It was quite the surprise to see Power and Outcome, the latest release from Mexican prog veterans Cast, come across our review desk recently, as it's been a number of years since I've personally has been in touch with the bands music. These guys have been very prolific over the years, with about 20 releases since their 1994 debut Landing in a Serious Mind, and for a while there they were pumping out new albums just about every year, which made it very hard to keep up with after a while. The current Cast line-up here in 2017 consists of:
Bobby Vidales / vocals
Lupita Acuna /vocals
Claudio Cordero / guitar
Luis Alfonso Vidales / keyboards
Roberto Izzo / violin
Carlos Humarán / bass
Jose Antonio Bringas / drums
For those who have somehow missed out on Cast all these years, the band play a melodic form of progressive rock that draws on the classic '70s period as well as the early '80s neo-prog scene, so comparisons to Genesis, Kansas, Camel, Marillion, IQ, Pendragon, and IQ often pop up. Power and Outcome kicks off with the exciting instrumental "Rules of the Desert", an 11-minute excursion into blazing prog and jazz-fusion, featuring plenty of solo trade-offs between keyboards, guitar, and violin, Cordero especially impressing with his wild Yngwie Malmsteen styled neo-classical metal explosions. The gorgeous title track follows, as sumptuous keyboards, tasty guitar, sweeping violin, and enchanting male & female vocals just surround the listener with symphonic prog grandeur, and this is followed up by the two-part "Details", the first a pastoral and lush vocal/keyboard segment, and the second a blazing Kansas styled ripper complete with scorching violin/guitar/keyboard exchanges.
Upbeat symphonic prog continues with "Through Stained Glass", Vidales and Acuna really impressing with some fantastic vocals amid complex rhythms and lush keyboard and violin, while "Illusions and Tribulations" offers up intricate guitar textures and majestic keys for a full on prog extravaganza. Bobby's vocals here are excellent, soaring to the heavens throughout and effectively joined in spots by Acuna. The duo once again work so well together on the heavier "The Gathering", as complex arrangements featuring daring guitar work, vintage keys, and alluring violin battle it out, while the two singers take a rest for the scorching instrumental "Conquest", another incredible musical workout on Power and Outcome. The closing number "Dialect for the 21st Century" once again brings to mind the majestic sound of Kansas with its dazzling violin/keyboard interplay and heavy riffs, just a great way to end this very classy and enjoyable album.
One of the things I used to gripe about many of the early Cast albums was the lackluster production, but the band have seemed to have figured that out over the years, as Power and Outcome sounds bright and professional, really doing these songs justice with its crystal clear sound. I really enjoyed this one, and I think I might actually have to go back and explore some of the bands output that I've missed out on over the last decade. Well done guys!
1. Rules of the Desert (Instrumental) (11:35)
2. Power and Outcome (7:25)
3. Details: a) Circle Spins (5:47)
4. Details: b) Start Again (Instrumental) (8:43)
5. Through Stained Glass (8:46)
6. Illusions and Tribulations (9:27)
7. The Gathering (8:16)
8. Conquest (Instrumental) (3:30)
9. Full Circle (1:57)
10. Dialect for the 21st Century (5:16)