Reviewed by MJBrady on 13 Jun 2005
On Hamadryads' second release - Safe in Conformity, there are some obvious differences musically to their well received debut cd - Conservation of Mass, a cd that made a solid impression on the unsuspecting prog culture. The band has a more tapered sound having had to realign their focus without their former lead singer - Jocelyn Beaulieu, who's unique vocals graced the bands first outing giving them a unique sound.
On the new cd, they have maintained their progressivity and stay the way of progressive rock, but the heavier moments from the first cd seem to have all but disappeared, Conservation of Mass dabbled into the hard rock, almost progressive metal side of prog, without really being metal. Similar to how a band like Rush was able to do. It seems now that the band has adopted more of what were the mellower moments on the first cd, kind of neo-progressive, with a lot of hints towards the Hackett/Gabriel era Genesis.
I wouldn't have ever guessed that a singers departure from a band would have effected the musical aspects of the band's identity, but in this case, they have come up with an entirely new feel to their style. A lot of acoustical guitars, retro analogue keyboards dominate the musical terrain, and the singing, now being done by Jean-François, is far more docile, he sings in a safe manner, giving the impression of a Collins/Gabriel style singer. In some ways I get the feeling that this cd by Hamadryad is a lot like what happened when Neil Morse left Spock's Beard, the band continued in his absence, and stayed true to their progressive roots, but now are a different and perhaps different band without him.
It's not until late on the cd that we hear the heavier style of Hamadryad, on a short little song called - One Voice, and while short it is enough to remind me of what I really liked about their first cd. I am not ready to write Hamadryad off just yet, this is only their second cd, and they have a load of skills, I look at this cd as a band searching for their niche again after having to overcome the obstacle of losing a valuable member, and reconstructing a new sound.
My feelings on this cd are, that if I hadn't heard Conservation of Mass first, I might be very impressed by this 'new' band, I would have called them another nice recreation of the classic Genesis sound, while maintaining a unique sound all of their own. Yet as one that has Conservation of Mass to compare this cd to, being the same core members, it's doesn't seem to have the energy, writing or power that the first cd does. They are far more laid back now, and seem to spend more time singing and less doing instrumental breakouts. Still a good cd, but this may seem like a drastic change in direction to the fans of the bands' first cd.
Reviewed by Marc on 15 Jun 2005
Five years ago Hamadryad
's debut Conservation of Mass
came out to excellent reviews. The music on that CD was bordering on Prog Metal, and the band was fronted by Jocelyn Beaulieu, a singer that kinda sounded like Jon Anderson
, but with a much more energetic delivery.
Now, in 2005, Jocelyn Beaulieu has left and Jean-François Désilets has become the lone lead singer. His voice is pretty near Peter Gabriel's in his Genesis days, but without the typical mannerisms that can be annoying when done by another singer. Actually, Jean-François Désilets pretty much sings in a relaxing way, for this reminding me of the leader/singer of The Box, Jean-Marc Pisapia.
The changing of lead singer seems to have had a big effect on the band. The music has almost completely veered off Metal Prog. They are now playing some early Genesis inspired symphonic Prog (think of Musical Box, The Knife...) but this without ever sounding dated. The compositions are excellent and very original. Even though the music is Genesis inspired, the listener is never reminded of a given song or album.
There seems to be a resurgence in the Symphonic Prog genre. Bands like RPWL, Big Big Train, Kaos Moon... have all put out excellent albums in that style, and Safe In Conformity fits very well with them. Fans of the bands I have just listed in this review should consider Safe In Conformity as a "must have".
I will conclude by underlining the high quality of Hamadryad's website. There are loads of downloads of live tracks and videos available. This is perhaps a good way to get aquainted with the band, if you are not convinced by my review. Conservation of Mass is yet another great album made available by the guys at Unicorn Records. This one will definitively find it's way to my "Top five" list of 2005.