[Review] Medea – A Fate Symphony

Medea is the solo project of guitarist/keyboardist Henry Meeuws from Casual Silence, with whom he has proposed over the years albums with always sought-after contents, ranging from Progressive sounds, with sound interlacing between Symphonic and Heavy. From 2002 to today, the artist has released 4 albums under the moniker Medea, the last of which is “A Fate Symphony,” a Rock Opera in the form of a concept based on the theme of epilepsy and the Dutch history of the eradication of Catholicism. Released on March 6, 2020 by Snakebite Records, it contains 10 compositions by Henry Meeuws ranging from 2:54 to 9:54 minutes and is available on CD and Digital. As in previous works, the artist makes use of the collaboration of some guests, completing the lineup with drum, bass, clarinet, 9 singers who play as many characters and a choir of 4 elements. The “Seizures” opener that begins with electronic keyboard sounds with powerful guitar riffs and a tight rhythmic session, full of tempo changes. The sound concept that characterizes the Medea project is summed up perfectly in this piece, Symphonic traits intertwine with the more Heavy component. The vocal is of a high level with a strong and very well interpreted singing, adapting to the various situations that the piece offers with more aggressive moments and others more melodic. The keyboards guide the sound, with the power of the guitar riffs, catapulting us and immediately involving us in what are the Heavy Prog atmospheres that will characterize the whole concept. Voices of children playing characterize the intro of “Traces of a Fate Symphony,” and then develop a theme made of soft and sweet melodies between guitar, piano and flute. The vocal is warm and expressive, with the piece acquiring intensity with the passing of the minutes, so the singing also becomes more powerful, creating good vocal layers, sometimes choral. The second part is decidedly more Heavy and intricate, with excellent phrasing between keyboards and guitar, which draws a good solo. The main theme then returns with the last vocal stanzas and the piece closes. “To Change History” begins with a powerful interweaving of synths and massive guitar riffs, the bass lines are penetrating and accelerated. The vocal, as always one of the strengths, alternates an aggressive male vocal to the choirs, adapting to the music as best as possible, here too the intensity increases with the passage of the piece. The keyboards and the guitar dialogue at their best, with tight sounding plots, while the rhythmic session is always dizzying, with the song showing the more Metal inclination of Medea. “Regression” features a melancholic piano arpeggio and vocal, to which is soon added a soft rhythmic session and punctual and precise electric guitar inserts. In the second part the guitar draws a pleasant and long solo, which guides us to the finale where the piece closes with a short piano arpeggio. “Chest Without Books” with a more intricate structure and rich in tempo changes, where the melodies are more powerful with excellent interweaving between keyboards and electric guitar. The vocal alternates solo moments with other choirs, while the rhythmic session is tight and very elaborate, and in the second part the piece becomes softer with sweet guitar melodies. The sound of a door opening and “Hungarian Dance” kicks off, revisiting Brahams’ Hungarian Dance in a Prog key, demonstrating the excellent technique and quality of the musicians involved. “Blood Countess” has a guitar-driven melodic structure, with powerful riffs and keyboard interlacing over a massive rhythm session. The singing alternates male and female voices, powerful and expressive, adapting best to the changes in intensity that the piece presents. In the second part the guitar and keyboards interchange in a tight solo, and then the vocal returns for the last verses and closes. “Nova Zembla (Third Time’s a Charm)” which begins with atmospheric noises and a sweet melody on the guitar, a pleasant and soft vocal that mixes lead and choral voices. With the entry of the instruments, the intensity increases and the piece is elaborated with Progressive variations of the theme and positive melodies guided by the keyboards, an excellent symphonic piece with quality instrumental evolutions. “Orange’s Brides” is more powerful and aggressive, with the tight rhythmic session that at times flows into Metal with the use of the double pedal. The female voice alternates with choruses, on layers of tstiere and heavy guitar riffs, recalling the sounds of groups such as Dream Theater, with the addition of an operatic vocal. At the end, a good guitar solo, before the last verse that leads us to the closing. The album ends with the longest track “Murderer or Martyr” with pompous and dark melodies at the beginning and then evolving into a Prog Rock with a positive atmosphere with the entry of the vocals. Symphonic traits and valuable keyboard incursions, alternating with more Heavy openings, between high-level tempo changes. An excellent conclusion for a high-level work, which enhances the technique and quality of all the artists involved. As always, Henry Meeuws succeeds in his intent to merge symphonic traits with forays into the heavier territories of Prog, making use of the collaboration of high-level artists. The compositions are very well structured, with technically high-level passages and tempo changes, giving space to the artist’s excellent ideas. An album recommended for all lovers of Prog music, where, as always, the influences of the past blend with the artist’s many original and personal ideas, which confirms the Medea project as one of the best in the recent scene.

Tracklist

1. Seizures (6:05)
2. Traces of a Fate Symphony (7:59)
3. To Change History (5:27)
4. Regression (5:31)
5. Chest Without Books (5:58)
6. Hungarian Dance (2:54)
7. Blood Countess (4:38)
8. Nova Zembla (Third Time’s a Charm) (7:49)
9. Orange’s Brides (5:36)
10. Murderer or Martyr (9:53)

Lineup

Henry Meeuws (Casual Silence) / Guitars, Keyboards, Piano

With:
Igor Koopmans / Drums
Frank de Groot / Bass
Iris Gilsing / Clarinet
Bart Schwertmann / Vocals as Lucas
John ‘Jaycee’ Cuijpers / Vocals as Dr. Istvan Kohary
Bas Dolmans / Vocals as Hugo Grotius
Sandra Peeters / Vocals as Maria van Reigersberch
Robbie van Stiphout / Vocals as Gyorgy Thurzo
Noor van der Voort / Vocals as Erzsebet Bathory
Ernst Le Cocq d’Armandville / Vocals as Willem Barentsz
Joss Mennen / Vocals as Balthasar Gerard
Jo de Boeck / Vocal as Gerrit de Veer & Crew
Marloes Kooter, Babz Verhoeven, Josien Obers, Inge van Asseldonk / Choir as Orange’s Brides

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Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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