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Cast: Vigesimus

Even though they have been pretty much raved about on this very website, I must admit that Vigesimus is my first encounter with Cast and from memory, any Mexican progressive rock whatsoever. Quite incredibly this is the band’s 20th studio release, with recent albums finding a steady line-up growing into what I’ve discovered here - a consummate neo/symphonic prog album that is grand in intentions and quite stunning in execution.

From what I’ve read about the band - and detail really is quite scant - they have evolved across the years through many progressive variations, including baroque, fusion and much in between. Many of those styles are hinted at as you journey through this near 80 minute experience, although the four main aspects holding it all together are much more simple than that. Firstly is band leader and founder member from 1978 Luis Alfonso Vidales, whose keyboard contributions really are quite outstanding. Capable of leading from the front and building foundations from the ground up, his combination with guitarist Claudio Cordero is the second cornerstone of Cast, with the third being the stunning, unusual but thoroughly natural violin contributions from Roberto Izzo. Used to fill nooks and crannies that we’d usually have plugged by a second guitarist or yet more keys, the contrast and bond between violin and the other, more expected instruments, really is a huge boon. Not to ignore the mighty rhythm section that drives this whole album forward - Carlos Humaran (bass) and Jose Antonio Bringas (drums) are fantastic - the final pillar that constructs this tremendous album is the vocal pairing of Bobby Vidalas and Lupita Acuna, the former combining an attack that includes Rob Sowden (ex-Arena) and James Labrie like elements to an equally intricate neo-prog approach. Acuna on the other hand bring her grand swooping voice to proceedings in a way that’s never over the top or overly theatrical. She’s stunning in her own right and yet when bouncing off Vidalas’ authoritative approach the pair become even greater than the sum of their parts.

Choosing highlights is a real challenge across Vigesimus, purely because the quality never dips whether revelling in the full throttle instrumental interplay and incisive vocals of “Dredging To The Higher Plane”, soaking up “The Unknown Wise Advice”, where Vidalas is imperious behind the mic and Izzo’s violin really is given the room to impress. “Location And Destination” and “Crossing” on the other hand shine a light on the intelligent, and at times human-political lyrics that add yet another weapon to this band’s armoury. Add in the virtuosic instrumental battles that so often break out across this album and the only question you’re left with is, is there anything Cast can’t do?

Undoubtedly one of my own personal musical surprises of 2021, there’s no doubt that Vigesimus will be a strong contender come my end of year best of list. This is seriously impressive stuff and I can’t get enough of it. Looks like It’s time to start hunting for the back catalogue!


Track Listing
1. Ortni
2. Black Ashes and Black Boxes
3. The Unknown Wise Advice
4. Another Light
5. Manley
6. Location and Destination
7. Crossing
8. The March
9. Contacto:
- i. Primer Acto
- ii. Profundi
10. Dredging to the Higher Plane

Added: April 10th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Cast @ bandcamp
Hits: 409
Language: english

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