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Lord Of Mushrooms: Seven Deadly Songs

It's like there are two separate albums in one CD. The first seven tracks on 7 Deadly Songs are a concept piece, with one track for each of the biblical seven deadly sins; while the last three tracks are different in concept, and in style. And there's also a big dichotomy among the 7 deadly songs - with the first 5 being good, while the last two are excellent pieces that could justify the purchase of this CD on their own.

France's oddly-named Lord Of Mushrooms produced a more art-rock oriented CD in 2002, and this 2005 release sees them stepping confidently into the realm of progressive metal. Their 7-deadly-sins idea isn't new - in the same year this record was released, Manticora produced Eight Deadly Sins and Magenta released Seven - and both are based on the same theme.

The Lord Of Mushrooms brand of music is light for the prog-metal genre - but although there are elements of heavy neo or hard-edged AOR, there's no mistake that it's metal. There's plenty of double-bass, heavy riffs, and a vocal style that leaves no doubt about the band's metallic pretentions. And it is those vocals that define this record. They're sung in a mid-range with no falsetto wailing - with a good tone and strong pitch control. More range and flexibility would be welcome, though, and for most of this record it seems that the singing just never stops. It is clearly a vocals-oriented piece, with and in the first half hour there are far too few instrumental sections to give listeners a moment to catch their breath.

There's good complexity to the music on 7 Deadly Songs, good layering, and a multitude of well-managed tempo shifts building interesting structures. Yet in parts - specifically the first four tracks - it manages to fall into the trap of sounding 'samey'. That is partly a function of production, partly the songwriting, and largely because of those good but never-ending vocals. And that in turn leads to the observation that there isn't much in the style of each song that speaks to the deadly sin it describes. You might expect more anger in "Anger", more bombast in "pride", and more yearning in "Lust".

Track 5 "Sloth" is the album's mandatory power ballad, and here we start to see the first real departure from the rather pedestrian first half. "Gluttony" is the standout among the 7-sin songs - and is a showcase for a standard of musicianship that has been hidden until now. It is also the most progressive among the 7-songs, with Hammond & synth sounds lending some 1970s progressive tones, and at last, singer Julien Vallespi gives the instrumentals a chance to shine through - and with the introduction of interesting spoken bits and vocal effects, less is clearly more and you'll probably have a better appreciation for his singing. There's a wonderful interaction among instrumentalists on this piece. Pity about the last 5 seconds, though. Similarly, "Lust" shows tremendous range and is an excellent piece of music with tremendous diversity in its 9-or-so minutes.

Then we cross a bridge and move into a 3-song suite that is really a 12-minute mini-epic which is more progressive, less metallic, and more adventurous than anything that happened in the first 46 minutes. It's jazzy in parts, symphonic in places, there are power-ballad moments, there are elements of hard-rock, and the melodies are strong. Even the vocals are wonderfully applied here and this piece shows the kind of vocal range that was missing from the first half of the CD - There are soft-spoken parts, there are ballsy, emotional cries, and it's soothing in parts. There are good instrumental solos yet most of it is a tightly constructed, very pleasing body of music.

Strange, these differentials across the CD. If you program your CD player to run just the last 5 tracks, you'll be rewarded with half an hour of some of the best progressive metal you'll hear all year. The first 5 tracks rate 3 - or maybe 4 stars. Make no mistake - they're good, but they just aren't special. But the last 5 tracks would easily justify a 4.5 star review.

Track Listing:
01. Pride
02. Avarice
03. Envy
04. Anger
05. Sloth
06. Gluttony
07. Lust
08. Legend: The Bewitching Air
09. Legend: The Tempest
10. Legend: Paylee Conol

Added: March 8th 2006
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: Lord Of Mushrooms's Web Site
Hits: 2619
Language: english

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