diego Cipolla – bass
Prolusion. “Cognition”, the first official release by Argentinean band SACRUM, arrived without any supporting material.
Analysis. Of the seven recordings I have investigated so far this month only three are to my liking, all coming from the South American continent – a point to think about, considering the general state of affairs with progressive rock music, especially in Europe, where there is currently direct evidence of the decadence of the genre. Overall, it would be safe to mention that this album finds its makers taking for the most part after the style established by Dream Theater, though they definitely having their own, quite specific vision of it, lavishly spicing it with techno thrash and progressive doom metal devices, putting a somewhat greater emphasis on the diversity of riffing as well as temporal (derived from “tempo”, if you are willing to accept this pseudo-neologism) shifts than on the soloing battles between instruments. Played in a more aggressive and abrasive way than those in classic contemporary Prog-Metal, the guitar riffs here remind me structurally of a crossover between the aforesaid band, early Pain Of Salvation, early-‘90s Voivod and classic Threshold. In the end, comparisons with Black Sabbath are at times inevitable also, some moves instantly bringing me mentally back to their “Born Again” album. With their raging, ultra-hard guitar riffs (some of which are really monumental), powerful drum beats and throbbing bass, Translation, The Dream Prisoner, Stay, Made As One and Innerself are all extremely intensive and busy compositions, sort of turbulent heavy waters with usually only one tiny island of calmness in their midst. Since each combines, say, a traditional progressive finesse with raw energy, I can offer you one more expression as a comparison: a hybrid between a hi-tech computer and a quarry bulldozer. Standing out for some airy, seemingly fragile, sonic constructions of a largely acoustic nature (involving piano, classical guitar and synthesizer strings), as well as a couple of keyboards-laden, more widely used within the genre, basically symphonic instrumental interludes, the song bearing the same title as the band does is in all senses the most diverse as well as compelling track here and is the one that just keeps changing. While featuring fewer acoustically-driven moves, In Memory is still a classy prog-metal opus, in many ways similar to Sacrum, almost irresistible in its turn. Unlike the five songs described first, where Estanislao Silveyra sings stably in a classically-restrained manner not too dissimilar to James La Brie’s, these two depict him as a possessor of an amazingly broad voice diapason, sounding equally convincing whether he provides high-pitched vocals or takes on a black metal screaming, to say the least. It’s a pity that Silveyra wasn’t allowed to display his chameleonic abilities on all the heavier songs on the disc (which explains why it didn’t receive the highest rating). The more or less solid quantity of guitar histrionics is only featured on the track that gives the recording its title. The sole instrumental here, Cognition does not keep the band’s basic stylistic course throughout, at times evolving as an art-rock piece; plus there are also some emotional bluesy guitar leads developing alongside the piano passages. Featuring only piano, acoustic guitar and vocals, the closing track, No Turning Back, is a thoughtful atmospheric ballad. A minor masterwork in its category, this is generally a very apt conclusion for the disc, especially bearing in mind how heavy the others tracks are.
Conclusion. Not as much (read greatly) intricate as I would like it to, “Cognition” is nevertheless an enjoyable listen and can be recommended probably to anybody having heavy Progressive in his or her musical bill of fare.
VM: Agst 17, 2008
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