Last year the Canadian band Karcius got a well deserved five stars review for their fifth studio album. For me personally they created a true masterpiece
Something which I didn't expect at all from this band. Because you have to know that Karcius was previously known as a prog-fusion band, which stylistically also applies to the music which you can find on their first three studio albums. Their music was fine but never really got my interest completely. But they are one of the bands that has developed further and could expand their sound by a few facets. This may be due to the fact that half of the band, which started in 2004, is no longer there. Currently the band consists of the founding members Thomas Brodeur on drums and Simon L'Espérance on guitars. Bassist and lead singer Sylvain Auclair has been in the band since the 2012 album The First Day. Finally, Hamadryad keyboard player Sebastian Cloutier joined the band for the recording of their latest studio album. A true dream team if I may say so! Well this dream team released this year Live In France on Blu-ray and a double CD. A real treat. I will tell you why!
On this release you will find the complete recordings of one of their live performances, recorded August 18th, 2018 at the Crescendo Festival in Saint-Palais-Sur-Mer. What the musicians did on the twentieth edition of the French Crescendo Festival is really outstanding.
First we have a look at the Blu-ray edition of this concert. This Blu-Ray reveals two fascinating shots. On the one hand, the absolutely professional concert recording from the festival, and on the other hand the digital 5.1 and stereo mix of the The Fold album. So you can experience the already great sounding album in a completely new listening version. Yes it sounds even more stunning than the compact disc version. Even more details are revealed this time around. So thumbs up for L'Espérance and Brodeur who were responsible for the excellent mixes.
The one and a half-hour concert is a true audio and picture experience. The 5.1 sound is also stunningly mixed and distributed to all speakers really well. It is clear in this case that the concert experience also becomes a real sound spectacle. The band is in great shape and performs the complete The Fold album and also be performed additional pieces from their previous albums - such as Sol, Incident and Purple King from the 2008 album Episodes and Water, Hypnotic and Hardwired from the 2012 album The First Day. Only too bad the concept album wasn't done as one entire piece of music. It is separated in two parts. The first three tracks can be enjoyed at the start of the show. The final three closes the set. Which moods they wanted to convey with this concept album becomes clear from the film recordings, which accompany the music throughout the entire duration of the album. It shows the gloomy black and white images of a decaying house. The music moves between the melancholic-atmospheric progressive rock and the heavier music, labelled as hard rock or progmetal.
Actually, everything fits in well with this concert, except that the band has to start their performance in daylight. A daytime festival performance, at the beginning, is probably not ideal for conveying the special moods of The Fold. But the scenery becomes more suitable with the passage of time: during the performance, the sun slowly sets and after the first three songs from The Fold were performed, it's finally dark outside and the show gets even more intimate.
What to say about the musicians on stage? Bassist Auclair proves to be a sovereign central figure, because he knows how to convince both vocally and on his instrument. A special mentioning goes out to keyboarder Cloutier, for his extroverted stage performance. But everything he does still remains highly virtuoso. Also, L'Espérance turns out to be a true guitar hero for me with his excellent style of playing on his instrument. Brodeur maybe doesn't always have a place in the spotlights, it doesn't mean he is less important hitting his drum kit. And in this perfect unit the band delivers a very entertaining mix of different styles. Although the prog-fusion sounds that were favoured in the early days also appear, they also incorporate prog metal phases as well as atmospheric progressive rock passages. All in all a great mix of styles the band delivers on stage in front of a rather large audience.
And if the concert footage just isn't enough for you, there is still the choice to put the entire soundtrack into your car sound system. Without the images of the musicians and the people in front of them you are more focused on the music. The audio on the two discs is very good and a real pleasure to listen to. You can hear that the music is rawer compared to the cleaner studio versions of the songs performed. The first disc almost lasts one complete hour and this means you can drive a rather long distance. And if this isn't long enough you still have the second disc to your disposal. Just drive to a parking place and change the disc in your CD player for another almost 45 minutes of musical pleasure. First you have the final part of the Crescendo Festival before the two extras finish the disc. First you get a studio track with the title The Space Between. Followed by an acoustic version of Water.
As you can read above, it took me a lot of words to explain what to expect on this 2CD/ Blu-ray live release of Live In France. And if you are still not convinced that this is a real treat for your eyes and ears, I'll you have to advise you to add it to your progressive rock collection. I guess you will not be disappointed. This release is highly recommended just like The Fold was highly recommended. Therefore, only the highest rating can be giving to this superb live release. The five stars are very well in place for this true live masterpiece. The best live release of 2019! Without any doubt!
***** Henri Strik (edited by Dave Smith)
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