Genre: Progressive Rock
Released: Oct 2018
Reviewed by: Benedict Roff-Marsh
Xavier Bosher is a French guitarist and composer of music in the Progressive Rock space, with definite shades of Metal.
His press photos show a propensity for staring into space whilst holding one of the pretty PMC guitars he seems to be sponsored by.
The cover for “Eternity” suggests a darker feel than the album really delivers. Not that I hold that as a complaint but Xavier has a tendency to more floral melodies whilst the image is heavily hellish Hieronymus (Bosch).
I will admit that my initial reaction was not great and I was on the verge of passing. The problem was that I felt that there was no real development of melody and that the track, while it sounded great on first inspection, was just too LOUD. The drums and bass just seem to hammer away non-stop which overshadows any sense of subtlety in the narrative of the music.
The narrative can also tend to be limited as development of the melodies over time doesn’t really happen. There is a great tendency to feeling that I am getting exactly the same loop over and over. In first listen to “Amatory”, when I was really getting too tense (past the point when musical release or variation should be used) the variation was to essentially play the same thing at twice the speed. Ok, so that is a totally valid technique but what about countermelody or sub-plot that adds conversation to a piece? It felt like a slap in the face at that point and not a build from a player who appears to be able to do far better.
I tried again a bit later by popping the whole album on whilst playing Crimsonland (for extreme monster killing) in hope that the two would mesh a bit better. By about halfway through the first track I was again being wound up more than entertained. In-between waves of monsters with a deathwish, I quickly turned the volume way below my normal listening position and soon found myself being able to key into the melodies and begin to enjoy the music as the details present could flow out.
Xavier seems to have fallen for the “modern” idea that more is more. LOUDER is better than LOUD. Once the lead lines can be extricated from the pummeling of bass & drums, everything improves. The music can start to breathe through the noise.
I still have frustration with the lack of narrative development in the pieces, especially seeing that this is clearly Rock of the more Progressive variety. That said even great Pop has narrative development and closure.
Comparison-wise again the obvious is with Joe Satriani. Please note I have exactly the same issues with the Satriani album I own. Xavier has a style to his melodies that is in-keeping with Gary Moore. Moore was a master of phrasing, timing and using subtly of emotion to build the power in his pieces instead of just being harder, faster, louder. I also can’t help but be reminded of the lesser-known self-titled Deep Purple III album (that briefly had a real Bosch cover) and particularly the first track “Chasing Shadows” as that manages to balance its dense elements so well (way back in 1969).
This review isn’t exactly glowing I know and I hope you are using your own judgment to decide if this is a keeper for you. With more listens over time, familiarity helps me hear the unique parts of the compositions better which are good but my initial comments still stand.
I would really like to hear Xavier take stock of his obvious talent and to step past the surface skills he has into the real magic of timeless music. If he can do that I hope to give a rave review to his next release (if he dares to send it over).