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(48 min, Muse-Wrapped)
TRACK LIST: 1. Personal Antichrist 5:18 2. Everlasting 5:31 3. Without You 5:12 4. Desperately Sad 5:52 5. Reason to Believe 4:24 6. Lucky Day 5:46 7. Take a Deep Breath 5:06 8. Coma White 2:04 9. Willing to Wait 3:10 10. Pictures 5:25 LINEUP: Cerik Eroglu - lead vocals; drums; guitars, bass; keyboards Ebru Eroglu - bass; programming Eyup Hamis - Ney; Kawala Cenk E - guitars; keyboards; vocals Kip Winger - guitars, bass; vocals With: Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson) - drums (3) Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs) - drums (4) Mine Kosan - Turkish singing (5)
Prolusion. "Grounded" is the debut release by XCARNATION from Turkey. The project's founder and principal songwriter, Cerik Eroglu, has two solos albums to his credit and has also collaborated with Robert Fripp, Tony Levin, Trey Gunn and Pat Mastelotto. As you can see above, "Grounded" also features the performance of some famous musicians, and one of them, Kip Winger (Alice Cooper, solo), has rather hugely contributed to the album, having penned one of the songs and co-arranged the others.
Analysis. Overall, this music fully corresponds to my concept of contemporary Mainstream Prog, although it doesn't remind me of any of the idiom's brightest representatives, beginning with those working under contract with major labels, e.g. Porcupine Tree, Radiohead, Tool, Dream Theater, and doesn't have a sense of the so-called Alternative (thankfully!). While all ten of the tracks are song-based, most of them are notable for their original approach, which is directly linked with the musicians' native folk music and their brave treatment of the energy of Metal. Nevertheless, they're not completely free of influences, even though they aren't striking. Well, the light symphonic ballad Without You, and also Coma White, which is nothing else but Electronic Rock with vocals, are probably the most original, but they aren't very interesting, compositionally. The signs of Alice Cooper circa "Raise Your Fist & Yell" and early Kip Winger are stamped in the overall sound of Personal Antichrist and Take a Deep Breath, the album's opener featuring an episode with tons of glasses crashing down, which immediately brings to mind the intro to "Alice Cooper Goes to Hell". To suit this dark, anxious and hypnotic atmosphere, with meaty, crushing guitar riffs being at the fore nearly everywhere, Cerik reveals the 'rockiest' timbres of his elastic voice. (By the way, it seems his English is perfect.) That said, I can't resist an explicit, elaborated heavy sound, so these two quickly became my favorite numbers, although I understand that they are somewhat less original than those six, with which Xcarnation have really grounded their own style, namely: Everlasting, Desperately Sad, Reason to Believe, Lucky Day, Willing to Wait and Pictures. Each is a tasteful, fairly potent cocktail possessing a strong magnetic power, although the stuff is not particularly complicated at any given time. The music is rather dark and disturbing, combining tendencies typical for modern electronically symphonic Pop Art (think Genesis's "Invisible Touch") with Turkish folk music and either distinct or latent (as on Reason to Believe and Lucky Day) Cathedral Metal. On each of the songs can be found the solos of Turkish flute, Ney, Lucky Day and Willing to Wait being much richer in such than the others and also having those of Kawala, which is a sort of violin. Nevertheless, the flavors of Turkish music were in most cases delivered by the so-called string ensemble, so there is a light certain classical sense in addition.
Conclusion. Xcarnation's "Grounded" is a high quality modern Pop Art, enriched with elements of oriental and progressive music and the energy of Heavy Metal, and is a satisfying listen on many levels. If you like the idea running all through the review you might want to check the CD out, though I believe it will get a massive success in any event. Personally I'd only want that Turkish native instruments would be more widely used in the further efforts of the project.
VM: December 3, 2005
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