Chiaroscuro - Brilliant pools of darkness - 1999


I have no problems with the so called "technical" or "progressive" metal. Simply I don’t like it. I think that 95% of this kind of bands devote more to personal splendor than to musical creation, as if we were watching a most difficult circus attraction. Progressive rock -the same as traditional heavy metal and other styles – should come from the heart in a totally spontaneous way, not being composed thinking of the number of riffs or the excess of arrangements. For that reason I don't like progressive metal, OK?.

Although some may think that progressive metal was invented by Dream Theater, the creature parents were Rush twenty years ago, albeit with much more feeling. In the case of Chiaroscuro (the name, by the way, reminds me of Italian bands of symphonic rock of the 70´s) their proposition carries the legacy of the Canadian trio in their guitar times (from the classic "2112" to "Test for Echo"), mixing the sound with 90´s sounds as Korn and others.


The first piece, "Broken Everything" is a tribute to the sound of Rush in "Counterparts" or "Roll the bones". An energetic and melodic piece at the same time full with quality and that impacts from the first moment. There are moments in which the voice seems that of Geddy Lee, without arriving to his sharper registries. "Crucifixion" is a mixture of "Cool Fire" of Rush with the heavy sounds - in some moments of the song - of R.A.T.M.... and it sounds very well!!. No need begins more calm, with some quiet arpeggios and ambient keyboards. A very moving mid-tempo in which vocals remind from James LaBrie and the cadence of the guitars in the tensest moments to the first Radiohead (really). The piece grows in intensity in spite of being less original than the two former. "Bloody hell" continues with the style of the previous song, combining hypnotic and fierce heavy moments. The ghost Rush-Theater appears in the middle section and in the spectacular finale (a la "Turn the page"). "Caliban´s dance" has some sharp and piercing guitars and a vocal melody that would not have been out of tune in Angra´s "Fireworks". And a special medal must be awarded to the middle instrumental passage, with a splendid guitar solo. Of the same style is "Waiting" (in this case the choirs remind a lot of Angra), with other plethoric instrumental "intermezzo". "Winter girls" begins progressively with a riff a la Tommy Iommi but the arrangements kill the song. "Luminescence" is a piece with very epic arrangements that save a song whose vocal melodies are not any original. "Divinity" is much better; it is a very slow piece that has plenty of emotion and eastern touches ("The Mission" and "Thai Shan" to give an example). We are coming to the end and Chiaroscuro show us a grandiose song "Children´s crusade" with a beautiful movie-like introduction that ends in an impressive instrumental display by all the components of the band. In total, nearly 4 instrumental minutes. The rest, of the same quality, although I believe that the piece would have been a marvel just as an instrumental.


The creators of "Brilliant pools of darkness" are Ian Dorsch (voice, keyboards), the brothers Richard and Clif Chambliss (guitars and bass) and Aaron Ellsworth (drums). If I have not said anything previously of them, it is because all of them show a great technical capacity and –above all- great imagination when composing music. If you enjoy the last stage of Rush (mainly "Counterparts" and "Test for Echo") and you don't mind the addition of some drops of traditional heavy metal and 90’s metal, you have the moral obligation of purchasing this disk. They deserve to be very, very big since they are years light ahead of many bands classified as technical heavy as Fates Warning or Stratovarius.

author - date - rating - label

Alfonso Algora - October 2000 -   - Independent Release