[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
(51 min, Sensory)
TRACK LIST: 1. Intro 1:05 2. Willow Man 4:05 3. The Muzzle Affection 5:27 4. Dance of the Descent 3:36 5. Another Empty Haven 5:55 6. Strife for Definition 4:49 7. Sleepwalk 4:37 8. EYE 4:44 9. Utopia Fragmentea 6:43 10. Minutes to Abandon 3:55 11. Provoke the Divine 6:14 LINEUP: Domenik Papaemmanouil - lead vocals; guitars Alex Katsiyiannis - guitars; backing vocals Nick Valetzis - bass Christos Kyrkilis - keyboards Kostis Papaleksopoulos - drums
Prolusion. WASTEFALL is a young band from Greece, the oldest of their members being just 23. However they have three full-length CDs already: "Fallen Stars & Rising Scars" (July 2003), "Soulrain 21" (November 2004) and "Self-exile", which was released this last June (their first for Sensory/Laser's Edge Records).
Analysis. I always feel a deep satisfaction when I hear an album that doesn't remind me of anything else existing under the skies - even if I burn with the desire to get any associations in order to lighten my load while writing a review (which I normally try to avoid though). "Self-exile" is just such a case. On the one hand, this album seems to be perfectly suited to the Sensory family; on the other, it quite vividly stands out against the label's overall musical panorama, being abundant in features that are peculiar exclusively to Wastefall and, hence, are nothing else but innovations. (The same contradictory feeling I experience while listening to "Penumbra Diffuse" by their label-mates Canvas Solaris.) I became fully intrigued already on encountering the opening piece Intro, which is the best intro I've heard in years and is a highly imaginative thing, despite its shortness, as well as the absence of any instruments excepting a wistful, orientally-inflected vocalization accompanied by the natural moan of the wind. There is a hint in the previous sentence, but I think I should directly point the matter out: Domenik Papaemmanouil's vocal mastery is one of the strongest trumps Wastefall have up their sleeve. This is a true chameleon singer using his voice as an additional lead instrument, ready to join electric and acoustic guitar, bass, keyboards and drums in their endless soloing dance at any convenient moment, often in the form of vocalization. Yes, another hallmark of this creation lies in the fact that all the musicians, without exception, appear to be lead players, inventing and delivering their solos independently from each other, which imparts a light semi-improvisational feeling to quite a significant part of the material, though in the piano work such a sense is often overt. Sadly, the first four songs show that keyboardist Christos Kyrkilis was forced (exactly) to keep in the background, and the three with a full-band sound throughout (Willow Man, The Muzzle Affection and Another Empty Haven) lose something essential just because of that, even though I can admit they are excellent already as they are. All the significant attributes determining a genuine Techno Prog-Metal sound are here - the complex stop-to-play movements, the endless use of odd meters, the frequent shifts of tempo and direction, and so on. The former is the most uncompromising, filled with an unbridled energy - like a volcano during its eruption, and no even a small island of calmness in this sea of raging musical lava. The other two alternate the described qualities with eclectic non-heavy arrangements, structurally referring to guitar Art-Rock. Both are highly formidable, plus unmistakably original compositions, the only matter disposing me to give some preference to their 'brothers in style' from the album's second half (EYE and Utopia Fragmentea) being a shortage of keyboard patterns. Utopia Fragmentea is the richest in such, as there are lush string arrangements, apart from the piano passages, which nevertheless, seem to be really ubiquitous on these and most of the still unnamed pieces as well. The sampled cello and violin are part of the palette of a few more songs, and one of such, Provoke the Divine, can hardly be viewed otherwise than as symphonic Art-Rock of the first water, though unique from head to toe - with only elements of heavy music. Strife for Definition is the same story, just with more contrasts on the structural level and in the emotional spectrum, due to the appearance of some atmospheric textures and an additional, charming voice belonging to a guest female singer, respectively. The latter is also featured on the pronouncedly symphonic Sleepwalk, which is the height of dramatics with reference to our beloved genre. Very touching. I will not be able to describe all the beauty of this piece in words. Dance of the Descent and Minutes to Abandon both are built around the crossing passages of two acoustic guitars, the former being rooted in Greek folk music, Bouzouki (don't confuse with Sirtaki, which is a jolly Greek dance), and is imbued with piquant oriental flavorings in addition. Brilliant. Generally, the first, fourth and the last five pieces can be described with a single, yet very eloquent and meaningful word "magic".
Conclusion. Wastefall's "Self-exile" is one of the most innovative and attractive creations of heavy progressive music to appear this year. I am sure many connoisseurs of the genre will perceive this album as a draught of pure air - at least considering the current state of the Prog-Metal scene. For me, this is just fascinating music, growing on me with each successive listen.
VM: Agst 21, 2006
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]