Heaven's Cry - Food For Thought Substitute


Year of Release: 1996
Label: Hypnotic Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 54:40:00

I bought this disc back in the summer of '97 when it first became available here in the United States. The interesting thing about this disc is that I can't tell you why I even became interested in the disc in the first place. I had been corresponding with a bud from Montreal, who was in a record store looking for some discs for me and he had found this disc by a band called Heaven's Cry and was told by the store owner that the band was a great, progressive metal band. Hey, that was good enough for me. I bought the disc from a vendor who was just stocking them here in the USA so I had my copy.

A prog metal band from Canada? Interesting in its own right. So I put my newly acquired Heaven's Cry disc in the player, and here is what happens:

THE STYLE

At first listen, I was very confused. Was this a prog metal band with prog rock roots, or a prog rock band with metal tendencies? I don't think to this day that I know the answer, making this disc one of the hardest discs I've ever had to describe to anyone. It's heavy enough to be a metal disc, yet it's soft enough at times to be a prog rock disc, yet, there is no denying that it is a Progressive disc through and through. Ultimately, the band takes a very complex route throughout the entire disc, yet never failing to maintain enough warmth and melody to keep the listener interested. However, I dare anyone to find a simple melody line that you can tap your foot to, and I dare anyone to find another band to compare this band's sound to. Intrigued yet? If you are open minded, creative, and on the hunt for that "unusual", "original sounding band," look no further than Heaven's Cry. Driven by a combination of guitar and keyboard musically, the band is also vocally driven as well. You won't find many solos, showcasing of talent, or anything that resembles a common structured song anywhere on this disc. What you will find is a total cohesiveness of all instruments, including the use of vocals, to create what this band is all about. All instruments have equal time, and that includes vocals. The sound seems to be structured around semi-complex, semi-technical, yet warm melodies that carry each song through its paces. The interesting thing is that they use this same approach on every song, yet each song manages to sound different, which is what I think makes this band special. If you like your music progressive, somewhat heavy, somewhat complex yet warm, creative and unique, you will like this band hands down. Just prepare yourself for something extremely different that what you are normally used to.

THE BAND:

The band is made up of guitars, bass, vocals, an additional keyboardist, and an additional guitarist who is credited as "finger picking guitar." The guitar sound pretty much dominates this sound along with the keyboards, but the keyboards are mainly used as atmospheric backdrops for the guitar sound. The guitars are very melodic, and at times an acoustic guitar is used in conjunction with the electrics for more beauty. The guitarists are well schooled in progressive music, and it is their style that pretty much seems to drive this unique sound. I don't hear too many solos throughout the disc, and with the work that the guitarists do to drive this sound, it is any wonder that there is the time or desire to throw in solos, although this music does not really have too many places where solos would be interjected. The music in itself is a story line to follow, and musicians will have a field day trying to follow what these guys are doing. If I had to make any sort of a comparison in styles, and I say this just to give an example, try to imagine what Alex Lifeson would sound like playing extremely progressive music. Of course, the bass and drums are a lesson in tempo / time changes within their own right. These guys are well schooled in progressive music, and it amazes me that musicians can write music like this much less play it. If I am giving the impression that the music is overly technical, that might be true if it weren't for the nice melodies that the band lays down over the technical parts that mask the true identity of technicality for the sake of being. I personally do not enjoy pure technical music, but when bands lay down wamrth on top of it to mask the coldness, I enjoy it tremendously. Needless to say, if you are a fan of the "5 songs within a song" school of thought, then this disc will excite you. I don't believe that any one song sounds the same throughout on the whole disc. With each song, you get at least 3 songs within each, sometimes heading up to 5. At that rate, who is really counting?

THE PRODUCTION:

There isn't an empty spot on this disc. Meaning: every available track had to be used to achieve a sound this thick and varied. At times, it sounds like there are about 3 guitarists, 3-5 singers, and just a thick wall of sound coming out of your speakers. I will get to the vocal part next, because that is a section all in its own when it comes to this band. Suffice it to say that the band loves harmonizing vocals throughout. Personally, I wish the drums were just a bit more up front in the mix, but I do know that this is a common occurrence in progressive music recordings. Why this is, I'll never know, but the drums seem to be held back a bit in the sound, and when you have a sound this thick and wholesome, it would be nice to have a big, banging drum sound as well. Instead, what you get is that tinny snare drum sound lots of prog metal bands are famous for. I've been told that this is a natural sound, and that bands do this intentionally, but personally I'd make the drum sound a bit more punchier. The vocals are right up front, and they should be, because the vocals play a very important part of this band. The bass is up in the mix pretty good, and it is easy to hear the bass notes very clearly, although trying to follow his lines is a chore in itself; bass players unite. The guitars sound very overdubbed, and as I said, it sounds like there are more than 2-3 guitarists playing in each song, sometimes more. The interesting thing with the guitar sound is that each overdub has the guitarists playing something different. On one track they are playing the melodies, while on the other 2 tracks they are playing solos, while on even another there might be an acoustic guitar interacting as well. Someone has a super understanding of what a guitarists' role is in a band, and they use this approach very effectively. The guitar sound is not too far up in the mix, and I've said that every instrument gets equal time on this disc, even the many guitar sounds. Someone decided that all recording levels should be the same, and this is what it sounds like. No one instrument stands out, which I believe accounts for the huge, thick sound they achieve.

THE VOCALS:

The bass player and one of the guitarists share the vocal duties, and I honestly can't hear the tonal difference between the two singers. My personal guess is that Pierre St. Jean, one of the guitarists is the primary singer, but I have nothing to base that on except for the fact that his name appears first in the song writing credits. A weak assumption, but one nonetheless. Whoever the main singer is, his voice is uncannily close to the voice of Jon Bon Jovi. Everyone I've talked to that owns this disc agrees with this comparison , so I don't feel strange saying so. This is not a bad thing at all. If you could imagine Bon Jovi singing some strong, emotional, prog metal, you will hear that it actually works well. There are tons of vocal overdubs on this disc, unusually so for a prog metal band, and it always sounds like there are about 2-3 singers singing each song. The band definitely believes in harmonies, instrumentally and vocally. A few times I was reminded of some Yes-like harmonies, thus the prog rock comparison. Overall, if you like Bon Jovi's voice, you will like this singer's voice as well.

THE LYRICS:

It's no easy feat to sit here with this booklet and try to figure out what the songs are all about. As a matter of fact, get out your thinking caps, and old Psyche 101 books from school and have a field day with these intelligent lyrics because thats about what it takes to decipher what this band is trying to say. Those of you that are tired of love stories, faires, dragons and world problems, check this band out. With titles like "Your God's Crime," "The Alchemist," "Face," "Gaia's Judgement," it's easy to see that the songs may be filled with tons of hidden meanings and interesting topics. Another big plus for this band.

THE COMMENTS:

The bottom line here is, this is one unique, creative band. A band that I cannot properly describe to you no matter how hard I try. As I've said, the band is definitely prog metal, but with some prog rock tendencies, or they could be prog rock with a metal sound. This is something better left to the listener. Fans of technical metal are going to love this band, and fans that want to get into a technical sound without that cold, empty feeling might do well to check this band out too. I cannot say that this band is for everyone. The one thing that I do stress here is originality; this band does not sound like anyone else that I know of. The instruments seem to have a sound all of their own, as do the vocals. There is also no denying the immense talent of this band, and again it amazes me that musicians can write and play this sort of material as effortlessly as this band does. Anyone looking for some new and exciting ideas in progressive music need look no further. At the very least, you will be privy to some great musicianship and some interesting lyrical approaches. Tread lightly here, and open up a new door in progressive music.

[The Japanese version has two additional tracks: "Feel The Fire" and "A Single Century." DVS has had plans to reissue the CD, but as of August 2005, that has not materialized, though the band is said to be working on a third album - ed.]


Tracklisting:
Your God's Crime (5:01) / Out of Me (5:33) / March (5:44) / The Alchemist (6:30) / Gaia's Judgement (6:35) / Face (5:39) / Cruel Disguise (5:36) / The Horde (6:49) / Passage (3:04) / Wings (4:10) / Feel The Fire (Japanese Bonus Track) A Single Century (Japanese Bonus Track)

Musicians:
Sylvain Auclair - bass and vocals
Sebastian Boisvert - guitars
Luc D' Aoust - drums and percussion
Pierre St-Jean - guitars and vocals
Olaf Quinzanos - finger picking guitar

Discography:
Food For Thought Subsitute (1997)
Primal Power Addiction (2002)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin CA

Added: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website: www.heavenscry.com
Hits: 696
Language: english

  

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