Rating:
9.0
Phideaux - Doomsday Afternoon
17 June 2007


Act One
01. Micro Softdeathstar
02. The Doctrine Of Eternal Ice [Part One]
03. Candybrain
04. Crumble
05. The Doctrine Of Eternal Ice [Part Two]

Act Two
06. Thank You For The Evil
07. A Wasteland Of Memories
08. Crumble
09. Formaldehyde
10. Microdeath Softstar


I started waiting for "Doomsday Afternoon" since the moment the previous album "The Great Leap" was released. Why? First, that album made a great impression on me. Second, because Phideaux said they already had (some of) the new material written by then. Throughout the waiting and keeping an eye on the news of the recording and production process I was led to believe that "Doomsday Afternoon" would be something closer to justifying the first part of the title - that is heavier and darker than its predecessor. However, that was only a belief.

It turns out "Doomsday Afternoon" is a bit mellower Progressive Rock than "The Great Leap" and it is atmosphere-wise closer to describing the second part of the title - the afternoon. That is not its weakness, however, but strength. Had it been otherwise, i.e. as heavy or dark as I imagined, I think it wouldn't be as good as it is. Nor would it have fit the band as well as it does. This album is something that underlines and highlights the band's established sound to date.

"Doomsday Afternoon" is excellent in composition and orchestration. It is thorough and balanced throughout the length of the album. At times it's only piano accompanying the voice, at other times it's the band with the orchestra. The choice of instruments is very careful and fits into the sound. Often the play is so subtle, you'll have to strain yourself only to discover the instrument has been there all along. Not because you can't hear it. Actually, you can't - but not literally. Only later, on subsequent listening, will you go "A-ha! I can hear a cello there in the back!" If you think orchestration can only yield a symphonic album, you'll have to hear this one to change your mind - here orchestra is used to fill the gaps and create a lush and full sound.

Alongside naturally flowing melodies, an important component of the band's music is Phideaux's voice. It's not that it is impossible to imagine someone else singing. In fact, there are others who sing in the band: Ariel Farber, Molly Ruttan and Linda Ruttan-Moldawsky add female vocals, with some others backing from time to time. It's the warm, light and quite high singing style that draws attention, especially in combination with acoustic guitars. It simply fits exceptionally well with the music.

There is a notable difference in comparison with "The Great Leap." The previous album can be described as an album consisting of small stars, every song having a sharp edge, shining all by itself. This one is not like that. It is something that let me down a bit at first. When you listen to the album at first, there's no bright shine that you notice immediately; it takes a while to appreciate. It is like an opening blossom, slowly presenting its beauty to the world. Only then each song starts to separate itself and stand out on its own. Then you notice the cool instrumentals, superb passages, great keyboards on "The Doctrine of Eternal Ice," the beauty of "Formaldehyde" or "Microdeath Softstar" in its full splendour.

I'll say it right out - this album is solid. It's so solid that it's not even possible to breach it at first. Even a brick can be more easily penetrated. However, think of this album as of giant iceberg floating in warm waters - melting slowly, taking its time. After a while this album moves in, unpacks its bags and settles in your head to live. At least it's what happened to me. It's worth the effort to discover it. And as an endnote - good song titles, and what more - superb booklet paintings by Molly Ruttan.


Band profile: Phideaux
Album: Doomsday Afternoon


 



Written on 27.09.2007 by
Ivor
I shoot people.

Sometimes, I also write about it.
More reviews by Ivor ››



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Spyroid - 27.09.2007 at 22:32  
Great band - the only other band that I come to think of when I hear them is Ayreon, but it's still something entirely different.
By the way, Xavier is actually guest staring on the new Ayreon and his voice sounds great on the preview! I really look forward to hear it.
duyhung - 04.10.2007 at 02:19  
Great album. I love this one, a real masterpiece. My favs in this album are the 2 "Crumble" songs and "The Doctrine Of Eternal Ice".
Really looking forward to the performance of Mr. Phideaux in the upcoming Ayreon album
Fat & Sassy! - 19.01.2010 at 22:53  
Good review.

Great stuff classic prog rock stuff with classical influences. This album is flat-out BEAUTIFUL.

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