It’s been seven years since Phideaux Xavier has released a new album since 2011’s Snowtorch. I’ve already have a huge admiration of this band along with Xavier’s work since discovering their music back in the first of the series of Romantic Warriors: A Progressive Music Saga released in 2010 by filmmakers Jose Zegarra Holder and Adele Schmidt.
This year, they’ve released their ninth studio on the Bloodfish label entitled, Infernal. Now for me, I nearly had forgotten about Phideaux’s music, but when I heard he was releasing a new album this year, I knew that the door was always opened to see and hear what he was cooking throughout those years.
This is a conclusion of his trilogy which began with 2006’s The Great Leap and 2007’s Doomsday Afternoon. So when I was listening to Infernal, I can imagine Phideaux is finally relieved completed the three stories and it is him finally reaching the light at the end of the tunnel. Back in 2011 when I compared Snowtorch as an alternate soundtrack to the 1976 cult classic Logan’s Run, I now compare Infernal as a score to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
The artwork done by Phideaux member Molly Rutten, captures the similarities of Alphataurus sole self-titled 1973 debut, Le Orme’s Uomo Di Pezza, and King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King. The subject throughout the entire album tackles the situations of Fear, Terror, and Hope. From the pounding sections between guitar and piano on The Error Lives On, gives us a greeting for more bad news of giving the descriptions for bigger problems and it isn’t looking too good.
The rhythm tips its hat to Jethro Tull’s A Passion Play as Phideaux and Valerie take the listener to task on the danger and asking the questions on if they had given the news to them or not. On Crumble, Valerie Gracious sings this beautiful piece as if her character is getting close to dying in the streets as the war rages on as she gives us the last rite before she closes her eyes and going into the afterlife.
The door opens more to the dystopian atmospheric landscape on the opening track, Cast Out and Cold as the vocals and organ sets up the nightmare. The guitars and vocals come rising up as if opening up more of where we have left off in Huxley’s sci-fi classic. There are some elements between Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain, King Crimson’s first two albums, and Alice Cooper’s Welcome to my Nightmare. And not only that they work well, but it gives you some details that the pieces of the puzzle begin to come as one.
We Only Have Eyes For You runs us through the disaster through the rubble. With the watery effects of the vocal arrangements of “You Better, You Better Run.”, you have these medieval keyboard sections, acoustic and electric guitars racing through the doors to escape the chaos, but big brother himself will always keep an eye on them, no matter what if they don’t want to be controlled or owned by the city that is near the brink of collapse.
Pino Rucher’s spacey structures on Wake the Sleeper becomes a deep, dark, and lonely space as Phideaux’s vocals gives us the situation that there’s no sign of escape. Now I don’t want to go into spoiler detail, but with Tumbleweed, which is sung in the melody of Doomsday Afternoon’s version of Crumble, the puzzle suddenly matches each of the pieces one by one.
The 14-minute composition of From Hydrogen to Love has this militant rhythm in the style of Gustav Holst’s Mars: The Bringer of War, throws in some aspects of The Beatles, Muse, Morgan’s Nova Solis, and Banco’s Darwin-era. It is a roller-coaster ride to some unexpected moments that shows Phideaux has done his homework going from hard, Italian Prog, Baroque Pop, to a teensy-bit of some cookie-monster vocals which I might think it happens near the midsection for a couple of seconds.
But here's my take on Phideaux's new album. This is now my 14th time listening to Infernal. And it’s a welcoming return for Phideaux. This album has grown on me even more. While the trilogy has come full circle, I hope one of these days Phideaux turns the trilogy into either a graphic novel or a video game to bring the images to life. Is it too late to say that Infernal is going to be the album of the year so far? Let’s just wait and see.