PHIDEAUX - Doomsday Afternoon

Phideaux - Doomsday Afternoon

10 songs
66:59 minutes
***** *****


Second part of an eco terror trilogy, Phideaux is back with Doomsday Afternoon, a ten-track epic which would have deserved the title of its predecessor, The Great Leap. In the past, Phideaux played airplay friendly prog pop that won people over with its sincere approach. The new album has now been released with more than a six month delay, so when I was finally holding it in my hand, I was so eager I had to let everything drop. Phideaux changed. That was my first impression. My second one was: he changed a lot. Doomsday Afternoon feels like one single song, with recurring leitmotifs popping up all over the place. His band consists of eight people, with more than half a dozen artists having guest spots, and a little orchestra adding symphonic touches here and there.

Starting and ending with two tracks easily breaking the ten minute wall, there’s vintage keyboards aplenty, great piano parts by the master himself, but also Gabriel Moffat gets more room for his guitars. Vocals are mostly shared by Phideaux and Valerie Gracious (who once was Phideaux’s mother in a school play where he played Moses), but a welcome appearance comes from Matthew Parmenter who does some guest vocals and lots of violins on a few tracks. I just wish they would have given one entire song to the former Discipline frontman, because not everyone can pretend to be the USA’s answer to Peter Hammill. Noteworthy is also IQ’s Martin Orford’s synth solo on Formaldehyde.

Critics might now accuse Doomsday Afternoon of being overblown, pretentious and not really original at all. They may not be wrong, but I consider this masterpiece a clever piece of art, inspired by such great and unforgettable albums like The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (Genesis), Snow Goose (Camel) and The Wall (Pink Floyd). Doomsday Afternoon is a true concept album, with a lot of thought and work having gone into a meaningful structure that most other bands these days can only dream of. Especially the last two pieces sport some organs that remind me heavily of Van der Graaf Generator, making this CD finally something like a roundtrip of Seventies prog from the UK. As a fan of that genre, it always feels great to discover that there are still bands out there who master that sound, and when they, like Phideaux, even manage to be better than many bands from that period, I feel obliged to give the maximum rating to my (until now) favourite album of the year. Doomsday Afternoon may be less accessible than Phideaux’ previous works, but to those willing to invest some time, it will eventually be their most redeeming effort yet. This is the great leap no one could have expected in that size from this splendid American band… even more surprising as they are still a self-financed entity without a big or even small label to help them.

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