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(51:29, Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Dance of the Waves 7:23 2. First Creature 7:14 3. Inner War 8:08 4. Learning to Lose 7:12 5. Regrets 4:28 6. Tears of Kaliroe 16:41 LINEUP: Antonio Vittozzi – guitars Mark Bazile – vocals Lucio Grill – bass Antonio Mocerino – drums Luca De Gennaro – keyboards
Prolusion. Only about four years have passed since the formation of this Italian quintet, SOUL SECRET. Besides the fact that Mark Bazile (formerly of Mind Key) replaced original singer Michele Serpico in the beginning of 2007, no significant changes preceded the release of their first official CD, “Flowing Portraits”.
Analysis. I see two different ways to begin this paragraph, so I’d better use both. First: Soul Secret is another bright representative of classic contemporary Prog-Metal to appear on the roster of the US Progrock Records label. Second: With Soul Secret the number of followers of Dream Theatee has once again grown. These relatively young Italians sound like very good disciples of the American living legend, as if they spent a lot of time with those guys, having scrupulously learned the peculiarities of their style and the subtlety of their performance technique as well. The influence that the most popular ever prog-metal act exerts (or rather has been exerting for a good number of years: perhaps since the early ‘90s) on, so to speak, the modern generation of the genre is so strong that it seems to be quite possible nowadays to use its name as a stylistic definition. I could have from the outset managed without any specific genre terms, be it prog or metal or anything else, so if I had put “Most of the music on this CD is classic Dream Theater”, everyone would have instantly grasped the essence of the matter. In this particular case, the reader doesn't need a track-by-track investigation and probably one of a detailed elaboration of the recording’s prevalent picture either, though as a last resort, the latter matter can be described within a single sentence. Being in some ways in keeping with its title, “Flowing Portraits”, this is stylistically almost monolithic material where there are no lack of clever themes, hard-and-edgy avalanche-like arrangements, acoustically-driven interludes, dramatic transitions, technically complex-yet-flawlessly-performed both rapid and swirling guitar and keyboard leads (let alone an excellent ensemble playing in general), as manifested by all of the disc’s seven tracks save for the shortest one, Regrets. The only oddball here, this acoustic guitar-based ballad isn’t as sonically saturated or complicated as Another Day for instance, but nonetheless it more than frequently changes its course and, what’s most surprising and amazing alike, it bears the exclusive trademark of its creators, on all levels, the vocal one included for sure. More details anyhow? Okay, the opening track, Dance of the Waves, which is the most firm structurally (featuring only one brief lull), and the final one, the monumental epic Tears of Kaliroe, are both easily perceived as being the same for this album as Call Me Under and Learning to Live are respectively for Dream Theater’s “Images & Words”. First Creature reveals probably the most well-balanced combination of hard and soft weavings, the last of which are provided by a string synthesizer. Inner War is the second most varied composition and has a fine piano postlude. As for Learning to Lose (recall Learning to Live and feel the difference :-), it instantly brings to mind the idea that, while so strictly following their mentors in general, its makers should have titled the last track this way. In reality, this is the sole tune here where most of the vocal sections are almost free of heaviness, being additionally almost festive in mood (okay, maybe not exactly festive, but in any case much lighter than anywhere else on the recording).
Conclusion. The song titled Learning to Lose is a kind of conclusive evidence that Soul Secret had no far-reaching designs (to achieve commercial success, for instance) when choosing the style they did, but were (and still certainly are) just bewitched by Dream Theater and their work. Nonetheless, all this has been played before, many times, and not only by the originators of the style. I confirm that both musically and technically, “Flowing Portraits” is overall a very good collection of songs, though I’d have probably rated it as a masterpiece if Dream Theater was behind it.
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