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(52:40, 10t Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Intro 3:13 2. Prolog 3:24 3. City 2:06 4. Lot 4:54 5. The Capture 3:32 6. Black Feast-I 2:48 7. The Orgy 4:18 8. Folly of Mob 6:45 9. The Blindness/Wife's Prayer 5:07 10. Black Wedding 4:07 11. Black Feast-II 3:42 12. Procession of Dead Stars 2:53 13. The Escape 2:11 14. To the Flames 3:40 LINEUP: Albert Khalmurzaev – keyboards; guitars; vocals; harmonica Vitaly Popeloff – guitars Vladimir Badirov – drums Andrew Mara-Novik – bass Evgeniy Popelov – keyboards; vocals
Prolusion. The Uzbekistan band FROMUZ first appeared as recoding artists back in 2005 with the DVD "Playing the Imitation", and have been an active band unit ever since with a further DVD, a live CD and four studio albums to their name since then. "Sodom and Gomorrah" is their most recent production, and was released through the US label 10t Records in the fall of 2013.
Analysis. While this production didn't surface until 2013, the actual recordings took place back in 2008, and personally I knew this production was in the works but just didn't know when it would appear. FromUz is a band fairly active in terms of recording material, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if they have an album or three in waiting for a future release right now. One detail that does set this production a bit apart from their other ones is that on this occasion all the material have been composed by keyboardist Khalmurzaev, and the booklet actually stated directly that this is an album where FromUz performs the music of Albert Khalmurzaev. It may also appear that this album is, in fact, the soundtrack for a stage production rather than a pure musical entity in its own right. The compositions are all fairly short affairs, the greater majority clocking in well below five minutes. And while quite a few of them are seamlessly tied together, to the extent that this production may just as well be described as a single composition divided into 14 parts, the shifts in pace, mood, intensity and expression make this particular specimen of such an approach one where that isn't a matter of any great importance. There's also enough variation and developments occurring within any single part here to more than satisfy the needs of the greater majority of progressive rock fans. I suspect. Basically, this album as a whole revolves around a few given expressions alternating. Sparse, dampened sequences of a frail and careful nature, with delicate guitar and gentle keyboards as the main ingredients on extreme, the other feature dark toned riffs and rich layered keyboards in majestic, passionate constellations. In between we find plenty of soundtrack inspired passages using voice effects, sampled nature sounds, brief samples of more or less well known songs from jazz and rock history that make some key appearances towards the end, elegant symphonic progressive rock constellations where Khalmurzaev's keyboards really rise to the occasion, and at last we're treated to some fine instances of smooth, dark toned and brooding progressive rock of a kind and nature most fans of late 70's Pink Floyd will recognize. There's obviously a story being told here, and the mood and atmosphere changes from one part to the next as a part of that story being told, I suspect. Black Feast I is a fairly dark piece in mood for instance, while The Orgy alternates between pace-filled, energetic runs and more or less eerie interludes, this one taking on an unreal, unworldly mood towards the end. The Blindness/Wife's Prayer is a creation that appears to revolve around despair on multiple levels, while the concluding, effects laden To the Flames is a creation dominated by unsettling sounds that give rise to associations about hell itself. Sophisticated, at times fairly intricate progressive rock, is a specialty of FromUz as I know them, and while this specific production appears to be of a somewhat different character than their previous ones, there's a lot to enjoy on this album too. A taste for careful use of theatrical effects and soundtrack-oriented compositions might come in handy however.
Conclusion. FromUz is a band that have managed to intrigue me with all the material they have released to date, and "Sodom and Gomorrah" is no exception there. While the songs, or parts if you like, all are fairly short in length, there's still plenty of developments alongside minor and major shifts in intensity and expression to wrap your head around. The emphasis is symphonic progressive rock, flavored with careful dramatic and soundtrack oriented effects, with a select few Pink Floyd oriented passages perhaps underlining the slight emphasis on atmosphere on this production. And an album well worth lending your ear to if that sounds like a compelling blend.
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