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(69:33 / Viajero Inmovil Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Darkest Side 7:33 2. Prossession-I 1:52 3. Fading Points 7:20 4. Broken Minstrel 5:07 5. Introspection 2:33 6. Urban Battle-I 5:18 7. Eye In the Hole 6:29 8. Dragonfly 4:34 9. Sadness 2:42 10. Urban Battle-II 7:34 11. Interlude 2:24 12. Urban Battle-III 4:27 13. Prossession-II 2:05 14. Awareness 5:52 15. Urban Battle-IV 3:35 LINEUP: Sebastian Medina - lead vocals; el. & ac. guitars Juan Manuel Tavella - organ, piano, accordion Federico Ferme - el. & ac. guitars Juan Manuel Salidas - bass Mauro Graziano - drums With: Ivana Luna - violin Alejandro Sganga - violin Fernando Estrup - viola Marcela Muollo - cello Daniela Berenstein - cello Gabriel Safronchik - contrabass Ricardo Luna - flute & Operatic choir
Prolusion. WILLIAM GRAY is an Argentinean outfit that, apart from five permanent members (see lineup above), involves seven chamber musicians plus a choir of ten operatic singers of both sexes. "Living Fossils" is their debut release and is in fact an enterprise which, according to the project's founder and its individual song provider Sebastian Medina, is designed to unite three elements, namely the album itself, an audio-visual show and a multi-media website.
Analysis. I don't list operatic singers by name (in the lineup section in particular), because their overall contribution to the album is insignificant, compared to that of the other guest participants. Only the shortest two cuts on this 15-track recording, Prossession-I and Prossession-II, find the choir being busy (otherwise their appearance bears an exclusively episodic character), in both cases singing to church organ. I have no idea what means "prossession", but the pieces are basically very similar to each other, both suggesting "procession", or "litany" if you will. The principal difference between them concerns the emotional element of the choir's singing, which is pastoral on Part I and is deeply dramatic on Part II. The other three short cuts - those not exceeding 3 minutes in duration - are all classical-like pieces, Introspection comprising acoustic guitar and cello, Sadness piano and synthesizer, and Interlude violin and viola, respectively. The remaining four instrumentals all have a common title, coming as parts of the Urban Battle opus, which, in its overall appearance, I am inclined to regard as the group's first magnum opus. Part I and Part II have very much in common between them, both basically referring to that modified form of progressive Doom Metal which was born in the late '80s and blossomed in the early-mid '90s, although the insertion of organ with a pronouncedly retro sound into the hard textures is definitely an innovation on the part of William Gray, as also is their use of classical-like interludes with only chamber instruments in the arrangement. Part III is much the same story, only differing in its riff structure, which belongs to NWBHM, plus there are lush orchestral arrangements to be found in places here. As almost everywhere on the disc, the music doesn't reveal any direct influences, so only to give you a general idea of these three I suggest that you imagine a cross between Tiamat's "Wildhoney", "The Final Experiment" by Ayreon, "Tales of Creation" by Candlemass, Queensryche's "Operation Mindcrime" and "Wounded Land" by Threshold. Part IV, subtitled as Tango Version, has a rich chamber sound (no rock instruments here) and is for the most part indeed strictly in the style of Argentinean Tango, although some of the movements are strongly reminiscent of Chamber Prog with reference to RIO. The largely instrumental Darkest Side is also one of the winners. Besides, this tune would've been listed/viewed along with the first two segments of Urban Battle if only it hadn't featured orchestral arrangements, which, on the other hand, are part of the third piece of that composition. Please, readers, try to complement the picture on your own. Fading Points, Eye In the Hole and Broken Minstrel all evolve somewhat more unhurriedly, alternating purely acoustic patterns with ballad-like ones and, at times, both hard and intense arrangements belonging to the recording's primary style. Fading Points and Eye In the Hole are the only two tracks where, well, outside factors are too obvious to miss them. The former seems to be aptly titled, as if reflecting its maker, Sebastian's state at the time when he penned it. That song too frequently and, at once, openly hints of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" and "Operation Mindcrime" by Queensryche to track down the group's original ideas, usually so much peculiar to their work. Eye In the Hole is a less derivative thing, but nonetheless one of its central instrumental storylines instantly summons up I Want You from The Beatles' "Abbey Road". The remaining two tracks, Dragonfly and Awareness, are both soft ballads involving only vocals and various acoustic instruments.
Conclusion. "Living Fossils" is an enjoyable listening experience. At least within its weight, i.e. genre category, the album is very close to a status of masterpiece, so I can highly recommend it to anyone who likes the idea running all through the review.
VM: May 18, 2007
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