Saturday, March 26, 2011

Review/Recommendation: Cast - Originallis (2008)

I review albums for the Progressive Ears website, from which I receive promotional copies. One day (sometime during 2008), I saw the list of available promos and was thinking about which ones I'd like to listen and review. One name that was there was Cast and their then latest album Originallis, released earlier that year. I only knew they are a progressive rock band from Mexico and I had previously only heard snippets of their songs. That was enough for me to decide to go ahead and get ahold of the album.
That was one of the unknowingly wisest "musical picks" I've made. This album is now one of my favourite albums ever (along with Discipline's Unfolded Like Staircase, Opeth's OrchidMorningrise and Blackwater Park and U Totem's s/t album).
Here's the review I wrote for the album in 2008, but reading it now, it doesn't do the album justice. My words fall short of my appreciation and love for this album.

I have heard of Cast before and got curious about them, but never heard more than snippets of their music. I read a few favourable reviews of their previous album, Com.Union but didn't pick it up. So, Originallis is my first proper listen to the music of Cast, this long-time active Mexican band.
And what and album it is!

A double album, this 2008 release is over 90 minutes long, filled with lovely symphonic rock moments, embracing keyboards, powerful lead guitar playing and delightful playing of other instruments such as saxophone, flute and clarinet.

The songs flow into each other naturally, connected and seem to not end. The music changes mood and pace from a relaxed opening song named after the title of the album to the highly energetic, fun and enthralling instrumental piece that is Pulsar. It is a fantastic piece, emotional and powerful, shifting from a slightly melancholic state to an optimistic and positive mood, always on the move, not giving the listener any rest, but not in an exhausting kind of way; simply it just goes on and on, evolving as it goes on, adding structures and changing instruments as it develops. The sax solo, the use of the female vocalizations, and the rest of this expanded lineup take this track one notch up than it would have been, showing the importance of knowing how to not only construct your song but also how to orchestrate it, "paint" it with ingredients that will take it further on.

There are wonderful melodic lines, filled with passion and which sound powerful thanks to the enhanced lineup and the female vocalization. The balance between the melodic and the complex and dynamic is at a good position, as the switching occurs seamlessly and the result can proudly stand in line with other current great lineups of progressive rock bands. The male vocals by Alejandro Tornero are delicate and soft, matching the music and melodies and do not overshadow the rich sound of the band and the full gamut of instruments played upon. The female vocals and vocalization adds another magical layer to the already thrilling basis and fit very well.

I have also to mention the wonderful artwork of the album, magnificent drawings that are a delight to look at while listening to the music.

As said above, this is a long album, but for some reason I could get into it quite quickly and surprisingly for an album of this length, already from the second listen. While the music can be complex at times, it is quite accessible and bears a charm hard for me to resist. You may want to use the natural division of the two cd's to have separate listens and make it easier to grasp. If you like current and 90's Italian symphonic prog bands you might recognize some similarities in the style.

The album mixes very well the wonderful symphonic-prog sound with lush keyboards alongside heavy, almost metal-like guitar solos. If you like symphonic-prog that travels between the soft and heavy the tender and powerful, this is a very worthwhile album to get. A fantastic album. 

Official website (in Spanish)
Prog Archives band page

CD1: 49:06
1. Originallis (4:16)
2. Pulsar (9:56)
3. Lagrimas De Hielo (9:59)
4. Fuego y Humo (7:55)
5. Vientos de Guerra (4:27)
6. Tierra Honor y Libertad (4:18)
7. Furia Traicion y Gloria (7:51)
8. Bonus (0:24)

CD2: 44:20
1. De Nuevo (0:08)
2. Renacer (9:23)
3. Llanto de Octubre (2:41)
4. Aqui y Ahora (4:58)
5. Al Final la Luz Que Llama (3:05)
6. Ecos del Pasado (3:21)
7. Todo Es Un Don (8:19)
9. Medley I (12:25)

Total Time: 93:26

- Flavio Miranda / bass
- Antonio Bringas / drums, percussion
- Guadalupe Acuna / vocals
- Alfonso Vidales / keyboard
- Alberto Vidales / vocals
- Claudio Cordero / guitars
- Pepe Torres / flute, saxophone, clarinet
- Jose Torres / guitars

CD 1, track 3: Lágrimas de Hielo

CD 1, track 4: Fuego y Humo

CD 1, track 7: Furia, Traicion y Gloria

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