Sodom & Gomorra XXI is billed as a solo album from Albert Khalmurzayev (aka Al-Bird), but the two other thirds of his group X-Religion provide the rhythm section for this progressive rock extravaganza. Hailing from Uzbekistan, Khalmurzayev has written this album in the form of a progressive rock symphony in four movements. A choreographed version has been presented in Tashkent by the Youth Theatre of Uzbekistan (the composer's hometown) in 2001 or 2002. A strange beast, "Sodom & Gomorra XXI" covers a lot of musical ground, from symphonic prog rock to heavy metal by way of Jean-Michel Jarre. Multi-tracked keyboards provide the bulk of the instrumentation. Vitaly Meshikov and Val Vorobiov form a solid rhythm section, but the use of electronic drums pushes the music deeper into synthesized territory. The composer is not always subtle in his use of influences. The third section of the first movement is a rip-off of Pink Floyd's "Great Gig in the Sky" and "Echoes," while other sections strongly recall Mike Oldfield, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, even Nirvana. It remains unclear if these are meant as tributes. In the fourth movement the artist jumps from sample to sample in a dizzying music survey: the Doors, the Sex Pistols, and Nirvana meet Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, and Jaco Pastorius. This finale makes little sense, but what came before had its share of strong moments. Yet the piece lacks a clear direction and a personality that would transcend its many sources of inspiration -- make the sum greater than its parts. And as long as movement and sub-section titles are provided with their respective durations, splitting the piece into a number of tracks would have been better than dumping it all into one 50-minute track.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture