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CD Reviews: Virgil Franklin, Karcius, Kopecky, Nox Arcana and LeAnn Rimes

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The plan was for me to clear my decks of the various instrumental albums I have to review. It seems I am being seen as open to them and have been getting quite a few. Fortunately, this week we do not suffer from anything like the tedious instrumental offerings I have reviewed in the past. In fact, there is really something for everyone in this lot

CD Reviews

Virgil Franklin: Dark Hollow

With a name like Dark Hollow you don't expecting something cheery and happy now do you? And it is not the case with this 11 song collection of creepy arse symphonic music. This does strike one as the soundtrack to a horror movie you have never heard. It has all the right elements; creepy piano and atmospheric touches really set the mood for it all.

Much in the style of Nox Arcana, and unlike some other of this type, it never gets boring or tiresome. There is plenty here for the b-movie slasher flicks as well as the Cthulhu-fans looking for backing music for their next Call of Cthulhu game. In short this is perfect soundtrack to your next All Hallow's Eve party. Good stuff.

Karcius: Kaleidescope

It's Quebec neo-jazz/prog. Oh dear, one has to think this might not be an easy listen. And one would be wrong. While not the most exciting stuff in the world for us heavy rockers, it does the very edgy and jazzy side of Dream Theater and their ilk with touches of Spyro Gyra as well.

This is jazz fusion with a touch of prog. The songs on here blend into each other and produce a soothing soundtrack, though I would not recommend driving to it. I found myself drifting off to near-sleep when I had this on the stereo; it is that mellow and relaxing. Check out "Epilogue" if you don't believe me. It's not exactly heavy or rocking but pleasant nonetheless.

Kopecky: Blood

First thing that came to mind on hearing this disc was Voivod without vocals and slightly less avant-garde. Kopecky is certainly prog-metal and quite good as well. There are serious shades of Dream Theater and OSI. I did find myself missing vocals at times but that might be my quirk.

The musicianship on this seven tracker is first rate and classy. This bunch of Americans has toured with prog powerhouses like Spock's Beard, Flower Kings, Uriah Heep and Planet X. If you like your prog instrumental albums then this will be up your street. It's quite enjoyable and never gets tedious which is high praise for any instrumental album of whatever type.

Nox Arcana: Carnival of Lost Souls

Another first rate collection of creepy symphonic music from Nox Arcana as I suspect best exemplified by "Storm" an 11:28 epic of nasty proportions. Most of the rest of the tracks are under 3 minutes; ie perfect for incidental music in any soundtrack. Good music like this makes you wonder if you have heard it before somewhere and this release is no different.

The common theme throughout the CD's 21 tracks is the Circus Diabolique, a carnival which only returns once every century. Needless to say if you are already a fan, this is essential. If you consider yourself a fan of symphonic soundtrack music of the creepy kind, then this is a good place to start with the band.

LeAnn Rimes: Greatest Hits

I purchased this CD for my betrothed as she has a similar, if slightly lower, voice than Ms Rimes. What I forgot is this is the international greatest hits so it's a bit light on the country and far heavier with her "mainstream hits." So we have Miss Rimes singing with Elton John and Ronan Keating on a couple of dire M.O.R. tracks. It does however have the right catchy "Can't Fight the Moonlight" (as well as a not horrid Latin remix) and the impressive "How Do I Live" which was such a big hit worldwide for Ms Rimes. (Argue amongst yourselves who sang the best version of this song.)

She does do a few Country tunes on here with a decent version of "Crazy," "Blue," and a rather fun cover of "One Way Ticket." The rest of the tracks on here do not show off Rimes' voice to its full extent. While not as bad as when Opera singer Charlotte Church tried her hand at pop, this is pretty dire when you know how good Ms Rimes can be on record. Oh well, guess I best wait to buy Country singers albums in the US.

I just had to review something with vocals on it and LeAnn Rimes was the closest to hand. Next week I promise to head back to vocal-full head banging with new releases from Kory Clarke of Warrior Soul fame, Body Count's new one, and Dissection's final gig on DVD.

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