[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
Sarax (Chile) - 2003 - "570 Kythera"
TRACK LIST: 1. Aparecen 0:34 2. Zirok 2:54 3. Pirron 5:02 4. La Oracion de Glorio 5:48 5. Boicoteando el Propulsor 2:40 6. Pesadillas Makronas 4:26 7. Eventos en le Pok 2:54 8. Los Cachos de la Tormenta 4:31 9. Deliberado 1:25 10. Escapando de Iarkos 3:09 11. Fiesta Final 4:59 12. Cristalizado 1:36 13. Monologo 0:53 All tracks: by Velasco & Cifuentes. Engineered by Velasco. Produced by Sarax. LINE-UP: Velasco - drums; keyboards; vocals Cifuentes - basses; keyboards; vocals Figueroa - guitars Larenas - guitars
Prolusion. I continue reviewing the new and recent releases by Chile's Mylodon Records and Italy's Lizard Records. SARAX was formed in Chile in 1995. After releasing their debut album "Fecula Bicorporea" in 1997, the band quickly received a cult status in their homeland. Then followed "Ejecution" (2000) and "570 Kythera" (2003), which is the hero of this review.
Analysis. Music is an invisible, yet, highly mobile entity, which, moreover, has such specific features, unavailable in most of the other kinds of art, as interpretation (i.e. arrangement) and performance. Unlike a painting, for instance, with one creator behind it, the performed musical work is usually the product of activity of several 'authors', counting composer(s) and performers, and also the possibilities of the instruments used. Thus, collectivity in music is the matter of a great significance. Sarax's "570 Kythera" is a remarkable example of the power of joint efforts. Thanks to the well-coordinated performance of all the band members, the arrangements on the album are exceptionally harmonious and coherent, despite the fact that this music is quite singular. In this respect, I must note that the album is as heterogeneous stylistically as it is excellent musically. Most soloing battles develop to the accompaniment of cleverly 'chugging' guitar riffs, the diversity of which is beyond question, at least for this reviewer, and the structure is beyond any comparisons. Sarax does all this very well, without going overboard. Keyboards, especially piano, fit naturally among the metal crunch of guitars, and the band just shines with the ease when slipping from heavy, over-the-top machinations to serene symphonic beauty and back to intricate, hard-edged maneuvers again. The bass playing and the drumming are especially worthy of mention. Both the musicians easily hit at the intensity of metal, but one of their most significant values is how they handle low-level dynamics and create tension on virtually silent passages. Six out of the thirteen tracks are instrumentals, and the other seven are songs with lyrics in Spanish. Although the vocals cover only about one third of each of the songs on average, they're also rather unusual and diverse. To be more precise, with the exception of the first vocal number Zirok, all the songs are largely instrumental. Velasco and Cifuentes most often share the lead vocal parts, singing either together or alternating each other. One of them possesses a rather raw voice, which, though, isn't brutal, and the other is a chameleon singer who uses all the timbres of his wide vocal diapason, low tones included. As you have probably guessed already, Sarax tends to a rather non-typical Prog-Metal with distinct elements of symphonic Art-Rock. Yes, there also are some of those concerned Extreme Metal, but these can be found only in vocals. So, with a few insignificant reservations, it can be said that the primary style doesn't make a distinction between songs and instrumental compositions, reigning in more than a half of the album's contents. Any direct comparisons are impossible, but to bring to your notice what the stuff is at least structurally about, I'll dare to mention Voivod's "Nothing Face", "Sophisticated" by the little known, yet, brilliant German band Sieges Even and "The Seduction of Madness" by Garden Wall. As to peculiarities, they, as mentioned, are rather striking. The song Fiesta Final is a dark, mainly piano-driven Jazz-Fusion with the breathe of progressive Black Metal touching it from time to time. The music on the remaining three tracks: the song Los Cachos de la Tormenta and the instrumental pieces Deliberado and Cristalizado is still unique and intricate, but is free of any heaviness and all the other possible stylistic makeweights alike. This is symphonic Art-Rock, though the latter piece was performed without the rhythm section. Well, there are two more tracks, but they're too short to be regarded as real compositions. Taking the oppositions, i.e. opposite positions, in the track list, Aparecen and Monologo feature only slow synthesizer passages, effects plus random-like voices here and there and are actually the intro to the album and the outro, both symbolical.
Conclusion. Sarax is a great band that might get a lot of well-deserved international attention with such a unique and really strong material as is presented on "570 Kythera". Highly recommended to anyone into Prog-Metal save neophiles of any type.
VM: November 5, 2004
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]