Dancing With Death
Having discovered this band’s music through their live show, I was eager to listen to the album. Some bands sound great live, but are just awful on disc, and vice versa. But this album really captures the live experience of the band.
They’re a tight unit that work well together. A lot of thought went into this band and a lot of hard work. The result is quite impressive. Denis, the drummer, told me he’s just an ordinary drummer. Not so. Great chops, doing a lot of things, not just sticking to keeping a beat. He works very well with the bass, both instruments providing a rhythm section that comes close to overdoing it, but without overstepping the boundary.
The work between the keys and the guitar is just amazing. Almost as if it were one thought process running both instruments. They complement each other beautifully. The beginning of track 3, “Stratosphere”, has them playing a great melody between them. But throughout the album, these two shine brightly as a tight unit.
Vocally, it’s nice to hear someone who can sing something loud without screaming. A great voice, but with a slight, usually barely noticeable, accent. I’m not sure I’d like him to get rid of it, though, as it does add a touch of exoticness to the music.
“Sleepwalker” has a particularly interesting moment where the keys are playing in an unrelated fashion to the guitar, then they get in synch and a voice adds itself to the mix. Very interesting. Great ending with the cowbell, pause, then a symphonic finale.
The weird “The Brain Dance” which opens the album, builds an expectation to something bizarre to come. Instead, it launches through some great, original-sounding music. Even the harder, almost metal, parts of the album keep a strong melody throughout.
As a debut album, this is as good as it gets. Why they haven’t been picked up by a major label yet, I have no idea. Certainly their next effort will be. Mark my words, their third album is going to hit like a hammer.
Silent Exile : Live
As I mentioned in my review of Under the Sun, there were three bands playing that evening. The second band was called Silent Exile. I saw them perform their soundcheck and knew I had to talk to these guys.
I was first introduced to bass player and PR guy, Sylvain Gagnon. Very approachable fellow. I spoke to each member of the band to find out a little more about them. Four years ago they decided to perform their own material in the form of music that they would enjoy. So their first album (more on that next week), was four years in the making.
They’re from the Montreal region, but their album is already known around the world.
I had dinner with guitarist Fabrice Blanchet and drummer Denis Ainsley. A very interesting, yet different pair. Denis is the less serious of the two, always finding something to poke fun at. He explained his technique of playing live with a metronome, without changing its speed, even when the time signatures changed within the song. He made it seem so simple… He carefully took the time to explain how he was just a regular drummer. (I saw him live after: I beg to differ).
When these guys talk about their music, though, their heart is behind every word. But then again, they know they have a good product: it only needs to be known more.
After the first band finished, it was finally time for them to do their own thing. Now it’s never obvious to discover a band’s music from their live show. I remember a time (a long, long time ago) when I saw Duran Duran as an opening act for Bowie. I didn’t like Duran when I walked in. Now I own all their albums. But I’ve also seen shows where the opposite was equally true.
As far as being tight, they’re tight. But that’s not what you think about when you see them play. They obviously enjoy being there, but you can also sense a concern about putting on a good show.
Although lead vocalist Chriss J.Y.’s voice comes at you without a flaw, he doesn’t overshadow anyone. This is a well-formed unit which respects every member.
The one visual demarcation is keyboardist Cedric Rioux. He appears a lot younger than the rest of the band and does not look like he belongs there. Until he plays. Then he really rocks! He plays as if he’d been born on a stage.
As for the music? It sounds great! Generally, it’s Prog rock, but there is so much more to it than that that it almost seems a shame to put a label on it. I invite you to have a look and listen to their music. I’m not the only one who liked the show; Under the Sun, the band who were headlining, wanted to take them along for a few more shows.
Next week, we’ll review their debut album: Dancing with Death.