Hydrotoxin - Oceans


Year of Release: 1996
Label: Crystal Entertainment
Catalog Number: CRCD 085-54092
Format: CD
Total Time: 47:50:00

I've had this disc for quite awhile now, and frankly, I didn't know how to word this review. This is one of those bands that is VERY hard to describe easily. I am not even sure to this day that I know exactly what to say about the band, and that in itself is a good sign that it is a good disc. Everyone probably just thought, "oh great!!! original disc!! I gotta have it" ... I think the main reason that I am having such a hard time figuring this band out, is that there is so much going on within the music, I've had to pick apart just about everything that makes up this disc. To say that it "sounds like" or "compares to" this band or that band would do this band injustice. Again, this says even more about the disc, but I had to wait for a few people to hear this disc before I said my piece about it.

The interesting thing about it is that everyone who has heard it, can't figure out why this thing hasn't gotten tons of raves from me, and that everything about Prog Metal that I like is on this disc. While this may be true, I think I've finally grasped onto what this disc is doing for me, and what it is not doing for me. I will be using thoughts from other people in my review of the music, but they will remain unnamed. If you see your thoughts floating around in my review, I hope you don't mind, and you know who you are, but I needed a bit of help with this one and I thank you for your input.

THE STYLE:

It would be nice to say that this band closely resembles another band, and move on. I can't do that. There is too much going on in the music, and the band never stands still for a moment, making it that much harder. However, I think at this point it is safe to say that if you like Lemur Voice, you should like this band. If I am not mistaken, they are even from the same country. Not that it means anything, but I found it interesting to point that out. As with Lemur Voice, the sound is keyboard / guitar driven, and I heard from some people that they thought that the keyboards were too out front, and the guitar was pushed a bit back in the mix. In Lemur Voice, you get that nice, up front key mix, but you also get the crunchy guitars that equal in the mix, and here is one of the differences bewteen the two bands. I don't think that is a mix problem though, I think that this is intentional, and the beautiful keyboard sounds are what drives Hydrotoxin's sound. The guitars are there, but they accent the keyboard sound. Another band that comes to mind is Chaos Theory. I would have to say that if you like Chaos Theory, you will like this band. They seem to have that same, keyboard driven approach to the music but you know the guitars are there. If you notice the bands I mention, Lemur Voice and Chaos Theory, you will notice that those bands take their Prog seriously, and they never let us forget that they are here to create excellent PROG music. As in other bands, its easy to liken a style to say, "power metal with prog tendencies" ... with the listed bands, and Hydrotoxin, the emphasis is on PROG first, and then you can decide later what they inject into their sound along with it. Therefore, if you like that "true" progressive" style like Lemur Voice, Chaos Theory and others, this music will excite you. Hydrotoxin also seems bent on making their music as beautiful as it can be despite some of the heavy progressive stylings in their music, and I love when bands do this. I feel that excessive progression for the sake of gets to be a bit boring, but Hydrotoxin shoots for a more "pretty" style of that prog, and the massive array of keyboards they use on this disc is more than just a passing beauty. It drives the feel of the music.

THE BAND:

Vocals, drums, bass, guitar, keyboards ..... same set up as Lemur Voice. I still find the similarities in these two bands to be very enjoyable, because I love Lemur Voice. The drums and bass, I usually don't say too much about, because I take it for granted that if these two individuals weren't good, the rest of the music would suffer, and I've always found drummers and bass players hard to describe, yet I've always taken it for granted that in order to be in a Prog Metal band, the drummer and bass player have to be extremely talented to lay out an intricate foundation and keep up with each other in what I fel are the two hardest instruments to play in a prog atmosphere. This may be up for argument, but I've always noticed that people usually don't enjoy a disc because of a guitar sound, a less than average singer, or terribly mixed keyboards. So, with that perspective in mind, suffice it to say that the drummer and bass player in Hydrotoxin are excellent ..... The guitarist is a lot of fun to listen to. Here is a major difference between this player and the Lemur Voice player. LM goes for that "crunchy" sound, while the Hydrotoxin player opts to compliment the keyboard passages. He is not forceful, nor does he have any blinding, shredding solos. Instead, he adds more beauty to the music by complementing the keyboard sound. I love when guitar players tone it down, whip out some effects pedals, and start making nice swirling passages inside an already beautiful style of music. Sure, I love the ripping, shredding dudes like everyone else, but this music is not written for that style. Again, the emphasis is on beauty here. I keep mentioning Chaos Theory and Lemur Voice, but as I absorb this music, I cannot help but feel the technical sides of prog metal, but with an added sense of warm melodies that keep me coming back for more. Here is where the keyboards come in, and much to my delight. Very few bands can captivate me melodically without the use of keyboards, although they are out there. In the meantime, bands like Symphony X, Stratovarius, Threshold and many others that are nice and heavy but add that keyboard sound that make their sound absolutely irresistable for me. Then, bands like Hydrotoxin, Lemur Voice, Soundscape and many others come along and throw in a forceful keyboard sound, but never losing the sight that they are a prog metal band absolutely floors me. While the keyboardist here does not give the impression of being a virtuoso, there is no doubt as to who is making this music sound as beautiful as it is. His "wall of sound" as I like to call it, makes for some of the best keyboarded driven music I've heard. Bands like Chaos Theory, Marillion, Genesis, and others with massive sound come to mind. This also gives me my reputation for liking my "warm" prog metal, and there are so many bands out there that give me this type of enjoyment.

THE PRODUCTION:

Absolutely pristine ..... a nice blend of the instuments, although a couple of people commented on the fact that the guitar mix is put back a bit behind the keyboards. I agree, but I am not complaining, because you can still hear what the guitarist is doing. It is only fitting that the keyboards be out out front, because this is where there sound comes from. Every single instrument can be heard with no problem, and the bass mix is really nice on this one. It's a shaker for sure. Clearly, though, the producer went for a more keyboard / vocal mix up front, and this is exactly what we got. Like some vocalists, its hard to hear what they are singing due to the mix, but in this case, the vocals are so up front, its hard NOT to hear what he is saying. His slight accent may have a negative effect on what I just said, but I'll get to that. All in all, this disc sounds absolutely incredible, and once again, just like the Lemur Voice disc .....

THE VOCALS:

I have realized where there is any negativity to be found with this disc, and I had help having this confirmed for me. While the singer is very good, there are some parts to the music where he is just a bit flat and it really stands out. It kind of makes you squint a bit when he does this, and all the while I couldn't figure out what it was that was keeping me from jumping all over this disc as an essential. Some people have commented on this aspect of his voice as well, and now I know I am not the only one hearing this. By the way, the singer sounds almost exactly like Gregoor Ven Der Loo of Lemur Voice, only with a bit less high pitch. Same tonal qualities, same phrasing, same everything except that Jioti Parcharidis ( Hydrotoxin ) has just a bit of a lower tone to him. For those who are unfamiliar with Lemur Voice, I would have to say that a STeve Perry / Sting mix of a voice would in order there. Just try to imagine those two with a lower tone. I am not sure if this is intentional or not, but in some places he just sings a bit "flatter" than the music around him. I know bands are starting to mess around with the styles of vocals in contrast to the melodies, and I know lots of bands that have the vocal lines singing out of tune, or sound like they are singing in a different key than the music, and I personally don't like it. Here, it just sounds like in places that he wither can't hit the higher notes, or his voice won't allow him to maintain the beautiful tone he actually has throughout the disc. This is a very small complaint, of course, compared to the overall beauty of this disc, but several people did notice this as well, and I don't feel so alone anymore in feeling this way. In conclusion, the guys has a great voice, its just that you will notice in some certain parts of the songs, he just moves away from the music melodies and it sounds like he is a bit flat, or out of tune. It will not detract from the beauty of this disc, but at least I know now why I squint sometimes during some of the songs.

THE COMMENTS:

This is not a disc that put on your player, and all of a sudden you have been transported to Heaven. It takes a bit to figure out where this disc is going, and what the intentions of the band were. After spending several months with it, I get it. It is indeed one of the more beautifully sounding prog metal discs out there. Some will argue this point, but I hear some nice, laid back, Neo=Proggish=type melodies behind all of the metal progression, and I believe that its this mix of warmth that grabs me in. It is heavy enough for metal-heads, but make no mistake, its a laid back keyboard-driven disc, and not quite as heavy as Lemur Voice or Chaos Theory but just as proggy and beautiful. Notwithstanding this, every time I take this disc out, I check out the artwork on it, and I still can't figure out what the painting is all about, cool as it is. Another interesting point, this disc contains one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard, and its the title track called "Oceans." A 10-minute extravaganza of beauty that never ceases to bring chills to me and cringe with delight. This disc is abolutely beautiful, and don't let the vocal complaints deter you, because you know my reputation for having the vocals perfect most of the time. It's just what keeps me from hailing this disc to the extent that it really should be. It deserves more than just attention. Prog Metal has always been referred to as the "thinking man's music" and this disc is no exception. Try to figure out these lyrics mean and I'm sure some college university will hire you as their psychological advisor. Bottom line, if you are a "true" progger, something I refer to as someone who admires the true innards of what "progressive" really means in this genre, then you will love this disc. If you like Lemur Voice, or Chaos Theory, then I would strongly guess that you would love this disc as well. If you are looking for something a bit different, but absolutely beautiful and mesmorizing, then this will also make you jump for joy. There are so many reasons to love this disc, I am sure you will find something inside you as a music lover / prog lover that will be satisfied to no end.


Tracklisting:
Aquasun (1:41) / Door To December (3:18) / Forest Rain (7:52) / Infinite Ways (10:28) / Labyrinth (7:23) / Nexus (7:13) / Oceans (9:40)

Musicians:
Jioti Parcharidis - vocals
Andreas Kienitz - guitars
Oliver Hintz - keyboards
Pelle - drums
Matthias Vogel - bass

Discography:
Oceans (1996)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

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

Hits: 806
Language: english

  

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