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(59:19; Progressive Promotion Records)
This concept album, which tells the story of a musician who has lost his inspiration and turns to alcohol, is the fifth from the French group since they were formed by drummer Didier Pegues and keyboard player Philippe Banabes as Eye to Eye back in 2003. They have been the only constants since then, but it is interesting to realise that this album has the same line-up as 2017’s ‘The Light Bearer’, except that the lead singer from that album, Michel Cerron is now a guest providing backing vocals and narration, and Jack Daly, who was lead singer on 2009’s ‘After All…’ has returned (the line-up is completed by bassist Etienne Damin and guitarist Bruno Pegues). Apart from the slightly accented vocals, one would think this was an American album from the 90’s, from the artwork, presentation and logo through their version of neo prog and would be hard pressed to realise this is a new French release. There are a couple of guests who add significant nuances, especially Marie Pascale Vironneau whose violin could have been used even more widely, such is the impact she has when she is involved. The band understand the need for dynamics, but it is the quicker paced numbers where they really shine through, as here they allow the guitars and keyboards to take control, with the middle section of “The Hidden Muse (Ghosts, Pt. 3)” a case in point as there is a huge contrast between that and the strained slower passages. There are two lengthy ambitious songs coming in at more than sixteen minutes in length, although they are broken up into multiple sections, but for me the band are stretching themselves just too far, and they do not have impact they could have. I am also not convinced of the vocals, as while Jack has a wonderfully emotional style, it does not always gel well with the music underneath, and there is a feeling that we are very much in the early 90’s and bands from that movement when they were just starting out as opposed to a group who have recorded five albums. An interesting and fairly enjoyable neo prog release, but not essential.
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