Released: 2011, Metalodic
In the summer I came across an album called HYPERBOREA, by a band called Vorpal Nomad, which is just fantastic. I reviewed it in September I noticed the album was released was on the up and coming Canadian label, Metalodic Records, which I knew had been around for a couple of years but I had not given the label the attention they deserved. Impressed by the quality of the Vorpal Nomad, I went to the Metalodic company web-site and basically bought their entire catalogue of eight albums by a roster of seven bands, at a hell of a good price I may add! So now, I’ve decided to review all those releases (minus the Vorpal Nomad of course) in a feature on Metalodic Records to support the label and it’s high-quality, international roster. The bands in the spotlight are Aclla, (Brazil), Caravellus (Brazil), Icewind (Canada), Instanzia (Canada), Kaktus Project (France) and two albums by Kerion (France). Please check out the reviews of these bands in this Metalodic Records feature.
The full name of this recording act is Sylvain Rouviere’s Kaktus Project. I don’t like when an artist attaches his own name to the name of a band with the possible rare exception of Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force. To me it seems somewhat egotistical. He could have used his own name Sylvain Rouviere as a solo artist, (like Joe Satriani or Joe Stump or Joe Bonamassa) to help establish his own identity as a guitar hero, or use the band name Kaktus Project, which is perfectly acceptable as well. But to do both just seems unwieldy and doesn’t roll off the tongue in the same way that Kelly Simonz’ Blind Faith or Iris Mavraki’s Neverland, it doesn't sound right. Besides, who is Sylvain? No offense to him but he is nobody, so far. I can understand if a guy like Paul Di’Anno uses his name in Paul Di’Annos Battlezone or David Coverdale in David Coverdale’s Whitesnake because most Metal fans already know who Paul Di’Anno and David Coverdale are, but so far I’d suggest that most Metal fans don’t know who Sylvain Rouviere is...yet. I feel many more people will come to know Sylvain, no matter what he calls himself because SUPERSTITION (MLC 006) is a fantastic debut album.
This French guitarist chose the word ‘project’ with good intention because as many guitar hero albums there are a multitude of guest stars and some surprisingly big names too, but we will name drop in a minute. SUPERSTITION is the debut album from this French shredder and he has presented a nice package, with lyrics, pictures and some good (albeit non-traditional, non-Metal) JP Fournier art gracing the cover. The production is good and Sylvain himself handles all the songwriting and lyrics. I don’t mind instrumental shred albums at all, in fact I love them but it is nice to have lyrics and a good sense of a song, as evidenced on this album. I wonder why he called the first song ‘Farewell’? I’m sure it would have fit nicely at the end of the album…There are 13 songs that run about 3.5-5 minutes each and the album includes a bonus track, a cover of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. It is very brave for someone to try to cover such a legendary song so closely linked to Queen and I’m not convinced that Rouviere does a great job. It’s not bad but it’s hard to pay justice to such an iconic song, but he plays it very close to the original, even down to the production and tone, which makes me wonder, why bother? He even sings lead vocals on the cover tune, and actually does quite a good job (which makes me wonder why he recruited so many guest singers for his album) because he has a decent voice. Either way it must be a fun song to tackle in the studio.
SUPERSTITION follows a conventional guitar hero album pattern of each song being sung by various quest stars and many guest musicians also make an appearance; I counted 25 people at least and that puts it way up in Avantasia or Therion territory for number of performers on a record! The songs are all certainly in the Metal camp, with a strong sense of 70’s and 80’s Metal, in terms of composition and style. Judging by his pictures and the choice of cover tune, Rouviere is a bit older and grew up on the classics of UK Rock Royalty including Deep Purple, UFO and Thin Lizzy which would account for some of the keyboard tones on the album. Sylvain can really play, he can shred and also does a fine job exploring the light and shade of the acoustic guitar.
Lastly, one of the highlights for a fan who may not naturally gravitate to a guitar hero album is the caliber of guest stars on the record. I almost did not bother to mention them because I feel that SUPERSTITION can easily stand on it’s own merits of the songs and guitar work. However, in the end to do justice to everyone and maybe get a few more people to take notice of the record, I’ll run down who is who and it is an admittedly impressive list. Mike Dimeo (Riot), Mats Leven (Rising Force, Therion), Oliver Hartman (At Vance), Henning Basse (Metalium) and Amanda Sommerville (Epica, Kamelot) all appear on the album. That is some heavy-duty vocal firepower! I have a natural inclination to these types of albums, (I really enjoyed the Tommy Vitaly record earlier this year) so it’s not a shock to see my high rating for SUPERSTITION.