[ KEY REVIEWS | SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
Conception: Part 1 - The Story of the Fallen Chief (tracks 1 to 4) Part 2 - The Past Legacy (5 to 7) Part 3 - The Flail of the North (8 to 11) Track List: 1. Land of Long Cold Winter 1:39 2. Iron of God 5:04 3. The Call of War 8:13 4. The Funeral 5:38 5. Ode to Eternity 6:48 6. Under a Blood Red Banner 6:20 7. Sackonungr 9:02 8. Immortal Lords 6:29 9. Berserkir 1:29 10. At the Back of Thunder 6:09 11. Into the Wind of Chaos 2:51 All music: by Seyminhol & N. Pelissier. All lyrics & concept story: by K. Kazek. Line-up: Kevin Kazek - lead & backing vocals, narration Nicolas Pelissier - keyboards; electric & acoustic guitars Chris Billon-Larovre - basses Julien Truttmann - drums Guest musicians: Marco Smacchi - electric & acoustic guitars (on 5 tracks) Eric Peron - electric guitar (on 3 tracks) Bruno Jagle - bagpipe (on 2 tracks) With: Deborah Hofer & Men - backing vocals & choir (on 3 tracks) Produced by Seyminhol. Arranged, recorded, & mixed by Gilles Kauffman. Mastered by Yvon at "Kirk Production" studio, France.
Preamble. Seyminhol was formed in February of 1992 and, during its ten-year activity, this French band released a few mini-CDs. "Northern Recital", the first full-length CD by the band, is a concept album based on the ancient Scandinavian tales and myths.
The Album. After hearing the first two songs on the album: Iron of God and The Call of War (2 & 3), both of which are highly influenced by Helloween (circa the "Keeper of the Seven Keys" dilogy), I was almost sure that this album is entirely about Teutonic Metal. (Which, in its turn, is kind of the German branch of NWBHM.) Fortunately, it turned out to be that stylistically, "Northern Recital" is quite a motley album. Furthermore, with the exception of Under a Blood Red Banner and At the Back of Thunder (tracks 6 & 10), both of which, though, are influenced by Helloween only partly, all of the other tracks here are both highly original and progressive. Here, though, I have to make a reservation that both of the songs that I was just talking about (6 & 9) are, overall, sound progressive as well. Stylistically, they represent a blend of NWBHM and Progressive Doom-Metal of a dramatic character, and not just NWBHM. All seven of the remaining tracks on "Northern Recital" are, overall, more than merely excellent and all of them sound different than any of the NWBHM-related four songs either quite radically or completely. The contents of the songs: The Funeral, Ode to Eternity, and Sackonungr (4, 5, & 7), represent quite a unique blend of Classic Prog-Metal and Symphonic Art-Rock with elements of Classical Music. These three are the most diverse and intricate compositions on the album. Berserkir (9) is a short and slow, yet, very noticeable instrumental piece done in the vein of symphonic Doom-Metal (think of Therion) and featuring a 'sinister' narration. All three of the remaining songs: Land of Long Cold Winter, Immortal Lords, and Into the Wind of Chaos (1, 8, & 11), are clearly about Symphonic Art-Rock, which, moreover, sounds very much like Classical Music. Consisting of diverse interplay between passages and solos of various chamber and string instruments, including the harp, and passages of acoustic guitar and piano, and performed without an electric guitar and the rhythm section, these three are the most beautiful pieces on "Northern Recital". Also, it must be said that all of the 'lyrical' parts on the album (and there are plenty of them here) sound exclusively dramatic - both vocally and instrumentally. Another aspect that should be mentioned here concerns the sound of the album, which, thanks to a very active and effective use of various keyboards, including a string ensemble, is very, very rich. By the way, there are much more of the solos of keyboards than those of guitar in the instrumental arrangements on "Northern Recital". So, on the whole, this is by no means 'your' typical Prog-Metal album.
Summary. Each of Seyminhol's four members showed a truly masterful musicianship on their debut album, while their joint performance is simply outstanding. The lead vocals, as well as the parts of the mixed choir that are heard here quite often, are very good and by all means. As for the album as a whole, I find "Northern Recital" one of the really strong debut albums of the Prog-Metal genre that I've heard in the new millennium.
VM: November 23, 2002
[ KEY REVIEWS | SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]