PHI - Cycles

(CD 2018, CD 47:28 Gentle Art Of Music GAON 055)

The tracks:
  1- Children Of The Rain(8:54)
  2- Dystopia(8:50)
  3- In The Name Of Freedom(7:25)
  4- Amber(7:38)
  5- Existence(6:52)
  6- Blackened Rivers(7:43)

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Since the quite impressive previous live album Waves Over Vienna (2015, see review) I tried to keep an eye on the band and was hoping for a follow-up in the form of a new studio album. So I was very pleased to find a nice wallet holding Cycles on my doormat. Since the live album there were some changes in the line-up; mastermind, vocalist and guitar player Markus Bratusa added guitarist Stefan Helige to the band's line-up. Remaining bass player Arthur Darnhoffer-Demar contributed to the new album, but chose to leave the band shortly after his recording finished. Nick Koch, who is a former band member returns on Cycles not only as a drummer, but also as keyboard player and backing vocalist.

Children Of The Rain opens this album, immediately grabbing your full attention. This track is mesmerizing, groovy and filled with a melodic combination of nasty riffs and Markus intriguing vocals. A solid, catchy, progressive song where the alternative guitars are highlighted. The smooth keyboard driven part towards the end paves the way for an über catchy riff. Dystopia gives you a similar intensity, Markus vocal parts are melodic at one point, nice and rough on the other. Here the atmospheric element is combined with solid playing and again a dedicated voice that kind a sticks in my head. Nice and powerful, that's In The Name Of Freedom. Like on all six tracks on the album, which all clock over seven minutes; nah, Existence is just under the seven minutes mark, In The Name Of Freedom is a fairly long track that holds extended spheric parts. Combined with an almost djenty guitar, this works really well for the song. Lush keyboards and intense vocals mark the song Amber. these keyboards are delicately used and create a smooth atmosphere, the guitar solo finishes this track nicely. In a way I get a sort of Tesseract feel, when I listen to Existence; a prominent bass, a nice bed of keyboards, powerful drum parts and slow djenty guitar parts. Topped off with Markus fine vocal parts. The album's final track is called Blackened Rivers, more intensity, melodic versus power. Combined to perfection.

I was really looking forward to this album and it really beat my expectations. I totally love this album, great compositions, perfectly played. Markus found his Golden Ratio.

****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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