Julien Martinoia is a French multi-instrumentalist who apparently made a couple of albums before (most of which you can download from his website - sorry go check it out!), but this is my first encounter with his work. I expected instrumental guitar work, instead I was surprised by modern heavy (prog) rock/metal. The music on this disc is mostly song based and not too flashy. There is no display of muscles like Dream Theater; rather we find elements of song based gothic metal - without grunts or female singers, however. Julien sings okay, sometimes on the roughish side, keeping mostly to the safe mid-range and with only minor accents audible.
The album starts with the longest track, Leave You Now, which shows that there is clear potential with regard to songwriting, variation and performance, but it also shows the limitations. The song doesn't drag you along, it feels a bit schematic and standard and the vocals are rather flat. A great singer might have lifted this above average, maybe even the simple backing of a female singer might have done wonders. But even that wouldn't have changed the programmed static feel of the rhythm.
No Destination is a rather interesting piece because there is a sound in there that even sounds like violin, but I'm afraid this comes either from the keys or (more likely) the guitar. But I could imagine a slightly Kansas-like arrangement here that would fit well.
The dark and threatening The Road might very well be my favourite track. At first it leans strongly towards Pink Floyd and then adds elements from gothic metal.
My Victory continues in the realm of gothic metal, only now taking the poppier song based side as point of departure and delivering an upbeat and rather fast-paced song that would have done well when performed by Lacuna Coil or Leaves Eyes and the likes.
The next piece, It Can't Be Enough, brings an eerie and because of the keys rather icy feeling. Good thing that the brooding cello (can't say if it's real or from a box) brings some warmth, as do the vocals that are pretty suiting and good on this piece.
The weakest link is left to last. Saying that Already The End is somewhat off-key is an understatement. I played it twice, or rather once and a half because I switched it off the second time. Do yourself a favour and listen to the rest of the CD, but not that piece. Well, okay, maybe once (and rest assured, there is much worse to be found, so just go ahead).
**+ Carsten Busch (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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