My first encounter with progressive rock band Phideaux, has turned out very pleasant. The band play a kind of old fashioned progressive rock without sounding, eh, old fashioned. Well, that came out a bit confusing, so let me try to explain.
Amongst progressive (or art) rock aficionados every release is entitled to hold at least one epic. Snowtorch has two. Check. And lengthy songs (we are talking 16 – 19 minutes here), should contain numerous twists and turns, have some moody piano pieces, and other authentic instruments like Mellotron or Hammond as well. Check.
If possible, a variation in lead vocalists is welcomed, and some harmony interplay is met with great applause. Check again. Of course there are solo parts (divided between keyboards and guitar), as well as many instrumental parts. Check. The pinnacle is a concept album. Mhm, not sure. Let´s count this as a maybe. The 2 epics are called Snowtorch Part One and Part Two, but there is a short song dividing them, and a mystery track is closing the album.
So why are they not sounding old fashioned? Well actually they are. But they are just so good and convincing at it, it never feels dated at all. This album is a joy to listen to and the band have certainly raised my interest for their previous work. If they are also an unknown force to you, and you like the prog side of things (references would be bands like Pink Floyd, Cairo, or Gentle Giant, with a dash of Spock´s Beard and Yes), this bunch should make it to your buy list!
2 thoughts on “Phideaux, Snowtorch, 2011”
I agree 100% with your “oldfashioned but then, not at all”-describtion. Your checklist was hilarious. Gloomy, pretentious lyrics could have been another “check”… actually, this song kind of sums up prog music very well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cGH4sZIpr0 :-). And you might add: clever and iconic use of classical instruments like cello, violin, flute, and then an effing saxophone!
Among the reference bands, however, I think you are missing one, very important band: Jethro Tull. Go listening to Thick as a Brick and A Passion Play, and you’ll find passages in Snowtorch that are, if not a complete ripoff, then definitely a tribute! A lot of Genesis, too, I think.
A friend of mine made me listen to Number Seven and Doomsday Afternoon. At first I wasn’t very impressed – I could only hear the patchwork of numerous borrowed progstyles and got a bit irritated; they definitely knew their shit but I thought it lacked integrity. Then I heard Snowtorch, and I was completely convinced. I gave the other albums a second chance, and I really like them now. Still, Snowtorch rules – it has everything, and only one flaw: The keyboard solo in Snowtorch part 1 at 15.36 is waaaaay too short! But then, I forgive them when I hear what follows…
Thanks for your excellent comment Elisabeth. Will check all that later.
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