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Sfinx - Zalmoxe CD (album) cover

ZALMOXE

Sfinx

 

Eclectic Prog

4.12 | 65 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

siLLy puPPy
4 stars SFINX began all the way back in 1963 in Bucharest but wouldn't release their first album until 1975 and is one of the few Romanian progressive bands i've ever come across. This second album ZALMOXE is a concept album based on the lyrics of poet Alexandru Basarab which retold the story of Zalmoxis's existence. Zalmoxis, you may be wondering, is a divinity of the Getae (a tribe of the lower Danube) mentioned by Herodotus in his Histories IV, 93-96. I had to look this up so if you want more info I advise you to do the same! Unfortunately the album was ready for market shorty after their first release LUME ALBA in 1975 but due to political censorship by the Communist regime, the album was delayed 3 years and half of it scrapped. The original intent was to have a double album. Once finally released the album was a huge hit in their native homeland but has remained a bit obscure everywhere else. The lyrics are totally in Romanian. This is one that I wish I could understand because it sounds like an interesting concept that warrants comprehension of the story.

As for the music itself, it is eclectic but has a very symphonic sound. It is always dramatic and melodic. To me it sounds like it is most closely akin to symphonic Italian prog like PFM especially in Dan Andrei Aldea's vocal department with the rest of the band harmonizing. He is also the guitarist and plays some great heavy prog sounds with the guitar. Some of the more pastoral moments can bring Genesis to mind as well. Nicole Enache's keyboards can be bombastic like in ELP but most often not and band members always complement the other instruments so any one particular member never steals the show for long. At times the keyboards have a new wave repetitive synth approach. There are long drawn out symphonic parts and there are energetic bursts of energy strewn about. Drummer Mihai Cernea keeps the rock in the prog and surely deserves a mention here. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that there seems to be no Romanian folk music influences whatsoever.

Overall I really like this album. It's not quite up to masterpiece level. I am left wondering if the original double-album would bring this altogether a bit better. It sounds like things may have been clipped somewhat haphazardly but also the quality sounds very good like something greater once existed. I am left admiring this album for what is but wishing it could have been what it was intended to be.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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