Project: Alcazar - Reasons For A Decade
Recording that material under the name of Project: Alcazar can surprise a little bit, because Chris Steberl is the only one composer and the brain of undertaking. American guitar virtuoso recorded his first solo album - "Play Time's Over" in 1998, so I don't understand why "Reasons For A Decade" wasn't published under his own name? But the CD in my player speaks for itself and throws all doubts away!
To be totally honest, I admit that (beside Chris) I can only associate a drummer John Homan with progressive metal band Magnitude 9. It's hard to say if we listen to a regular band or the project of musicians loosely connected with themselves? But, is it the most important matter? Obviously, it isn't - the first place always belongs to music!
By the entrance, we are welcomed with a reference to Modest Moussorgsky's symphonic (tone) poem - "Nightmare On Bald Mountain". Pretty well - when American plays that composition (referring to folk fairy tells), I feel witches' presence, haha. The composition is performed very impetuously and "massively". Heaviness included in the track brings Steberl closer to Michael Romeo's progressive style, however neoclassical motifs direct listener's attention towards Olaf Lenk's output. Techno-thrashers can successfully compare his version with Mekong Delta's interpretation of the same track. Moving to "TranceMission", we automatically turn to Neil Zaza's music. We can easily sense a passion and happiness in melodic music by Chris Steberl. "Neptune Island" takes a bend towards progressive world similar to John Petrucci's "Suspended Animation". Regarding Vivaldi's "Summer Concerto (3rd movement)", I'd like to praise Chris for interesting arrangements' solutions. In that composition, originally slow fragments are performed faster, and originally fast - as slower ones or with variations added by American. Obviously, framework of the composition stands still invariable. In "Sahara Skies", we are taken on a desert trip being accompanied by camels and... scorching sun. Furher, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is waiting for us. His work is played both majesticly, rollickingly, and even jazzy a little bit (take note of keys). American lightly and freely speeds through Mozart's "25th Symphony in G-minor". There are bright and relaxing track of charactristic title "Silk'n'Honey" waiting for us in the end of the album.
I must admit that stylistical diversification is significant, taking neoclassical references, progressive elements and jazzy "one-night stand" into consideration. We can estimate the CD in two ways - as regards interpretation fidelity (the nearer to the original, the higher note - it is so-called puritanical attitude) or for the sake of innovation. Personally, I am closer to the second one. The more innovative interpretation with relation to the first version is, the more valuable it is. By such artist's attitude towards classical composition, he can anew discover his favourite composer and, simultaneosuly, we are able to appreciate our contemporary musicians' talents who needn't be clones of Vivaldi or Bach. There is a simple principle: "someone must be first". The whole trick is to derive beautiful exemplars from the past, and then contribute to their dissemination and development. It is just metal music's role to play - especially its neoclassical kind. Neoclassicism in hard'n'heavy music convinces me that Bach, Paganini, Vivaldi, Corelli and the likes would have chosen hard rock or metal to express themselves for sure, if they had lived in today's world and been able to pick up electric guitar (after throwing their original instruments away, haha). I am happy that I don't have to prove it, because the best evidence of my thesis are the likes of Chris Steberl among others!