Cast - Angels And Demons

Year of Release: 1997
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: ALF-007
Format: CD
Total Time: 72:25:00

Cast is the number one progressive rock band in Mexico. They will be celebrating 20 years in the industry in 1998 with a festival in their native Mexicali (see Festivals). Angels & Demons is the band's 1997 release following on from the excellent 1996 release Beyond Reality. Cast consist of Francisco Hernadez (vocals and guitar), Dino Carlo Brassea (vocals and flute), Jose Antonio Bringas Caire (drums and percussion), Luis Alfonso Vidales (keyboards) and Rodolfo Gonzalez Quiroz (bass guitar). The "new member" according to the back of the CD cover is Enrique Slim (vino chistes, buen humor and ironia). Is this a Mexican joke? I rather think so! All music was all composed by Alfonso Vidales with the lyrics written by Cast. The album was recorded at Cast Studios in Mexicali, Mexico and edited by Danny Berg at Rose Studios in California.

The album opens with a drum solo. "What, a drum solo?," I hear you cry. Yup! Okay so it is a 23 second solo, but a solo nevertheless. It acts as the introduction to the up-tempo "Initiation." After twenty years, Cast has lost none of their energy and enthusiasm. "Initiation" is a belter of a track that powers along with the whole band giving it 100%. Keyboards duel with guitars and drums to meld into a brilliant instrumental overture to the album. All eight minutes of it! "We Don't Belong to Heaven" shows the more mellow, more subtle side of Cast. More keyboards and guitars set the stage for the harmony voices of Francisco and Dino. There is almost a Genesisy sound to the track, circum Trick Of The Tail, I think. But the rest of the track is too haunting for Genesis, more something from the Galadriel songbook. But Cast has had enough time to evolve their own sound, so maybe I am being a little narrow-minded to find similarities to anyone else!

"Reality Or Misanthropy (Mix-Up)" is another rocker. Stupendous keyboard break by Alfonso on his teclados, while Francisco's guitars are given the freedom to roam at will, producing some intricate riffs, that seemingly do not fit the track. Somehow though it all comes together with an energy and fervour which is a joy to listen to. I bet it is a brilliant track live too! "What We See/The Increasing Sorrow of the Earth" is another cracking track. It is intricate to a level that most bands can only gasp at. It leaps across musical divides like Superman on mescaline. The interplay between keyboards and guitars is again at the core of the sound, but the whole thing is much more than the components. The power that emerges is more than the sum of the separate notes."

Angels and Demons opens with a piano solo. After all if Jose can do it, then so can Alfonso.The guy managed to cram so many notes into such a short space that I can only assume that he has had a few extra fingers grafted onto each hand. Only the likes of Rick Wakeman should be able to manage this (and I still think the keyboard solo in the clip of "Wondrous Stories" is trick photography ? I've played keyboards, and I know that cannot be done ? not in the real world!). Anyway Alfonso must have at least an extra three or four fingers ? or maybe a third arm; yes, I could believe that. One or other, anyway. Angels is a five minute instrumental based around the keyboards, and is a fine showcase of Alfonso's ivory-tickling abilities.

"Revealing Signs Of Love" consisting of "A Word From Our Main Sponsor," "Silent War" and "Unpredictable Acts of Man." The change of ambience ? indeed the whole sound is so different from "Angels" that I could be convinced that it was a different band at a different studio at a totally different time. This is the epic of the album. Three sections, almost fourteen minutes. This shows Cast at their best. The whole band piling in with clever instrumental breaks around which the rest of the band weaves their own themes. The vocals are almost another instrument, and the whole thing really works really well. Fallen Angel is another instrumental track. Alfonso's keyboards are again at the fore, although here we also have some punctuation from Jose making this almost a keyboards and percussion duet. The whole thing has incredible energy. The keyboards are lively enough but the use of percussion serves to accent the composition is very clever and very, very effective. I don't think I have ever heard a track quite like it!

"Loneliness" is another long track ? eleven minutes of top-quality music. There are almost several songs in here, it is difficult to keep track what is going on when. The re-emergence of the vocal section serves to remind you that we are still in the same song otherwise you will have drifted off into the next track or two. Not that I am complaining - the whole thing may not meld as one track, but it is just as good thought of as three or four!

"Fire In The Sky, Fire On Earth" is the fourth instrumental of the album, and here we have acoustic guitars and keyboards entwining to produce a beautifully evocative track. It has hints of the pastoral ambience of Anthony Phillips, and I can close my eyes and see those rolling mesas dotted with lush green cacti and young frolicking chillies. "White Lies/Brief Story Of The Freewill" is the most intricate of the compositions, and shows some of the band's North American roots. The flute and drumming hints at Red Indian war-chants, while the vocals switch from an almost alien off-beatness to a smooth AOR ambience. The overall effect is of a disjoined and almost jerky track, never settling, never deciding what it is doing ? and yet this is its strength, you are constantly kept on the edge of your seat wondering what the guys are going to throw at you next. A great track to close a great album with.

I only "discovered" Cast last year, and so still have eighteen years of back catalogue to catch up with. But from the evidence of their last two albums they are one of the most professional and adept bands around. Unlike the prog-dinosaurs they have not mellowed, not lost their edge. While Genesis found banal pop music, Pink Floyd discovered they could re-release the same album year after year with a new title and cover, and Yes re-discovered their back catalogue, Cast go from strength to strength. Am I right to put them in the same category as the like of Genesis, Floyd and Yes? Well, I think so. Unlike the prog bands of the 1980s, the likes of IQ, Marillion and Pendragon, Cast have evolved independently. They are the Genesises of Mexico. They have marched o their own beat; and over pretty infertile ground to. They have had to keep sharp and keep their sound evolving ? and that is what we are being offered ? an album which is the result of twenty year hard evolution, not something churned out to appease the record companies. And I think it shows. It shows in the quality of the sound, the inventiveness of the composition ? and especially in the energy of the sound. Oh, and I quite liked it to, or maybe you had already sussed that out

The review comes courtesy Frank Blades and Alternate View - an ezine that has disappeared sadly (as of August 2005) - ed.

Initiation (7:53) / We Don't Belong To Heaven (3:08) / Reality Or Misanthropy? (Mix-up) (6:31) / What We See/The Increasing Sorrow Of The Earth (8:54) / Angels And Demons (5:05) / Revealing Signs of Love (13:42) / Fallen Angel (3:18) / Loneliness (10:42) / Fire In The Sky, Fire On Earth (5:25) / White Lies?/Brief Story Of The Freewill (9:07)

Francisco Hernandez Reyes - vocals and guitar
Dino Carlo Brassea Eguia - vocals and flute
Rodolfo Gonzalez Quiroz - bass
Jose Antonio Bringas Caire - drums and percussion
Luis Alfonso Vidales Moreno - keyboards

Landing In A Serious Mind (1993)
Sounds of Imagination (1994)
Third Call (1994)
Four Aces (1995)
Endless Signs (1995)
Beyond Reality (1996)
A View of Cast - Live (1996)
Angels and Demons (1997)
Imaginary Window (1999)
A Live Experience (1999)
Legacy (2000)
Lagunas De Volcanos (2000)
Castalia (2001)
Infinity (2002)
Al-Bandaluz (2003)
Nimbus (2004)
The Pyramid Of The Rain (2005)
Mosaïque (2006)
Com.union (2007)
Originallis (2008)
Art (2011)
Arsis (2014)
Vida (2015)
Power And Outcome (2017)

Sands Of Time Live (BR) (2016)
Sinfonico Live (BR) (2018)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin MX

Added: December 1st 2000
Reviewer: Frank Blades

Artist website:
Hits: 1900
Language: english


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