Nathan Mahl - Heretik: Volume I: Body Of Accusations

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Mahl Productions
Catalog Number: NMA006
Format: CD
Total Time: 59:16:00

Nathan Mahl's new album, Heretik Volume I: Body of Accusations, is -- or so I've heard -- the first part of a three-CD concept piece. The story follows a man who has boldly disagreed with the spiritual leanings of his peers and so is arrested and put up on trial for heresy. Musically, the album is mostly instrumental, with the few vocal passages required to move the story along. The playing is keyboard-oriented symphonic prog with a healthy dose of fusion added to the mix. There are even a couple of bluesy passages that pop up here and there. The driving guitar and soaring keyboards -- backed by a powerful drum/bass rhythm section -- keep things moving along at a brisk pace for most of the album, although there are a few quieter moments.

The longest piece on the album is titled "Heretik Part I" and is a nearly 22-minute opus that leaps from prog to jazz to blues and all styles in between, though there are many EL&P-inspired parts, because, after all, this is Guy LeBlanc's show and the keyboard is his axe. That's not to say that the guitarist, Marc Spénard, doesn't give his faithful Strat a good workout, the notes flying from his strings like angry bees from a hive. Spénard's soloing has a definite blues feel to it, although he produces plenty of sophisticated counterpoints to LeBlanc's keys.

The album features two other lengthy pieces (one over 11 minutes and the other over 15 minutes), as well as two shorter songs. Unfortunately, the 15-minute piece, which is the album's closer, is, for some bizarre reason, mixed in mono rather than stereo. This is the second CD I've reviewed in the last few weeks that has this problem. What is it with these people and monophonic mixes? I do a lot of my listening in headphones (my wife loathes prog rock) and nothing kills a song for me faster than a poor mix. What's really sad is that, from a compositional point of the view, this last piece is probably the best on the album, managing to combine a great song with lots of terrific playing. It's a crime that the fun is ruined by lazy production.

The bad mix of the last track notwithstanding, Heretik Volume I is another success for the wonderful Nathan Mahl. Every lover of keyboard-oriented symphonic prog will want to keep this one loaded into his or her CD player. I can't wait to hear Heretik parts II and III, the first of which is due for release later this year.

When All Was Well (1:46) / Heretik Part I (21:19) / Heretik Part II (4:17) / Crimen Excepta (5:45) / Heretik Part III (11:01) / Carpe Diem (15:06)

Guy LeBlanc - keyboard, percussion and vocals
Marc Spénard - guitars
Alain Bergeron - drums
Claude Prince - 5-string bass

Parallel Eccentricities (1983/1997)
The Clever Use Of Shadow (1998)
Heretik Volume I: Body Of Accusations (2000)
Heretik Volume II: The Trial (2001)
Heretik Volume III: The Sentence (2002)
Shadows Unbound (2003)
Live At NEARFest '99 (2004)
Exodus (2009)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin CA

Added: March 6th 2001
Reviewer: Clayton Walnum

Artist website:
Hits: 849
Language: english


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