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Tracklist: 1. Mad Cucumber, Part 1 22:25 2. Mad Cucumber, Part 2 18:06 Line-up: Alexis Romanov - electric & acoustic guitars, guitar pedals (guitar-synth?) Alexander Beriozkin - bass guitar; vocalizes & screams Ivan Fedenko - drums & percussion With: ?? - female vocalizes on Part 2 All music written, arranged, performed, recorded and produced by Sepsis. Sound producer (mix engineer?) - Yuri Morozov.
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Prologue. For all I know, Sepsis' "A Liturgy of Madness" remains still the only real Prog-Metal album ever performed and recorded (at least without the use of keyboards) in the USSR / CIS. Actually, this album has been a mega-rarity until now, when at long last it was released on CD thanks to Andrei Rubin, chief manager of "Boheme Music International" (based permanently in the Czech Republic), - the only division of the Russian Moscow-based "Boheme" label. From the few resources we have about Sepsis, it is known that the band was founded in the beginning of the second half of the 1980s in the town of Pushkin, Leningrad province of the USSR. We don't know the year of recording of "A Liturgy of Madness" by the members of Sepsis on the master-tape, but the band had ceased to exist already by 1992 when a small private recording company "AnTrop" issued a few hundred copies of the album on LP.
The Album. Before I had time to thank God for music of very high quality that I presently receive along with most of the CDs, yet another album of said quality arrives here. When it is necessary to describe one by one those albums filled with cascades of complex and changing arrangements, in many ways similar to each other, it's not easy to find the words and sentences for each new review on such albums to sound fresh. Fortunately, two 'side-long' instrumental pieces (actually, two parts of one composition on the album), that feature "A Liturgy of Madness", surprisingly manage not to sound as similar as twin brothers. Most of different parts that form Mad Cucumber, Part I (with a wide variety of different themes on it), is built of the structures typical for Classic Prog-Metal without keyboards. In other words, most of the arrangements here weave around heavy themes, created by bandleader Alexis Romanov with his own incredibly virtuosic and always interesting guitar playing. Bass guitarist Alexander Beriozkin with his solos, crossing guitar solos all over the place, did stellar work in live arrangements, because first the band recorded the album wholly live in studio. Of course, all this diversity that you hear on the album is due to the performance of various guitars with the use of special pedals by Alexis and then everything was overdubbed and mixed in a studio. Although there are mostly iron colours and shades in the musical palette of Mad Cucumber-I, the composition is so extensively filled with different progressive ingredients that no repetitions or returns to previous themes are found here, so the Cucumber is driving really mad yet always and only forward, and its motto might be "Not a step back!" The second half of Cucumber's way is not as hard as the first. Acoustic guitar's roulades, sometimes along with angelic female voices, supported by meditative scores of the rhythm-section, back up further actions a lot more often than before. Incidentally, Cucumber's further actions still look "abnormal" - first of all because of too frequent changes of the directions it chooses to go at a time. But what's especially interesting is that despite all Cucumber's tangled and intricate moves, Mr. Mad always charges forward, whatever happens! Then such proverbial phrases as "The shortest way one likes is not always a direct way" and "The genius and madness live in the neighbourhood" have to be true, at least partly (are true partly, at least)?
Summary. While music on Sepsis' only "A Liturgy of Madness" album is all instrumental, distinctly original (which is a sign of most of the USSR/CIS Prog-performers, isn't it?), and also at least slightly more complex and intricate than the music of Rush circa their famous "2112", the fans of early-to-mid Rush will most likely be the first to love and appreciate it. I think so mainly because the equipment Sepsis used in Leningrad in the early 1990s and the equipment Rush used in Toronto in the mid 1970s were of equal quality, as well as the number of members in both these bands, whose progressively aggressive purposes at the time were also in some ways similar. Incidentally, I think that not only serious Prog-Metal-heads, but all those into Classic Art / Progressive Rock, too, and also anyone who misses on some especially original and exotic progressive fruit should be overly satisfied with "A Liturgy of Madness" by Sepsis.
VM. September 9, 2001
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