Achard's Morbid Feeling, Cyril - ...In Inconstancia Constans

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Lion Music
Catalog Number: LMC2105 2
Format: CD
Total Time: 51:23:00

If you were to imagine Boz Scaggs (circa Silk Degrees) fronting a hard rock band with a metal guitarist, then what you would be imagining really would Cyril Achard's Morbid Feeling. Although, "morbid" isn't a word that comes to mind when listening to In Inconstancia Constans. Rather, I would say jazzy blues-metal with a heavy dose of AOR. Sometimes, I thought of The Flower Kings, too, as there is a bit of an accent to vocalist Patrick Peek's voice. As others have noted as well, there are hints of Dream Theater, and to my ears, what might be described as the Magna Carta sound. Though the rapid-fire keyboard and guitar work in "Fields Of Graves" made me think of Symphony X. So yes, it's a hodgepodge of sounds and influences, or what could be influences. Smoking guitar work from Achard, but I also like the breezy, jazzy feel of this - but then I really like Scaggs' Silk Degrees, perhaps his best known release (for those not that familiar with Scaggs, think of his monster US hits "Lido Shuffle" and "Lowdown"). He and Steely Dan helped define that 70s jazz-pop sound. This updates it with some hard driving guitar work and a punchier back beat. That latter comes courtesy of Eric Lebailly on drums. Filling out his line up is Franck Hermanny on bass and Jean-Marc Layani on keyboards. And, I had to double check, as it seemed odd to me, but guitarist Tony MacAlpine guests on keyboards. As the CD I received did not have a sleeve or tray card, I did some checking some other sources, and it seems that is the case. He's credited on tracks 3, 4 and 7 -- that being "Empty Vow," "Field Of Graves," and "Be My Thing."

Though this is Achard's baby and a vehicle for his guitar licks, this is an album filled with songs, not mere diversions for an otherwise wank-fest. However, there is enough wankery -- in a good way -- to satisfy the guitar lover. What becomes obvious from listening to the music, and from reading the comparisons above, Achard doesn't really stick to one style and run with it. This gives the music both a unique texture and a chaotic feel. What it sounds like is an artist who has absorbed a great deal of music of a wide variety and has tried to create a synthesis of all those influences. But it also means you really can't pin down anything and call it Achard's style; there's nothing that, when hearing these pieces in isolation, says "this is Cyril Achard." As a guitarist, his playing is an amalgam of so many folks -- Steve Morse, John Petrucci, Michael Romeo... to name but three. While none of this is bad, the all-over-map style of play and composition...well, as I said, makes for a chaotic listening experience. It also means that you don't get any one riff or repeated phrase - vocal or otherwise - stuck in your head. You have to admire Achard's technical skill though -- he's no slouch on the fretboard. In fact, his whole team are solid players.

One other thing that can be said about this release, it will not bore you. As I said, as much Achard puts the focus on his guitar, he doesn't forget that these are songs, that they must go somewhere. Right from the outset, with opening notes of "Alone Among My Friends" you get at least two different looks at Achard's guitar style, as the track shifts from driving metal to a bit more laid-back groove. The shifts are abrupt, which keeps you on your toes. The piece closes out with yet get a third feel, a gentle, balladic shift, which leads into a heavy, epic segment that ends the piece. "Fallen From Grace" is where Dream Theater will come to mind, especially in the convoluted and intricate opening. Here, too, I thought of Royal Hunt, though Peek only sort of sounds like ex-RH vocalist DC Cooper ... and only sorta like James LaBrie, for that matter. In each case, it is more the music -- the classical guitar style of Achard here (which, of course, brings in that Michael Romeo comparison, too). "Empty Vow" is a mellower track - though I wouldn't have made this comment more than a month ago, here I think of Sweden's A.C.T. But mellow doesn't mean that the piece is soft and fluffy, as there are some searing guitar solos from Achard. The open keyboard solos from MacAlpine seem out of character with the rest of the music in the piece itself and the drive of the album itself -- but you can tell MacAlpine is trying to duplicate the leads of Achard on those keys.

"Field Of Graves" is a chunkier, darker piece... though there's a bit playfulness there, too with a bit of early-20th Century, "music hall" like keyboard work here as yet more proof that no one piece is any one thing. It does give the album a bit of a chaotic feel, I'll admit. And yet, somehow it all seems to work. "Exile Is Over" is a keyboard/guitar duet with voice, though neither drums nor bass are absent from the mix - again we get a "Dream X"-like feel and, as you might expect, Achard lets loose on the fretboard. "The Lucky One" becomes a bit different from the rest of the album, with its use of orchestral backing and acoustic guitar. The watery, shimmery opening made me think a bit of Marillion's "Estonia," but to this is added electric guitar riffery. It's pretty much a mid-tempo rocker, but for the last minute or so, becomes even more mellow and quite nice.

It's a good album that deserves high praise, but one does find oneself wanting each piece itself to be a little less "all-over-the-map." For guitar aficionados and those who like solid, well played progressive jazz hard rock metal, this should be your cup of tea.

Alone Among My Friends (5:48) / Fallen From Grace (5:44) / Empty Vow (6:39) / Fields Of Graves (6:18) / Exile Is Over (8:20) / The Deep One's (4:28) / Be My Thing (6:43) / The Lucky One (7:43)

Cyril Achard - guitar
Patrick Peek - vocals
Eric Lebailly - drums
Franck Hermanny - bass
Jean-Marc Layani - keys


Tony MacAlpine - keyboards (3, 4, 7)

Confusion (1997/2003*)
...In Inconstancia Constans (2001)
Cyril Achard Quintet - Essensuel (2003)
Cyril Achard Trio - Trace (CD/DVD) (2007)
Violencia (2010)
*remastered w/bonus tracks

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin FR

Added: November 3rd 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1415
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]