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FROMUZ: Sodom and Gomorrah

Majestic. Powerful. Grandiose. Melodic. Epic. These are just some of the words that describe what you are in store for when you first pop in the latest CD from Uzbekistan prog rock/fusion act FROMUZ, Sodom and Gomorrah. This new concept album, originally composed by Albert Khalmurzaev (keyboards, guitars, vocals, harmonica) as the soundtrack for a theatrical musical of the same name, reinterprets the Biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah and puts it into the modern world. Joining Khalmurzaev are the rest of the original FROMUZ line-up; Vitaly Popeloff (guitars), Vladimir Badirov (drums), and Andrey Mara-Novik (bass), along with Evgeniy Popelov (additional keyboards & vocals).

Mostly instrumental, Sodom and Gomorrah runs the gamut as far as musical styles and textures go. When this band wants to cook with some fierce progressive metal, as on "The Capture", they can sure get down and dirty with crushing Dream Theater inspired bombast, complete with searing lead guitar & beefy riffs from Vitaly Popeloff and loads of bubbling keyboards. However, more often than not, the band opt for soaring, melodic flights here that bridge the gap between prog, jazz-fusion, and a World/classical mix that really is a joy to listen to, as on "Prologue" and "City". FROMUZ even approaches Gentle Giant styled quirky, majestic prog on the engaging "Black Feast I". Fusion fans will love the acrobatic bass from Mara-Novik and frantic guitar explosions of "The Orgy", while "Folly of Mob" contains some catchy melodies that wouldn't have been out of place on an 80's hard rock album.

As good as the majority of Sodom and Gomorrah is, the back end of the CD loses a bit of steam. It's here where Khalmurzaev really takes control, as most of the second half of the album is dominated by eerie, keyboard drenched themes that coincide with the story the band is telling. Unfortunately, these tracks are not as engaging as the first half, but work well in depicting the bleak nature of the story. It's a shame that the uptempo, melodic nature of the earlier part of the album couldn't have been continued throughout, as it almost comes across as two separate albums patched together. Regardless, the musical talents of the band and Khalmurzaev's brilliant writing & arranging shine throughout in what is ultimately another winner from FROMUZ.

Track Listing
01. Intro
02. Prologue
03. City
04. Lot
05. The Capture
06. Black Feast I
07. The Orgy
08. Folly of Mob
09. The Blindness/Wife's Prayer
10. Black Wedding
11. Black Feast II
12. Procession of Dead Stars
13. The Escape
14. To the Flames

Added: October 17th 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Page @ 10T Records
Hits: 2801
Language: english

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FROMUZ: Sodom and Gomorrah
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-10-17 22:23:33
My Score:

Uzbekistan band Fromuz is back with a follow up to their 2011 release Quartus Artifactus. I first heard the band with their Seventh Story release so I was looking forward to digging into some new material as that album was one of the highlights of 2011. I have to say Sodom And Gomorrah is outstanding.

First a little about the concept. The original story is taken from the Book of Genesis where three angels appeared on earth to investigate the apparent evil in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. God wanted to destroy the cities but his friend Abraham pleaded and bargained with God not to. Further events took place, which I will not get to here, and the cities were in fact destroyed by burning sulphur. In essence, it is a story of paying for one's sins. Fromuz has taken the ancient story and applied it to modern times. Says the press release, "Reinterpreting the Biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah as a conceptual foundation, it tells the story of our modern world, ravaged by global addictions and harmful vices that can only be remedied through a change from within the very heart of the human condition." The music was originally written by band leader Albert Khalmurzaev for the musical production of the same name.

So, what about the music? In a word it is breathtaking. It is both complex and melodic with riveting instrumental passages and stunning arrangements. It is also the most accessible album put forth by the band but in no way has their imaginative songwriting been compromised. Gentle acoustic guitar begins "Intro", before majestic Gilmouresque leads and crashing rhythms take hold adding to the drama. It is a powerful intro, gaining intensity to an almost prog metal finale. With "Prologue", delicate acoustic guitar and keys set a darker tone. The heavier rhythms start abruptly with synths and guitar following in tow. The clean guitar solo that follows over a spacious drum pattern is very nice. In the exhilarating "Lot", voice samples and street noises create the beginning atmosphere before morphing into a combination of Dark Side Of The Moon era Floyd and Supertramp, with the harmonica reminding me "School" off of Crime Of The Century. The guitars and synths soar beautifully and the melody is pure gold. The main riff in "Folly Of Mob", the discs longest track, is one of the catchiest here. The way the music builds in intensity is just great to listen to and the use of background choir vocals is the icing on the cake. As always the case, some tracks are stronger than others but there is no 'filler' to be found.

Fromuz have created a beautiful instrumental piece of art that should have a resounding effect on all purveyors of great sounds. This is music of the highest caliber. Enough said.

FROMUZ: Sodom and Gomorrah
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-10-04 17:19:34
My Score:

One of the most interesting international Progressive Rock acts of recent years Uzbekistan's Fromuz return with their first studio effort since 2010. Sodom And Gomorrah is an album of music composed as part of a soundtrack for the theatrical play of the same name and created solely by the band's keyboarding, guitaring, harmonica player Albert Khalmurzaev, who isn't actually their usual musical director. I haven't seen the stage production in question, but judging on this selection of music, I'd guess it is a modern take on the biblical tale, with the likes of emergency service sirens included on "The Capture" to accentuate what is an almost completely instrumental effort.

This album was actually recorded way back in 2008, something which explains two things. Firstly the appearance here of the classic, original line-up of Fromuz, comprising Khalmurzaev, Vitaly Popeloff on guitars, Evgeniy Popelov on keys, Andrew Mara-Novik on bass and Vladimir Badirov on drums and secondly that, even with a revolving cast list since, S&G feels in many ways like a step back from the wonderful Seventh Story album.

Through the very nature of why this music was created in the first place, rather than long sprawling Prog epics, most of the tracks flit around the three to four minute mark, forcing them to try to both make an instant impression and also to fit with the visuals not available to view with this release. In places it works spectacularly, with the unnerving heavy breathing and melodious burst of "Folly Of Mob" stinging effectively, the surging Pink Floyd/Gilmour rip off of "Lot" lulling wonderfully and the brooding "Black Wedding" and "Black Feast II" adding a hefty weight of atmosphere. Add to that the captivating "Procession Of Dead Stars" where a number of clips of the likes of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and The Sex Pistols are woven through nightmarish sounds and samples and there certainly is enough to keep you thoroughly riveted in between less hard hitting fare. "The Capture" being a cheesy 70s cop show theme, "City" bleeping and blooping as an obvious piece of link music, while "The Orgy", while fitting its title well is merely a piece of standard Prog Metal foot to the floor.

Sodom And Gomorrah is a release this band's existing fans will get a lot from, while not necessarily being blown away. Potential new Fromuz-ers would be better directed towards either Seventh Story or Audio Diplomacy to discover the band at their full powers before venturing on to this still worthy effort.

FROMUZ: Sodom and Gomorrah
Posted by Mark Johnson, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-09-01 19:41:00
My Score:

Not much I can add to Peter's complete and incisive review. I have been a fan of FROMUZ since I first received 2010's Seventh Story for review. Sodom and Gomorrah takes their talent up another notch up to stellar quality. FROMUZ is one of the best instrumental prog bands on the planet, and this classic/symphonic production is a wonderful addition to the growing catalog. The dynamic presentation of this dark and formidable piece of music about one of history's greatest tragedies is well developed, orchestrated and produced.

The choirs at the zenith moments will have you fully engaged in the experience. The keyboard work is some of the best of the year…so far. The guitar and bass work has always been a trademark of this band's attention to detail, and that continues with Sodom and Gomorrah. They add harmonica, soft deep keyboards and slow Gilmouresque guitar soloing on "Lot" that will have your mind recalling Wish You Were Here.

The guitars on "Folly of Mob" took me right back to some classic Chameleons UK sounds which is always a good thing for me.

The interesting way they use sound effects and the thematic progression of the story to surround the listener within the experience allows the band to deliver the story with little use of lyrics or vocals.

The closer, "To the Flames", will have you on the edge of your seat with emotional engagement. The sound effects capture the power of what it may have sounded like back on that dark day before our time.

All in all, not the tale before bedtime, but definitely something interesting to hear interpreted and experienced…through headphones…out of true danger.

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