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(52 min, Azafran Media)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Call of The Ancients 1:28 2. Can You Hear Me Scream 4:25 3. Destiny I 4:25 4. Destiny II 4:58 5. Kingdom of Lies 4:21 6. Just Step Aside 4:53 7. Alter Ego 1:24 8. The One You Loved 4:09 9. Are You Out There I 1:12 10. Are You Out There II 3:24 11. To Tame a Savage Soul 3:21 12. Dark Angel 4:20 13. Quiet Listen 4:53 14. Aun Estoy Aqui 4:08 15. The Elves Song 1:01 LINEUP: Katia Fernnandez – lead vocals Bryan R. Villafurela – keyboards; b/v Damian Campos – rhythm guitar; b/v Javier de la Torre – flute, bagpipes David P. Quenedit – bass; b/v Alejandro Yero – violin; b/v Fabiel Perez – lead guitar Andry Alvarez – drums
Prolusion. SEPTUM is a septet from Cuba, all of the musicians professionally trained. “Quiet…Listen!” is their debut album. It was released last summer by the Mexican label Azafran Media, whose manager, Juan-Jose Salas, was previously the head of Luna Negra Records.
Analysis. The fifteen tracks here range from 1 to 5 minutes in length, but, nonetheless, all of them without exception are full-fledged musical creations – or compositions, if you like. Overall, the album can be divided into three or four genre categories, the prevalent one being nothing other than a blend of classic Prog-Metal and NWBHM, forming most of the basis of as many as eleven pieces. The strong Helloween overtones both compositionally and in guitars, keyboards and drums sound and styles, the long instrumental sections and rapid guitar and keyboard leads – all these traits are reminiscent of the German band’s late 80s releases, “Keeper of the Seven Keys II” in particular. However, “Quiet…Listen!” is by no means a rehash or clone of those proponents of progressive NWBHM. Many of the tracks, such as Can You Hear Me Scream, Destiny I, Destiny II, Kingdom of Lies, Just Step Aside and Dark Angel, have more complexity and diversity, going in more different directions than Helloween has ever pursued within a single song. Besides, some of the pieces, namely Are You Out There II, Aun Estoy Aqui and the title one, additionally deploy elements of both symphonic Art-Rock and Celtic folk music. The outfit’s most original voice, however, is vocalist Katia Fernnandez, an operatic singer whose soprano creates a striking contrast with hard instrumental structures and is simply wonderful in general, she singing in English almost without an accent. What also makes this music sound compelling is the band’s frequent use of different time meters. The time changes help to keep the long instrumental passages flowing and interesting, which is particularly obvious on the sans-vocals tunes: Alter Ego and To Tame a Savage Soul. The music is mostly fast-to-rapid (especially within the instrumental sections), intense throughout most of the described tracks, displaying the excellent performance abilities of all the band members without exception. Furthermore, the band at times does really stretch out tonally on the album – by periodically jumping into different modes (such as on the above three pieces that go beyond the progressive NWBHM idiom, for instance), not merely sticking with the standard major and minor. There is also a ballad, The One You Loved, but not a standard one, far from it. It is a refined art-rock ballad with elements of Celtic folk music. Finally, here’s one minor critical note. With the exception of a few spots on the album, like the previously named track, the cool bagpipe solo breaks on Are You Out There I and The Elves Song or the full-blown chamber music intro in the form of disc opener The Call of The Ancients (all three of which are instrumentals), the violin and woodwinds are most of the time noticeably secondary to the guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. More focus on those instruments would certainly add more depth to the overall sound of the recording.
Conclusion. Not only fans of progressive NWBHM, but also those into classic Prog-Metal should find a lot to like in the music of Septum (which, I believe, is clear from the review, though). All in all, I find their “Quiet…Listen!” one of the best albums of the genre released last year. Top-10-2013
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: January 16, 2014
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