In 2010, the French prog trio Delusion Squared recorded their eponymous debut album (see review). Back then our reviewer rated the album with three stars. However, the vocals deserved no more than a zero which finally resulted in a score of one star and a half. Sure, Lorraine Young's rather fragile voice with little variety isn't everyone's cup of tea. It was certainly one of the weakest points on their debut, which was worth listening to, that is, if you could handle the weak vocals. Music wise Delusion Squared has enough to offer. Guitarist-keyboardist-drummer Steven Francis and bassist-keyboardist Emmanuel de Saint Meen are capable of playing interesting prog rock music. On their debut these musicians added many elements from different genres to their music, like touches of metal but mainly crossover and eclectic elements. Their first album also benefits from a slick production and carries a great sci-fi theme making it an interesting conceptual work.
Now two years later the trio continues to philosophy on the apocalyptic theme. II is another intriguing concept album from a band with a flair for modern prog rock. This time the main character in the story is a high priestess of the Holy Mother Church. The story is divided into several episodes which provide the musicians all the room to use a diverse sound palette and especially a fine blend of prog rock with folk, pop and slight elements of metal. The angelic vocals of Lorraine Young perfectly fit this musical concept. However, it has to be said that a bit more variation wouldn't have harmed anybody. The female vocals mostly refer to the music of bands as The Reasoning, Panic Room and Touchstone.
The first album maintained an ethereal and atmospheric approach that worked well with the vocal abilities of Lorraine Young, but this one adds a slick and jarring edge of synthesized keyboards and heavy melodic guitar riffs. The sound shows impressive development and progression compared to the first album. Despite some heavy guitar work the album sounds very melodic and accessible. Apart from the piano the keyboards are very synthesizer driven creating atmospheric soundscapes and textures most of the time; this makes it sound like a modern prog album without any weak tracks, but without containing any highlights either. All songs sound well-balanced in the overall concept.
For their second album Delusion Squared recorded nicely balanced prog rock with a fresh and contemporary sound. They captured a modern crossover prog rock sound which will appeal to both pop and metal fans. This style of music is gaining popularity these days. It's rather accessible music for the more mainstream prog devotees!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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