Meisel, Hubi - EmOcean

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Lion Music
Catalog Number: LMC 085
Format: CD
Total Time: 71:19:00

"A progressive concept album dealing with the Bermuda Triangle, Sargasso Sea, Atlantis and the secrets of the underwater world."

If one had to sum up Hubi Meisel's new disc, EmOcean, in 20 words or less, you now know the theme behind the new progressive concept piece. Before I go further, let me give some insight as to who Hubi Meisel is. In the progressive metal world, there are some bands in which their unique approach, theories, approaches, etc put them in a position of either being loved or hated. Period. There is no in between. No gray area. No divisions of love. This can be a good sign about a band's level of greatness, or an indication that a band is so unique and diverse, that there is the obvious respect, but could mean a very "tough" listen. Either way, it leads to notoriety, which to me cannot hurt a band in any way.

Enter Hubi Meisel. Not knowing Hubi's full history, I do know that he has sang with many bands, including Maeve of Connacht (an Italian speed metal project), Dreamscape (now becoming a more famous prog metal band), Scenes (an unreleased progressive metal band), a solo disc in which he recorded songs from the 80s, and now onto his solo project. Progressive metal fans who know of Hubi (and I doubt there are many who don't), either love his voice, or hate his voice for various reasons. He probably has one of the most recognized voices in the genre, due to his soft, emotional, almost feminine tone and delivery. Some say he is a cross between Geddy Lee (Rush), and Andre Matos (ex-Angra), which I would agree with, but add in tons of emotion and attention to detail which sets him apart from the more famous singers I mention. I happen to be part of the "love" crowd that respects, admires, understands, and just plain digs what Hubi's voice is all about. That being said, Hubi has gone onto to create one hell of a solo disc that has taken him about 15 months to carefully create and unleash on the unsuspecting prog metal world. Hubi describes his music as progressive rock mixed with a good dose of melodic metal, which I would agree with but I'd certainly have to add in an even extra dose of melodic progressive metal to go into the mix, giving a good mixture of audience something to sink their ears into. Judging by the incredible musicians he has surrounded himself with; Vivien Lalu (Shadrane), Marcel Coenen (Sun Caged), Daniel Flores (Mind's Eye), and Jean Affonco (Absolute), I'd say that this list qualifies as somewhat of a progressive metal feast. And a feast it is.

Hubi has divided the concept disc into 3 separate parts; The Bermuda Triangle, The Sargasso Sea, and Atlantis. Each concept has its own personality and emotion, and played out perfectly to capture the mood and atmosphere of each surreal location. The music is led by Marcel Coenen's superb progressive guitar pyrotechnics, capable of sustaining just the right amount of power needed to propel the story forward, and also adding in tasty solos in the right places to satisfy the utmost budding guitar hero. There is enough "crunch" to keep the avid prog metal listener happy, while maintaining a slick, polished sound throughout without ever veering off into that uncharted territory we know as "wankery." The keyboards of Vivien Lalu are really what make this disc shine besides the incredible vocals. Vivien has somehow managed to incorporate a surreal, almost New Age approach to the background of the thunderous guitar work to give this disc a certain "soft / hard" attack from the opening song to the very end. An endless supply of strings, synths, piano, chimes and endless sounds accompany this entire disc which ultimately contribute to the beauty of the sound and the story. The bass and drums are in perfect sync with each other, almost like a dance of thunder, combining to bring a wonderful bottom, heavy end to a softer keyboard / vocal approach. The drumming is Daniel Flores is always phenomenal, and his playing here is no exception. Careful not to ever take a front seat to the story and / or the rest of the band, Daniel exhibits as much control as he does power and complexity throughout the disc. The music line itself has a significant, addictive groove found throughout each piece. Each piece has a groove that is followed through the songs that keep you headbanging, toetapping, and smiling. There are times when the music is stopped completely, and Hubi is left on his own with a piano / synth accompaniment, and it is here that you can hear the true beauty and emotion of Hubi's voice. Hubi's voice means emotion ? it is filled with a gift of story telling, sincerity, and at times power, but never overwhelming. He is on a mission to tell a story by using many emotions, and to hear someone with a gift like his sends chills up the spine each and every time out. He takes each piece of the concept, and tells a story. It is beautifully told, beautifully sung, and beautifully convincing. The softness of his voice against the backdrop of powerful music is the underlying winning combination that makes this disc work as well as it does.

In addition to the wonderful music and story, Hubi has mixed and produced the disc himself, and has come up with sonic splendor as a result. Each and every instrument has its place in the mix; with no one instrument ever overpowering the other, or even taking front seat. The guitars are placed just right for crunch and power ? the keyboards are crisp, clear, and wrap the music in some surreal, sun-drenched warmth that is a constant throughout the disc. The drums and bass are about as perfectly in sync as it gets and the vocals are clean and crisp throughout, making Hubi's words easy to hear and understand. This is sonic bliss for the progressive music listener.

I'd recommend this disc to any progressive music listener that loves their music drenched in a warm, surreal, atmospheric cloak with a good dose of power. Hubi Meisel knows progressive music ? and Hubi Meisel knows how to create a near perfect progressive concept disc. It is certainly hard to find any fault with this disc, and at almost 72:00 of music and 2 bonus tracks, you can't even use the obligatory "too short a disc" excuse when the rest of the disc is about as perfect as it gets. Take a plunge into the water world of Hubi Meisel, and go to a place that is tranquil, surreal, beautiful and enchanting. If you are a fan of progressive metal laced with New Age keyboards and great guitar work, this is what it is all about.

Part 1 - Lost In The Waters Of Sargasso / Poseidon's Trident / Nocturnal Breeze / Dolphin's Wake / Part 2 - Underwater Tears / Fanta Sea / The Souls Of Atlantis / Sapientia Vitae / Aeure Dreams / Part 3 - Aqua Phoenix / Aero Nautical / EmOcean / Bonus Tracks - Crystal Moon / Tears Of An Enchanted Sea

Hubi Meisel ? vocals
Vivien Lalu ? keyboards
Marcel Coenen ? guitars
Daniel Flores ? drums

Triple X - Dreamdancer (1996)
Dreamscape - Trance-like State
Dreamscape - Very (1999)
Scenes - A New Beginning (1999)
Scenes - Understatement (1999)
Maeve Of Connacht - Imaginary Tales (2001)
Cut (2002)
EmOcean (2004)
Kailash (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin DE

Added: June 23rd 2004
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website:
Hits: 804
Language: english


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