Exposé Online banner

Hamadryad — Safe in Conformity
(Unicorn Digital UNCR-5020, 2005, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2006-05-01

Safe in Conformity Cover artMontreal-based outfit Hamadryad’s sophomore effort finds them consolidating the gains made with their widely-hailed 2001 debut, Conservation of Mass. The band faced a serious challenge with lead singer Jocelyn Beaulieu’s departure in 2002, though bassist Jean-Francois Desilets’ assumption of those duties hasn’t dampened their creative energies (though I have to wonder how this will translate to the stage). This album is brimming with classic progressive rock vitality and panache, mostly recalling Genesis at their best, though Gentle Giant gets several nods as well, particularly on the heady closer “Omnipresent Umbra.” Guitarist Denis Jalbert chews scenery from start to finish, firing off blistering electric leads and solos one moment, charming the ear with blankets of gentle 12-string the next, and covering metal and alt-rock grunge besides. Almost as good is keyboard player Francis Doucet who is a superb player, though his role is more foundational and his choice of coloration and textures is more derivative. Rounding out the quartet is drummer Yves Jalbert (Denis’ brother) who should perhaps back off the Neal Peart act some, though with such a dynamic instrumental stew it’s better to have an overly-active player than the reverse. I found Desilets’ singing an obstacle to enjoying the album at first, though this passed after successive listenings. Besides, his bass work (not to mention bass pedals) is terrific. While not blazing any new ground, Hamadryad have nonetheless managed to produce a weighty collection of well-crafted and superbly executed prog rock that many Exposé readers will surely enjoy. Recommended.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 33, 2005 releases

Related artist(s): Hamadryad

Latest news

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Crasdant - Nos Sadwrn Bach – Crasdant is an all-instrumental folk band featuring four greats from the Welsh trad scene: harpist Robin Huw Bown, flautist/piper Andy McLauclin, fiddler/accordionist Stephen Rees, and...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues