Lord Of Mushrooms - Lord Of Mushrooms

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Musea
Catalog Number: FGBG 4456.AR
Format: CD
Total Time: 53:33:00

I was (and still am) of mixed minds about Lord Of Mushroom's debut release. As I sometimes wonder if it's just me - am I being too nitpicky, am I too locked-in on a set of references that I can't "think outside the box" (a phrase now so over used, to use it is not thinking outside the box) -- I do a little 'net surfing to see if the opinions of other reviewers is similar or vastly different from my own - and why. Well, in this case, these other reviewers seem to concur with my impressions, which means it's not just me -- or we're all locked in the same box?

Lord Of Mushrooms play a mellow, melodic rock based style of progressive. This is a style that has appealed to me, being a fan of bands such as Enchant, Jadis, Pallas, etc. While it might seem to be the "easy way out" of trying to describe a band's sound, Lord Of Mushrooms sound a lot like early Enchant and early Pallas, though vocalist Julien Vallespi sounds more like Jadis' Gary Chandler. Of course, mention "neo-prog" and invariably, a host of other bands come to mind, and at one point or another, you can find elements of them in LOM's sound, but these are too numerous and too brief to mention.

LOM's are your basic make up of guitar (Laurent James), bass (Julien Negro), drums (Volodia Brice), keyboards (Quentin Benayoun) and vocals. Benayoun's keyboards are most often of the parpy variety; Negro's bass is often an element that, while not the focus, if it were absent, it would be noticed. Negro does get a few moments in the spotlight, one such time being the spacey intro to the instrumental "Coma." About a third of the way through this 9-plus minute track is where Benayoun really pops out of the mix with a mellow walking bass figure.

Where LOM differs from these bands (aside from their point of origin), is that they throw in some jazzy piano interludes, the first heard during the second track, "Predictions." A bit of this jazz piano is intermixed with the heavy, churning guitars that open "The Man Outside," too. Here, too, you will hear a bit of Hammond organ, which doesn't appear elsewhere. And the abovementioned "Coma," approaches metal for a few seconds, before throttling back for more jazzy piano figures from Benayoun.

In a way, however, all these pieces seem over arranged, as if they had so many ideas (borrowed and otherwise) that they tried to include many of them into a single piece. That makes these pieces seem direction-less. And, admittedly after listening to this album several times, there are only two things that really stick with me about it in a concrete manner. That I hear a bit of Chicago's "Saturday In The Park" in the album's opener, "Void" - but this only puts the Chicago tune in my head, not "Void." I must mention here, too, that there were a few spots where I thought of Magellan (who, incidentally, add a few Chicago like elements to their own music).

The other thing sticking with me is chorus to the slinky "Afterlife," which reminded me of James LaBrie in his Mullmuzzler guise. So much so, I could almost hear LaBrie singing that very word. Well, it isn't that Vallespi sounds like LaBrie, but that if you look at the tracklisting to the second Mullmuzzler album you find there, right at track number 1, "Afterlife" (a track, incidentally, co-written by Magellan's Trent Gardner).

What makes me iffy about Lord Of Mushrooms is the production - it's very thin, and the album is poorly mixed. Some of Brice's percussion work sounds as if his cymbals are made of powder - a very dry sound. That they are often to far up in the mix at the wrong time, makes this even more obvious. The placement of Vallespi vocals make it seem as if he's straining to be heard above the instrumentation - then you realize, it's your ears straining to find the right balance. It a process that one can find quite irritating.

The potential is there, as this quintet do play well, but better production, tighter arrangements, and a clearer direction would go along way in improving Lord Of Mushroom's chances of finding success in the modern prog world.

Void (8:55) / Predictions (9:07) / The Man Outside (7:33) / The Dream (5:51) / Collision (5:41) / Coma (inst.) (9:02) / Afterlife (7:44)

Julien Vallespi - lead vocals
Laurent James - guitars and backing vocals
Quentin Benayoun - keyboards
Volodia Brice - drums
Julien Negro - bass and backing vocals

Lord Of Mushrooms (2002)
Seven Deadly Songs (2005)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin FR

Added: November 2nd 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.myspace.com/lordofmushroomsprog
Hits: 592
Language: english


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