Another power trio band this time hailing from France who bring to the table a gathering of ideas and concepts to create a unique brand of Prog that borders on metal types like Tool and still has the subtlety to bring other forms of Prog to their music with some mellower passages combined with vocals that have a unique dynamic range to their sound. This band follows the similar German Prog band patterns and sings in English which to me was a blessing so I can make out what they are saying but if was in French that would have been ok too because it’s the second official language here in Canada and we get to learn it in school from grade 4 on to high school so I could have managed…. somewhat lol.
The album commences with, “Disintegrity” and interesting word to say the least and one I had to look at twice before I got it right. It slams down the proverbial hand on the table straight out the gates and slaps you in the face with a sharp snare snap(say that 3x fast!) and dives right in to the core of the song’s sound; angry and crisp like a southern BBQ cook off in Oklahoma! It drives and snarls as it twists and turns its way around and has a reminiscent sound of early Tool a la “Opiate” days but done in the LizZard way here. A ripping and searing solo is short and a quick burst to the kidneys as the song continues to slam its heavy Prog hands down as this song sets the mood for the record and has both your eyes wide open here! The distorted guitar here is tight and cleaned up giving us clear sailing ahead to hear it without having to adjust our EQ. The drummer is Katy Elwell and she has the helm here, no bones about it and as I always say, it’s awesome to see more women in Prog AND the drummer at that too! She works her magick around the kit like a predator and snares everything she hits with enough force to knock back a bear. Mathieu Ricou who leads the band in vocals and guitar has a distinct power to his voice where he can easily fluctuate the tones according to the song’s demands and commands his instrument with a ferocity that speaks volumes of Prog business. Bassist William Knox sets the scene for a massive attack of low end boom and destruction with four strings and has no mercy when wailing down the hammer. A powerhouse opening track for a power trio to deliver here. “The Orbiter” grooves in with a jive to the beat and disciplines itself to not stop the hard edge pace of another great Prog rocker. It serves up the Prog recipe with the tempo/timbre and start/stop changes quick but classy here and a guitar riff that at times had me thinking of heavier version of King Crimson’s “Three of a Perfect Pair” riff as Mathieu sang over it which like Adrian Belew (who LizZard is currently on tour with) was impressive with how he played that complex riff and sang it as well. This song also shows off Mathieu’s ability to sustain vocal notes for good lengths of time at the end. The drumming here is in tight formation like a swarm of wasps as they strike and sting the kit with a viciousness only to add injurious pain from the bass as it brings the bottom end with rage and determination.
“Out of Reach” the title track comes in third and follows the anti-recipe for most records where the title song is either first or last but here they chose slot number three. Hey they could have done what The Doors did and released their song “Waiting for the Sun” two albums after they titled an album that! So at least we get a taste for title tracks within the album here and what we hear is an AM radio sounding guitar riff with a chanting vocal in sweet refrain over it before the rest of the band helps it along with a smashing push of smooth hell sounds. This one gleans the blades of Neo-Metal-Prog with some smashing changes and helps the recipe along quite intently as the song juggernauts and is consistently tight yet again which is phenomenal strength in a band to have and this is exactly one of the elements I have discussed about power trio bands in previous blogs that you HAVE to be THAT tight a band to really make a trio work and LizZard does this with such discipline and virtue. Subtle but necessary changes within the song’s dynamics create a fast paced but not too fast nature where you can’t follow it allowing you to hear these changes happen but they’re whisked away before you know it and it becomes an after thought in your mind as you decided to play it again to listen for them. “Skyline” has an ethereal entrance and streams in like a morning fog over the beautiful southern French countryside as the dreamlike synthscapes bring us to awaken to another day and segue itself in to the strong bass line as we fall gracefully in to “Loose Ends” with the synths trailing to the background and the tenacity of the band takes hold of the song and fills out its width with a prominent vocal and full wall to wall band sound. It’s a slow burn here that gives the middle of the album effect a great stand point and LizZard’s quasi-ballad thematic approach. The clarity in this song sets a strong precedence for the band as the solo gives way to breaking clouds in half as its again a short sharp shock combined with some extra help with a phaser pedal to add flare to its already sound structure. The song pulls off some great examples of PROGness here by drawing back after the solo to release some tension quietly and have you wondering if the song stays this way or jumps back in to the fire in which it fueled. It chooses to end with a slow close out making you either win or lose in your gamble of guesswork. A ice crystalling finish off to the song as we hear it fade away to nothing, divine.
“Backslide” reaches out with a stomping drum intro as it steps heavily through the lands of Prog here with a chugging guitar riff that is further weighted down with the bass underneath it. A solid build up as the song begins to take shape and just over a minute later it blows up in to a funnel of fury sound and drives headlong with a very unique hollow snare drum sound here that you don’t often hear making it a wonderful addition to the creative forces behind the band. Step outside of the box and see what’s going on out there. A two and half minute instrumental that states simply that you don’t have to always be complex and difficult, this was straight forward and to the point. “Fakeworld” is as quiet as a bomb starting off and wastes no time to slap the air hard with its intro then retreats to allow the vocals enter with some dignity as the bass does the driving with the drums motoring along in this very Tool orientated heavy song. I may remark they sound a bit like Tool but only in the spirit of that style, in no way does LizZard sound like Tool at all, in fact they have distinguished a unique tone all their own and here is another fine example with Hendrix inspired guitar solos and tough edged rhythm sections as the vocals demand attention and then the song finally ends in a split second cut off leaving you to hold the bag. “Twisted Machine” plays out just like a self thinking machine that has a purpose, to deliver an onslaught of sound to your ears through your speakers. A spiralling twisting riff rock Prog power tune that bounces with electric waves and creates tidal waves of modulation and accented melodies. Chugging, riffing, atonal, brutal, kick you in the teeth and walk away here as if they just listened to Motorhead and got inspired to write something that intense and heavy but Prog-like then they return to the building up of intensity in the middle to release broad base of vocals and musical flow and the drums here really take centre stage as they literally pummel the air in your room as the song comes to a shut down like someone turned off the machine’s switches. In a word, Intense!
“Across the Line” graces us with a very quiet musical intro as the vocals take a more prominent lead here and some frayed guitar notes falling underneath for a few bars before the drums and bass take their places accordingly. This one is one of the softer tracks on the album and we can gather up our now demolished senses but then we speak too soon as the song takes off in to another direction halfway through to a heavier punch that we weren’t expecting giving the Prog recipe a run for its money as they pull off a great move here and unexpectedly shifted gears on us yet still keeping a ever so slightly minor subtlety to the song but still a classic pincer move on our ears. The longest song on the album and a brilliant display of musicianship by all three band members. The band shatters our expectations here and they finish off with a sublime closing that has us sitting stunned in our chairs. “Tear Down The Sky“, the last song on the album embarks on some great vocal play on harmonies and double tracking with added guitar notes for spice. The drums have an underwater feel to them here as they begin to rise from the depths to the song’s surface for air creating some wonderful imagery as the bass is dry and slinky as it moves along the song’s path like snake in the brush. The track keeps a mid-range feel to it throughout as it takes hold of the airwaves and brings us back to whence we came in to this record. The song fades out to a synthscape that takes us to the end of the album’s journey and disappears in to nothingness and exits in a classic Prog fashion of serenity.
I absolutely Love this band, they are fresh, original and have a definitive sound that is all theirs to claim in which they do so brilliantly. Power trio bands for some reason either pull off some of the best music or fall in to having to add musicians to complete their sound. LizZard does not require anymore people in their sound, they are just amazing as a trio. Their penchant for that BIG wall to wall sound and their Prog elements help them create a blend of metal, hard rock, Prog, with a little avant-garde thrown in for good measure and they mix that altogether and created this band. This album recorded in six weeks displays and tells you that they are focussed, driven to create and produce a full blown album of great music and hit the road to play to people around the world. They still have a ways to go to get in to the Halls of Prog but the Friars of Prog are smiling at them for their already immense efforts in the genre. Definitely a band for your Prog Collective and to have a listen to the many elements held within their sound because they really are a breath of fresh air. Enjoy.