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(66:06, ‘Fantai’zic’ / Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Genesis 2. The First Disturbing Contact 3. Other Keys 4. The Inner Control 5. Under the Banner of Faith 6. Messengers of the Verb 7. Of New Idols 8. Supervision 9. Human God 10. Disconnected LINEUP: Matthieu Morand – guitars; bass Thomas Das Neves – drums Kevin Kazek – vocals With: Nicolas Soulat – keyboards, orchestral sequences
Prolusion. The 66-minute “Majestic 12 Open Files” is the debut release by SYMAKIA. However, this French outfit consists of experienced musicians, all of whom are members of some of the country’s most significant contemporary heavy metal acts, such as Elvaron and Seyminhol.
Analysis. While displaying the influences of both of the above bands, Symakia is nevertheless musically closer to the latter. To be more precise, it leans towards the technical side of NWBHM, so be prepared for surprises, especially in the quartet’s ability to incorporate a variety of progressive features, including high-tech musicianship and frequent changes in theme and tempo (no matter that much of the stuff is fast-to-rapid in pace), plus they rather frequently appeal to symphonic music – by deploying orchestral arrangements in particular. Here, however, I must make a reservation. On three of the ten tracks presented, namely The Inner Control, Messengers of the Verb and Genesis, the keyboards tend to be used more for effect than as a vehicle for melodic content. It’s the guitars that drive the show on each of these, while the bass and drums provide a solid bottom end (at times a highly eclectic foundation in fact) that helps to make the pieces sound, well, even more interesting. The music is reminiscent of Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” (the band’s best album ever, IMHO) and Helloween circa ‘87-’88 and is almost on the same level in terms of progressiveness as well, in all cases. The vocals aren’t brilliant, but aren’t your standard fare either, at least on such songs as The First Disturbing Contact, Other Keys, Messengers of the Verb and Of New Idols, on each of which the singer takes on a few of different vocal characters in a rather theatrical sense, going from a powerful wail to spoken parts to muted whispering, at times within the confines of the same composition. The instrumental content of the former track is made up exclusively of sounds of keyboard and chamber instruments, such as violins, harp, and so on. The piece is full of beauty and dark at the same time, very similar to the intros and interludes that are part of any concept albums by King Diamond. The other three songs each contain a section with similar, lush, orchestral arrangements, but overall, all of them represent a confluence of symphonic Prog-Metal and classic NWBHM (think Judas Priest’s “Ram It Down”, and you won’t miss), most of the time alternating the corresponding moves, though. The last two songs on the disc, Human God and Supervision, are worse, however, indicating that the band is affected by the notorious CD syndrome. In both cases the prog-metal component is out, and the vocals are often totally incomprehensible. Thankfully, the concluding track, Disconnected (the sole instrumental here), save the situation in a way. Using a virtual orchestra, it comes across as a little piece of classical music somewhere in the manner of Gustav Holst’s cycle “The Planets”.
Conclusion. There are some moments on the album, on its vocal level in particular, that mar the overall picture. Nonetheless, most of it has a sound that climbs well above average cliched confines of standard NWBHM.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: December 5, 2011
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