Fans of early Marillion, Arena, Pendragon, IQ, and Pink Floyd, will surely dig the sounds on One In Every Crowd, the debut from France's Eye To Eye. Picking their home on Musea was ultimately a good choice, as the French record label is known for releasing quality prog rock music that covers many sub-genres, such as fusion, avant-garde, classic & neo-prog. Eye To Eye pretty much fall into the latter, with plenty of references to 70's styled prog as well as some metal crunch from time to time.
The first thing you will notice is the length of some of the songs, as two exceed 16-minutes, a few over the 8-minute mark, plus a few shorter pieces. Writing epic length tunes has become somewhat of a prerequisite in modern day progressive rock, and Eye To Eye do just fine in that department. "Love and Pain" is the first huge epic that you will come to on the CD, and it's a good one, with many peaks and valleys, bringing the listener along for the long exciting ride. Featuring plenty of vintage keyboard sounds from Philippe Benabes, the piece is also driven by the passionate vocals (in English) of Benoit Derat, who also contributes some rhythm guitar alongside the stellar lead work from Amirouche Ali Benali. While there are long passages of moody & atmospheric prog rock on this piece, the band also kicks it up a notch a few times for plenty of bombast and metallic crunch. "Half of Me" is another piece that sees the more aggressive side to the band, a real symphonic powerhouse of a number, but the vocals of Derat sound a little forced when he's trying to sing in a prog-metal style. The brief instrumental "Waiting For..." features some gorgeous piano from Benabes and a ripping Gilmour/Rothery influenced guitar solo from Ali Benali. This segues into the Arena sounding "You", a real atmospheric and moody rocker, complete with Mellotron choirs, searing guitar work, and emotional vocals.
On "Private Fears", the band conjures up some dark imagery, again reminding of IQ or Arena, with plenty of haunting keyboard textures, slowly building and building the drama to a bombastic finale littered with blistering guitar work and emotional vocals. The closing near 17-minute "One Day..." is a monstrous piece that once again shows how good this band is at putting togther lengthy songs that flow well from start to finish. Heavier than some of the other pieces, this one contains plenty of crunchy guitar riffs, guest violin from Elise Bruckert, and rock solid rhythms from bassist Cecile Carretero & drummer Didier Pegues. Benabes drops in plenty of majestic piano, raging Hammond, and ominous Mellotron on this one, just adding to the dark mood of the piece, and Derat's vocals are delivered with plenty of passion and power.
One In Every Crowd is a solid debut from a prog rock band that certainly deserves your attention. Filled with many of the elements that lovers of modern prog crave, this is a CD that is sure to jump start a promising career for this French band.
1 - Half of me (8'05)
2 - Dark flower perfume (1'15)
3 - Love and pain (16'09)
4 - Waiting for... (2'08)
5 - You (5'33)
6 - Private fears (8'08)
7 - Back on planet earth (5'51)
8 - Just before (2'08)
9 - One day... (16'52)