French Canadian artists Direction present a treat with their new disc, Est. With unabashed references to their influences, Rush, Yes, Genesis and Styx, they do well to capture the 70's retro prog sound that this power trio can offer. Instrumentally, this CD is very interesting with regard to the bands ability to craft a tune. However, things fall apart when the vocals appear. As if an afterthought, the vocals are presented in a mediocre style that hinders the tunes potential. To exacerbate obscuring the music, the vocals are in French. Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the French, some of my favorite artists sing in their native tongue. For some reason that I can't explain, on this CD it serves as a negative catalyst. Vocals aside, here are some musical highlights:
"Memoire Privée" does an excellent job of channeling the guitar styles of Steve Hackett as does the track "Touriste Urbain" with its homage to Alex Lifeson. The best track has to be the Triumph-sounding "Demiere Issue" with fantastic acoustic arpeggio guitar and a powerful musical interlude in the middle.
Given the challenges the vocals present, Direction have great potential. However, it looks as if the band is a hobby of sorts and reflects of that in their sound and direction.
1. Memoire Privée
2. La Fuite
4. Touriste Urbain
7. Soldat (Finale)
8. Dernière Issue
2 ½ Stars