Friday, January 21, 2011

Weekly Dose of Prog: Ciccada - A Child In The Mirror

New weekly segment (not something I usually do, I'm trying new things) dedicated to the genre of progressive rock and metal. This blog has been mostly about doom and stoner, but I love prog music so I'm going to try and make some time for this genre as well:

I was searching through Prog Archives and I discovered their '2010 Top Albums' page (now altered to '2010-11 Top Albums'). Being a fan of progressive music and not really having too much modern prog in my collection, I decided to listen to a few of the best prog albums of 2010, so voted by the folks at Prog Archives. The first album is in Italian, so I skipped right over it, moving on to Haken and Ciccada in the number two and three locations, respectively (Also bands of note: Hypnos 69 is in the number four spot, Amplifier in fourteen, Samsara Blues Experiment at sixty-two, Agalloch at eighty-seven, and Cloudkicker at the ninety-eighth location). So I quickly scooped up these two albums, figuring that I deserve some damn good progressive rock and metal in my life. And so, I'm writing reviews about both of them; this one being about A Child In The Mirror by Ciccada.
Ciccada plays a symphonic-prog that is actually quite refreshing. In an era where there are so many cookie-cutter acts and bands that do nothing but hedge to their idols, it's nice to see someone out there trying new things. They incorporate many instruments into their sound, xylophone, clarinet, flute, and I'm sure some more that I was unable to pull from the music. The vocals are female, which gives the whole record a haunting beauty that pairs well with the alternative instruments quite well. They merge the classic style of progressive rock (King Crimson, Gentle Giant, etc) with a Jethro Tull-esq baroque melody, and each song that is in English (there are a couple that are in Greek) are wonderful.

There seems to be a bit of an underlying theme here, but I'm not getting it. I am just enjoying the album jumping from symphonic-medieval rock into smash-your-face heavy metal, it's all inter-spliced very well and moves together very nicely. I wish there was something more to point out, a song or two that stands out from the pack or a particularly intricate section or melody, but the whole album is so superb that it's just not possible. I will say that "An Endless Sea" is their most metallic song, but even then woodwinds are incorporated so the simple beauty is never lost.

From the first song to the last, Ciccada's A Child In The Mirror is something special. Their collection of symphonic elements blend excellently with their progressive tendencies, all the way from simple rock to heavy metal. The concept of haunting beauty is never lost, it even never waivers. This is an album for most anyone, be you progressive fans or not. I have several female friends that are always trying to get into progressive rock and heavy metal, but have thus far not had an easy way to get a foothold on that mountain. I think Ciccada is that starting point, something that anyone could enjoy and use as a jumping off point, either into more prog or in taking a baby-step into the world of heavy metal. Seriously great, I just wish that I had heard it last year, easily within my 'Top 20 of 2010.' If this is only a bronze in the Prog Archives list for 2010, I can't wait to hear what the silver medalist, Haken, has to offer.

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