Phideaux - Doomsday Afternoon
Bloodfish Music
Progressive Rock
10 songs (66:59)
Release year: 2007
Reviewed by Bar
Archive review

Phideaux Xavier is a man for whom music is truly a labour of love. I feel as though I can say that without the slightest hint of rhetoric because despite the fact that he is a clearly a very talented composer, I know he doesn’t make his living through his music. No, even though Phideaux has crafted some of the most beautiful and grandiose music of the last few decades, he supports himself with a day job just like the rest of us. As a result, his albums have all been self-released through his personal label, and these are facts which simply further my amazement that this man’s music could be as deeply layered and emotionally resonant as it is. Although he had already released several rock-oriented albums of impressive quality, it wasn’t until 2007 and the arrival of Doomsday Afternoon that he truly announced himself to the Progressive Rock faithful.

This is Progressive Rock the way it was meant to be, free from the shackles of standard song structures and completely uninhibited by commercial concerns, yet still perfectly accessible to the casual listener. The sound is rooted in the space rock of Pink Floyd, but although the influence is clear, Phideaux does have his own style which is decidedly more modern. By the time 10 minute opener Micro Softdeathstar has finished weaving its way through your brain, with its many twists and intricacies, you will know for certain that Phideaux simply writes the songs that his fulfil his heart’s desires, and that there isn’t one iota of pretence about it - it’s just the music he would want to hear. Following directly is the instrumental piece The Doctrine of Eternal Ice (Part I) with its audacious (yet highly appropriate) use of synthesizers and its immediately mesmerizing guitar melodies. Even at this early stage of the album, I challenge any fan of Progressive Rock not to become completely enraptured. I want to describe the music as epic, but somehow that word doesn’t quite do the sound justice. Perhaps majestic is a more fitting descriptor.

It doesn’t take long with this album to discover that Phideaux has a very exceptional gift for melodies, both instrumental and vocal. What’s most impressive on this album is the way he weaves the melodies into recurring themes from track to track. The most obvious example is The Eternal Doctrine of Ice (Part II) which takes the melody from Part I and recreates it with a completely and utterly different arrangement, with its own distinct pace and atmosphere, just different enough that it seems like a whole new song again. What might not be so evident on the first listen is that melodies recur in this way throughout the entirety of the album, ingeniously inserted into tracks without ever seeming unnatural. This approach culminates in the mind-blowing final track, Microdeath Softstar which incorporates melodies and themes from every single track on the album, blended together so masterfully it seems they were always meant to be that way.

In terms of vocal performance, I must admit Phideaux’s voice has a timbre that is, shall we say, somewhat unique. It will probably take a little bit of getting used to. To his credit, he knows the limitations of his voice and he understand how best to use it. Even if you hate it at first, it’s not a stretch to suggest that you might grow to love it. His band also features several terrific female vocalists who not only perform back-up but also share lead vocal duties with him across the whole album, and the combination makes for some rich harmonies that are simply breathtaking. In all, a truly magnificent album. I would consider it easily the best Progressive Rock album of the last two decades, if not for the incredible follow up that Phideaux would release two years later…

Killing Songs :
Every track is glorious
Bar quoted 96 / 100
Other albums by Phideaux that we have reviewed:
Phideaux - Number Seven reviewed by Bar and quoted 97 / 100
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