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Cast: Al-bandaluz

Those progressive icons from Mexico, Cast, are back yet again with another platter of symphonic music, this time around around with a double CD package and a couple of new members. Still with the band are virtuoso keyboard player Luis Alfonso Vidales and singer Francisco Hernandez (who was previously the bands guitarist) , and they are joined by new members Kiko King on drums, Carlos Humaran on guitars, Flavio Jimenéz on bass, and Pepe Torres on flute, sax, & clarinet. The formula is basically the same, although Humaran's guitar style is much more in the prog-metal camp, hence the music here tends to be a bit more agresssive than one would normally expect from Cast. Still, the end result is still epic, symphonic prog music with tons of lush keyboards.

The one problem with most of the Cast discography is the average production. This never really bothered me much, as the playing is usually pretty spectacular and more than makes up for the slightly muddy sound. The same problem is apparent here as well, especially on the Spanish vocals from Hernandez, who at times is barely audible under the waves of guitars and keyboards. However, I think most people listen to this band for the multitude of symphonic passages and soaring melody lines, and there are plenty here to go around. Torres adds some neat sax lines to the epic, three-part "Encrucijada", which also allows Vidales to demonstrate his deft touch on the piano and synthesizer. Fans of Queen will love the majestic, heavy riffs of "Lamento del Gato", and the E.L.P. inspired keyboard freakouts on "Viajero Inmovil" are just awe-inspiring to say the least. Disc 2 contains a real beauty in the Genesis sounding epic "El Puente", which is perhaps one of the highlights of this set, and the prog-metal stomp of "Ansia, Angustia, Desesperacion."

Perhaps the band could have condensed this into a single CD, as both discs are barely 45 minutes long, but this is still a keeper either way. For pure symphonic prog music, you can't go wrong here.

Added: August 17th 2003
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Cast Official Website
Hits: 4439
Language: english

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