Lord of Mushrooms

Lord of Mushrooms

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Lord of Mushrooms' debut album is a strange item -- because it attempts to bring together opposite sides of the progressive rock universe, not because it succeeds or extirpates anything original from the idea. Melodies, lyrics, keyboards, and the vocal delivery of Julien Vallespi all point toward the neo-prog/prog metal paradigm, with Dream Theater, latter-day Marillion, and Spock's Beard's more straightforward songs in mind. On the other hand, Laurent James' guitar style owes to jazz-rock guitar hero Scott McGill and Philarmonie's Frédéric L'Épée. The instrumental sections often recall Echolyn and Finneus Gauge and a few are truly exciting -- "Coma" and "Void" in particular; "Afterlife" also has its moments -- but they are soon defused by uninspired choruses and bland lyrics. "Coma" is the true standout track, but it also happens to be the only instrumental one. The technical proficiency of these musicians is above reproach: the rhythm section of Julien Negro (bass) and Volodia Brice (drums) gets listeners through all the twists and turns of the songs, while Vallespi does a convincing job on vocals, despite muddy pronunciation. But it takes more than complex patterns and catchy melodies to make a good album. Complex for complexity's sake sounds labored, catchy turns easily into tacky, and in the end, Lord of Mushrooms leaves listeners with only a few good minutes to grasp.

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