Once in a while, reviewing, you are handed something completely unknown, which turns out to be real progressive rock gem. I guess Ashes Of A Dairy of Dreaming Madmen belongs to this category. Dreaming Madmen is a duo formed by two Lebanese brothers; vocalist, guitarist and keyboard player Mathew Aboujaoude and bass player, vocalist and keyboard player Christopher Aboujaoude. The two brothers are now based in Austin USA but the album is recorded in their hometown Deir El Harf, Lebanon. Besides the brothers, the album sees the participation of Caelin Tralongo on vocals, Rohan Sharma on synths and drummer, percussionist Ian Geyer. The album Ashes Of A Diary shows a concept that delves into the psyche of an elderly man, who discovers an old journal of his, filled with writings detailing a life of pain, obsession, love, hatred and regret.
When you start listening to the album's opener; the instrumental Page One, I guess you instantly notice the Pink Floyd reference. For the purists, perhaps it sounds like blasphemy, others will enjoy this fine opening of the album. Behind My Wall continues. An instant catchy progressive rock composition with great vocals and fine instrumentation. Due to Mathew's vocals, some Porcupine Tree resemblance is obvious. The perfect keyboards soloing, which take you back to Pink Floyd again, contra the guitar solos do make the difference with subtle oriental influences. With Your Possessor the Porcupine Tree resemblance becomes denser, but the female vocals definitely gives the track a certain twist to make it “something of their own”. Lock Thyself again shows the love for both bands previously mentioned, though adding their own twist. Enigma takes a step away from the aforementioned influences and adds a nice Led Zeppelin riff to this powerful haunting instrumental, which ends with a Gary Moore style solo. The album's title track Ashes Of A Diary gives me the idea the vocal parts are sung by RPWL's Yogi Lang. The smooth vocals resemble the German Pink Floyd adept very close. I guess the same goes for the final composition Final Page. Which basically is a compilation of influences of the bands mentioned above.
After listening to Ashes Of A Diary the first couple of times I wrote the intro of the review as shown above. Now, several listens later I have to come back on that statement. Although Dreaming Madmen delivered a pretty impressive album, I now think they stick much too close to their influences. So close, several parts of songs, you can immediately recognize as a dedicated part of a Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Led Zeppelin or Porcupine Tree composition. Nevertheless, I do like the album, but I would like to hear more of the brother's own music on a successor.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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