For professional bands that take their music seriously it's very important to have an excellent singer in the line-up. This applies even more when the other band members are musically well-educated. However, there have always been a lot of bands that suffered from mediocre or even bad singers; the French band Eye 2 Eye is just one of them. In 2009 I reviewed their second album After All... (see review). In my opinion they recorded a fantastic album containing music strongly related to neo-prog bands like Pendragon, Pallas, IQ and early Marillion. At the time I wrote that this album is a 'must have' for anyone who loves neo-progressive rock, but I also wrote that the new singer Jack Daly was the weakest link in the band. Although he didn't sing out of tune, his fierce voice not always fitted the music. Back then I wondered whether he would sing again on the band's next album or not.
Recently Eye 2 Eye released their third album The Wish, the band's first concept album inspired by Oscar Wilde's Picture Of Dorian Gray. While listening I noticed that I could again enjoy great neo-progressive rock. The many strong keyboard parts performed by Philippe Benabes and the many electric guitar solos by Amirouche Ali Benali make all tracks a real treat to listen to. Elise Bruckert's magical violin playing is a fine addition that lifts the music to a professional level. Unfortunately I noticed again that the lead vocals could have done much better. The information in the booklet showed that they probably took notice of my complaints and searched for a better vocalist. They actually found Djam Zaidi, but it's sadly to notice that the new singer's voice is again the weakest link. He isn't a bad singer either, but he sings the English lyrics with too much of a French accent. Certain passages really sound good, but after a while his voice starts to dominate the music. That's a shame because musically and compositionally Eye 2 Eye has so much to offer and this concept really gets an excellent soundtrack. All songs are a succession of highlights; they all sound together as a strong musical unity that lasts over 69 minutes. The story of Dorian Gray is told very well interlarded with sound fragments to provide the story a sense of reality.
Unfortunately this strong conceptual work again didn't get the voice it deserved. Otherwise I'd most likely rated this album with the highest rating of five stars. I think Eye 2 Eye have to go on a quest for a new lead singer once more in order to advance the high level of progressive rock that is needed to survive in this difficult genre. However, I will end my review positively, because undoubtedly The Wish is the best effort of this group to date. For prog rock devotees this album contains more than enough enjoyable moments.
****- Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2013