Eddie Lascu 5-November-2008 Building an Empire

Demians is a new project of French multi-instrumentalist Nicolas Chapel. If you read this after you listened to the album, it is going to come as a shock because the sound is so complex and all the instruments so well played, it is hard to believe it is the work of a single musician. Both the guitar and the keyboard arrangements are quite remarkable, but listen to the drums on "Sapphire" and tell me that isn’t Virgil Donati ripping the skins apart. In addition of being such an accomplished instrumentalist, Chapel is the owner of a voice that is in perfect harmony with the music, singing the lyrics in an impeccable English.

The juxtaposition of the multiple musical styles will bounce you between genres, as if you were listening to Nickelback, Dream Theatre and Pineapple Thief, all at the same time. While the music is deeply anchored in what some of us call Progressive Metal, there are ample and impetuous doses of Alternative Rock that add pigment to the sound .

"The Perfect Symmetry" kicks things off and this is, without any ounce of doubt, the best piece of the album. The power of the song floors me every time I play it, despite including a very nice and melow string section that decorates the background. In fact the alternation of powerful outbursts of sonic walls with suave, sensitive harmonies can be viewed as the general characteristic of the album. This is best exemplified on the first as well as the last track, "Sand". Other highlights of the album include "Sapphire", "Unspoken" (another favourite of mine, given the mysterious beginning), "Empire" and "Temple", although we can talk about a consistent uniformity among all songs, none of them being exceptionally better than the rest.

Place this at the confluence of Progressive Rock, Power Metal and Alternative Rock. There are other analogies that can be made. I can hear Porcupine Tree sonorities as well as something that sounds like the Apocalyptica cellos. Influences and similarities aside, "Building An Empire" is a tremendous debut from an artist with a huge potential. Highly recommended for everyone trying to guess the direction in which music is going in the Twenty First century. I am going to end by quoting Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) who’s calling it "one of the most assured and accomplished debut albums" of our times. What else can I add?

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