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Shadyon - 'Mind Control' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/32/ed/f4/1078_shadyonmindcontrol_1299627580.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 08, 2011    
 
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A very impressive release.


I would like you to contemplate the next sentence for a few seconds before you proceed with reading the rest of this review. Shadyon is a progressive metal band from France. Now, if I had said they were from Norway, for example, I would not have expected you to bat an eyelid. But, France? Well, that's quite a revelation, and for this – the band's second release – to be such a solid and satisfying album is almost a double surprise!

Seriously, although France is really not synonymous with producing many metal bands: and certainly not progressive metal bands, those that they have are almost without exception remarkably talented, and that has to be the conclusion drawn in relation to Shadyon. A quintet, originally formed in 2002 by guitarists Maël Saout and Emmanuel Creis (also the vocalist), the rest of the talented players comprise Stephane Huon on bass, François Le Cornec on drums, and Jorris Guilbaud on keyboards. Their debut, self-titled release came in 2006, but escaped my attention completely. If it's even half as good as this (overdue) follow-up, it will be worth seeking out.

As with most prog metal albums, time is needed to savour the endeavour and technicality of the performances, but in some ways 'Mind Control' is, I feel, slightly easier to digest than many because it has an obviously higher quotient of melody across the piece and includes one song ('Guardian Angels') that is neither metal, nor progressive: but is instead rather a delightful slice of mid-tempo acoustic melodic rock. The slightly curious vocals of Emmanuel Creis are perfectly framed by this number. He has a rather unique higher register voice: think, perhaps of Geddy Lee crossed with Oliver Phipps (Everon). In fact, the vocals are perfect for the band's music right across this album: and in my listening notes I fully acknowledge these as contributing significantly to the phenomenal, expansive and emotional songs oozing with a wonderfully warm sonic quality.

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The album commences with a brief moody, symphonic intro ('Calm Before The Storm') which segues very nicely into 'New Dimension' – a lovely free-flowing song that is not cluttered by unnecessary time changes or other irrelevant technicality. 'Last Escape' introduces a greater intensity – and superb guitar interplay and is a lyrically fascinating song that deals with the moments before death. 'Forgotten Nightmare' includes some interesting time/key changes within a song bursting with curious, yet infectious melodies. The title track (at just over nine minutes the album's longest) continues to feature keyboards well to the fore, but there are in addition some quite unusual keyboard fills to be heard! It is one of the more technical songs, and includes a major structural change after about five minutes. 'Into The Fire' is initially in frenetic counterpoint to the aforementioned 'Guardian Angels' that precedes it. I especially like the use of the short silent breaks in this song, and the whole thing is a prog metal triumph and my personal favourite track. 'Strange Visions' is another of the more technical numbers, and includes a short spoken section while 'Sun And Stars' is one of those 'kitchen sink' songs where everything except the dog is thrown in! Wow!! 'Gates Of Dawn' brings 'Mind Control' to a terrific close. It is an amazing, melodious song that reaches stratospheric heights and every time I hear it, I just want to listen to the entire album all over again: immediately!

This really is a very impressive release, and qualifies as one of the hidden gems of 2010. Please take the time to seek it out.

Paul Jerome Smith

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