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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Baron Crâne

Commotions

Review by Gary Hill

This French act has produced an inventive and powerful album. Three of the five songs are instrumentals. It’s a safe bet that there will be arguments about it landing under progressive rock, but I can’t see it going anywhere else. Sure, there is a lot of metal here, but overall this is incredibly proggy. It’s constantly changing and references things like Rush, Dream Theater and King’s X at times. Whatever you call this, it’s a special album. In fact, it might make my list of “best of 2020” releases by the time the year is over. It’s definitely going to be a contender. 

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.
Track by Track Review
Firmin
Lush keyboard textures bring this number into being. The tune powers out from there to a frantic hard rocking prog jam that calls to mind Dream Theater. It drops back after a time to a rhythm section dominated movement. The cut continues to evolve instrumentally from there. There are returns to the frantic hard rocking stuff. There are more mellower, more melodic movements, too. A section later features funky bass with trippy keyboard elements over the top. They work things out from there into a killer fusion jam. It turns almost metallic after that with a return to fierce and frantic jamming. This instrumental remains hard rocking and driving to the end.
Acid Rains (feat Arthur Brossard)
Mellow and rather dark sounds open this. The cut rises out to a prog jam that calls to mind something like a moody King’s X a bit. The vocals almost add to that impression. After the first vocal section this fires out into a screaming hot jam that has Rush merged with that King’s X thing. The chorus that comes in after that has an alternative rock vibe that actually reminds me a bit of the rather obscure Canadian Lovecraftian band Darkest of the Hillside Thickets. This works through a number of changes, getting into some pretty fierce zones at times. There is a lot of that King’s X thing here for quite a bit of the track’s duration. There are some seriously furious and metallic sections, too, though. This thing is on fire at times. Yet it also manages to drop to mellower bluesy stuff.
Closing Door
There is rather low volume rocking mode that starts this. The cut fires out from there to frantic and intense metallic jamming. This is another that’s positively incendiary. The cut keeps shifting and changing as it drives along. It works toward mellower zones that seem to merge an almost bluesy rock sound with fusion. Still, it fires back out into prog turned metallic zones. This instrumental is a powerhouse that is very dynamic. There are things that make me think of Rush here.
On rase les murs (feat I.N.C.H.)
With lyrics in French, this has  a crazed sound to it. It’s hard-edged, driving and bizarre. Yet, it’s also compelling and powerful. This one is sure to send the prog purists running for the exits, but it’s a powerhouse well worth checking out.
Fifth Stone
There are keyboard type textures at the start of this. The cut works out to frantic hard-edged jamming from there. This is a fiery dynamic rocker that just keeps reinventing as it drives onward. The number works through all kinds of changes, turning to ward some mellower trippiness later that has elements of psychedelia and metal merged together. This instrumental is another strong entry and a great closer, moving almost toward doom metal at points.
 
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