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(45:31, Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Piece of Mind 3:57 2. Dark Shadows 5:28 3. Miles Away 5:00 4. Violent Dream-110:07 5. One Moment 6:54 6. Vicious Circle 3:51 7. The Last Sunrise 10:14 LINEUP: Przemek Betanski – guitars Janusz Glon – guitars Michal Jarski – vocals Adam Biskup – bass Hubert Murawski – drums With: Pawel Balcer – keyboards Marcin Grzella – keyboards Paulina Tomaszewska – vocals
Prolusion. The Polish band XANADU was formed back in 2008, and after scoring an initial demo in 2010 they started to further develop material for their debut album. The end result came in the shape of "The Last Sunrise", released by Progrock Records in 2011.
Analysis. Progressive metal has been an increasingly popular style for a couple of decades now, with outfits like Dream Theater and Fates Warning the ones who have spurned the greatest number of bands trying to either replicate or further develop their take on the style. But as time has gone by other acts appeared too, and I suspect we'll see a fair amount of artists taking on the approach by the newer generation of progressive metal acts. And one of the bands I suspect will be frequently quoted as a possible influence is another Polish band, namely Riverside. And Xanadu seems to take a few cues from their fellow countrymen when they wrote their material. The lead vocals in particular are delivered with a rather similar approach, powerful and melodic yet soothing and relaxing at the same time, emotional as well as subtly detached. Michal Jarski does cover a somewhat different range than Riverside's vocalist, but the similarities in delivery can at times be pleasantly alike. Musically Xanadu also manages to craft themes with dark toned guitar riffs backed by synth or organ motifs in a similar manner as Riverside, in particular on the brilliant, compact piece Vicious Circle. But bass driven themes with guitar details utilizing various amounts of tone and distortion backed by synths with more of a futuristic sound are also a part of the package, and one might surmise that Porcupine Tree is another band the members of Xanadu are familiar with. A third dimension in their compositions is calmer sequences with plucked guitar licks and symphonic backdrops, occasionally trading the former element with dampened guitar riffs, which brings a band like Sylvan to mind, as well as modern neo progressive rock in terms of style. But amidst the similarities I never get the feeling that Xanadu is a band that tries to replicate or directly mimic any of the bands mentioned, and most often the similarities are of a kind that doesn't make you feel like they have copied anything either. So while "The Last Sunrise" isn't an innovative production as such, it's not blatantly derivative either. It's more like nods in the direction of bands that have inspired them or a band that tries to assemble certain details in a slightly new setting and arrangement. The end result is a nice one however, well planned, performed and produced, with plenty of engaging and enticing themes that maintain interest quite nicely.
Conclusion. I'd suspect fans of Riverside should be singled out as the main target audience for Xanadu, as there are plenty of similarities between these two acts as far as stylistic expression go. But fans of Porcupine Tree and to a lesser extent Sylvan might also find quite a lot to enjoy on this disc. And I suspect most people into all three bands references will find this album to be a worthwhile acquisition.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: Agst 3, 2012
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