Tuesday, 2 June 2009

[Review] Demians - Building an Empire

Right. Hello again. I'm going to be doing a third review, seeing as Dan has still yet to get around to his. I believe he wanted to review this album at some point... though that won't be happening now. Heh.

He'll probably get me back later by stealing a Pineapple Thief album. Oh well.

Anywho, on with the Review.

1. The Perfect Symmetry (9:19)
2. Shine (3:17)
3. Sapphire (7:27)
4. Naive (4:54)
5. Unspoken (5:59)
6. Temple (3:05)
7. Empire (6:32)
8. Sand (16:09)

Bonus Track - Earth (8:48)

So, Demians. It's a solo project by Nicolas Chapel, the debut Building an Empire having been released just over a year ago, though I only came across it recently.

I'm glad I did.

The album opens with the beautifully textured track The Perfect Symmetry. After an interesting opening, Chapel's great vocals enter. His voice is quite something, I think. There's also some nice strings interwoven with the guitar, and though it begins relatively quiet it soon builds for some heavier guitar and thumping drumming towards the end. Then we have Shine, a song of two parts. It opens with some lovely twiddly acoustic guitar and more of those fabulous vocals, then the drumming begins to build until pretty much exactly halfway through comes my favourite guitar riff on the album, growling and stuttery. Short but amazing track there.

Sapphire has a building opening and contains more heavy guitar in the opening section. Chapel's quiet, almost whispering vocals work well in the verse, before a powerful chorus breaks through the quiet. The vocals only improve into the second section, which also has some yummy drumming. Naive starts with more twiddly acoustic and has a basic but effective riff at the beginning. The vocals are much of the same as seen throughout the album so far (very good), and the drumming is pretty nice too. The next track, Unspoken, lacks any of the heavier riffs, though this is a welcome break midway through the album. The drumming is gentle but absolute genius, and the whispering vocals (really whispering this time) gradually build along with some nice backing strings.

, the shortest track and obvious choice for a single, has fingerpicking acoustic, some nice bass guitar and a building ending, though the vocals seem to have lost some of the feeling that was present in the other songs. Still a good track, though. Empire is basically Temple Part II, as it contains some recurring lyrics and follows straight on from the preceding track. The sounds at the beginning are unusual but nonetheless interesting. The drumming progresses throughout, though to me it is one of the weaker tracks.

Then comes the epic end track Sand, clocking in at over 16 mins. It contains all of the great things from the songs before it, both gentle and pounding drumming, fabulous acoustic guitar, strings, heavy riffs and outstanding vocals including some growl. A great building track and probably the best on the album.

Earth is only available on the CD, and is a good bonus. It contains lyrics and elements from most of the songs on the album, tying the whole thing together rather nicely in a nine-minute upbeat bundle. It has some good guitar and bass again, though the lyrics don't entirely fit in all places and sound somewhat contrived. Despite this, it's worth getting the CD for rather than just the download.

As a whole, the album contains a fair bit of variation, especially towards the end, and has a great deal of good elements. And the vocals... best I've heard in a long while. Demians is definitely on my watch list now, and I highly recommend you prog fans go listen to this wonderful debut.

There's a reason it's top of my favourite albums at the moment:


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