Ultime Atome

Dark Visions

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Ultime Atome's Dark Visions is a painful example of highly derivative progressive rock, one of the most excessively theatrical kind. The main, almost exclusive reference point here is the Marillion of Script for a Jester's Tear and "Grendel." Singer Jean-Marc Tesorio emulates Fish's every vocal trick -- including his switching between middle and falsetto registers, his overemphasized theatrics, and his pronunciation. The latter point hurts. Tesorio is French; he can copy Fish as much as he wants, but he can only sound like a fake Scotsman, especially when he repeatedly pronounces the "w" in "sword" like a first-year English-as-second-language student right in the bombastic finale of the epic track "Battlefield." The lyrics contain overlong lines full of difficult words to sing ("pernicious," "enslavement," "matriarchy," "ignominious") that force the singer to butcher his melodic lines in order to fit everything in. "Battlefield," 22 minutes long, tells the tale of a black elf and the Child of Light's battle against the God Dragon. This plot alone illustrates the third-rate derivative nature of the music. If the musicianship was stellar, one could forgive the lack of originality, but the rhythm section tends to be clumsy in the slower sections (uneven time-keeping) and the complex passages (in the bridge of "Eternal Warrior" in particular). Sorry, but this is the kind of album that gives prog rock a bad name.

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