Picture of Adagio

Sanctus Ignis

Adagio - Sanctus Ignis ©2001 Limb Music
1. Second Sight
2. The Inner Road
3. In Nomine ...
4. The Stringless Violin
5. Seven Lands Of Sin
6. Order Of Enlil
7. Sanctus Ignis
8. Panem Et Circences
9. Immigrant Song
10. Niflheim (bonus Track)

When you take David Readman from Pink Cream 69, Richard Andersson from Majestic and Dirk Bruinenberg from Elegy and put them together in a band, you have a lot of talent. When you use them as the band behind French guitar wizard Stéphan Forté, you have Adagio. The liner notes provide a precise biography of Forté. He is pretty much a self-taught master of the guitar, learning most of Yngwie Malmsteen’s tricks by the time he was eighteen years old. The twenty-four year old guitar player can look back on almost twenty years of musical experience to draw from. After receiving his first guitar at the tender age of five, Forte was deeply impressed with the style of Yngwie Malmsteen as a teenager. He experimented with numerous styles of playing and his dedicated regime of practice won him a place at the distinguished CMCN Music Academy in Nancy. On his return home to Montpellier, he began broadening his musical horizons, occupying himself with classical musical (especially Baroque and Mozart) as well as jazz fusion. Stephan also studied music theory and the diverse styles and harmonies of contemporary composers. In 1999 after much hard work on original composition, Stephan was offered a recording contract with French label NTS who suggested forming his own band, which brings us to Adagio. When you throw these guys together with producer Dennis Ward, who plays bass for Pink Cream 69 and has produced discs for Vanden Plas as well as for his own band, you get a phenomenal piece of work.

This disc is a wonderful neo-progressive metal disc in the vein of Symphony X. The comparisons to Symphony X are numerous. The song structures are very similar as is the grand and sweeping majesty of the music. The guitar and keyboards duel at times spiraling to dizzying heights before pushing the songs further on. The baroque and neo-classical shred elements abound in the songs, showing off the influence of Forté’s studies at Ecoles des Musiques Actuelles de Nancy and on his own.

The music is heavy and rich with atmosphere. The attention to detail really shows in the intricacy of the compositions on this disc. Each song is full and sound and complexly orchestrated. The longest of these is the nearly twelve minute "Seven Lands of Sin" that is a modern symphonic metal masterpiece. The cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” is a great interpretation of the original piece. The singing is very aptly done by David Readman. It’s interesting to hear him sing in this style since it is very different from his work with Pink Cream 69. But he manages the task adroitly, fitting into the tenor of the music seamlessly. The vocal melodies a complex and woven deftly into the music making the whole a rich and varied tapestry for the listener. This disc is one of those rare experiences that are immensely satisfying in life.

Fans of Symphony X really need to look into this disc. Adagio are not a precise clone of Symphony X, but they are very similar in many respects. The personal touches and individual stamp of Stéphan Forté are all over the place. This is an outstanding disc as a first solo outing. I hope that this group will record together again. There is a shortage of music that is this good.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 07/2001

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