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TRACK LIST: 1. Eye of the Moon 8:10 2. Dog's Bite 4:35 3. Fear of the Dark 6:07 4. Whispers in the Air 5:50 5. Harvests of Disorder 8:13 6. Dust & Bones 4:04 7. Murderer's Tea 4:59 8. Blank Destination 5:03 9. Foundation of a Dream 7:14 10. Dream of Escape 7:00 11. Carrousel 8:28 All tracks: by Sed Lex. LINE-UP: Jean-Luc Maza - guitars; vocals Jean-Marc Lafaye - keyboards Philippe Barrans - drums Bruno James - bass; vocals Produced by Maza & T. Servet. Engineered by T. Servet.
Prolusion. "De Viris" is the debut album by the French band SED LEX. The band's name is taken from one of the classic proverbs in Latin. Although I was more than once trying to recall it in its entirety, I wasn't able to do it. You may laugh, but the meaning of it has gone out of my brain, too.
Synopsis. According to the CD booklet, Sed Lex performs Hard Rock, which doesn't correspond to reality. The band's basic style is nothing else but Prog-Metal, which is honest, strong, tasteful, and is immediately attractive. Besides, the album shines with originality and tastefulness, and just contrary to Deafening Silence's debut, is the best among the Brennus Music productions that I am acquainted with at the moment. (Perhaps only Drop-O-Rama's >"Nothing Changes" is on par with this outing.) Although the eleven tracks here are songs, all of them feature a few different instrumental parts. Generally, purely instrumental arrangements, most of which are highly intriguing, cover no less than about a half of the album. The vocals are also original and are diverse and tasteful throughout. While singer and guitarist Jean-Luc Maza and keyboardist Jean-Marc Lafaye are obviously the central creative forces behind this quartet, all its members are inventive and masterful musicians. Successfully avoiding any cliches and banalities, Sed Lex looks like a highly experienced band already on their debut output, although, unlike Deafening Silence, they had only a couple of years to develop their compositional and performance mastery. While the album demonstrates quite a unified stylistics overall, the songs, taken separately, show some differences in the way of construction. The music on Eye of the Moon, Dog's Bite, Whispers in the Air, Harvests of Disorder, and Murderer's Tea (1, 2, 4, 5, & 7) represents a rather harsh Symphonic Prog-Metal with elements of Cathedral Metal, though the latter are present on most of the tracks here. Apart from the other instruments, including those of synthesizers and string ensemble, each of the songs Fear of the Dark, Foundation of a Dream, and Dream of Escape (3, 9, & 10) contains excellent passages of piano, going either separately or being interlocked with basic arrangements. These three are woven of mixed, heavy and symphonic textures throughout, though the latter song turned out to be rich also in elements of Jazz-Fusion. Dust & Bones (6) contains a rather long episode with brilliant interplay between passages of acoustic guitar and those of a string ensemble, and the last and longest track, Carrousel (11), is above all notable for classically influenced solos of electric guitar and synthesizer. All the songs on the album are excellent, and I could not choose one or some of them as the best.
Conclusion. Less melodic and polished than that by the popular band Adagio (their countrymen), Sed Lex's music is much more to my taste. In my view, this is one of the foremost and most competent contemporary Prog-Metal outfits to come out of France in the new millennium. These guys are canny enough to follow anyone's style, so their debut is the really outstanding work of the genre and is almost a masterpiece.
VM: May 24, 2004
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