French musician Charly Sahona is mostly known for his band Venturia; a band where he combines progressive metal with female vocals and his own. He also recorded a solo album under his own name; Naked Thoughts From A Silent Chaos in 2010 and now he is returning to the scene with a new band/project Sahona. Here Charly is responsible for all the writing, production, keyboards, guitars and all the vocals. Further participating comes from countrymen Fabien Paraillac on guitars, Cédric Artaxet on bass and drummer Stéphane Cavanez. On the 2016 self-titled debut his musical journey takes him to new directions.
Musically Sahona has taken a step back from the technical progressive metal of Venturia and the focus seems to go to the intelligent compositions, which sound pretty accessible and remain in a solid mid-tempo. The songs are written with bands like The Pineapple Thief in mind, but also Anathema and Katatonia must have been an influence. And during Fires Of Passion you can clearly hear Steven Wilson's influence in the vocal parts. The songs on this album are quite compact, just A Modern Sleeping Beauty exceeds the five minutes mark. This song is a nicely built composition where Charly's smooth vocals are accompanied by fine powerful guitar riffs that perfectly balance the song. Sahona sees a number of highlights, like opener Light Of Day, Sense Of Life, which emphasises the melodramatic side of Sahona's music and immediately leaves a very positive first impression. On This Winter Night also has a kind of catchiness, that perhaps goes for the majority of the songs; songs that will be remembered. Take Little Jack, a song that has a nice vibe that in parts reminds me of White Wedding by Billy Idol. I'm Alive is another pretty interesting song that is built on strong keyboard parts and intense vocals. The powerful midsection, including solo, perfectly fits to the song.
Charly's soloing, is something that must be discussed before ending this review. At first I was very impressed by the composition on Sahona, but when the guitar solos passed by, my first thoughts were, these solos were not really suiting to the songs; ultra-high speed solos in a mid-tempo song? Are the solos just there to show Charly's guitar skills? I had my doubts there. Still, after several spins, my conclusion is that the solos do fit and are quite virtuoso. Sometimes reminding me of Guns And Roses' former guitar player Ron Thal's escapades on the fretboard.
In the end Sahona turns out to be an album I really like and will play more often on my stereo. Charly's compositions are as catchy as impressive and the French accent during the vocal parts do give this production something special.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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