Canadian Guy LeBlanc is the keyboardist, vocalist, composer, and driving force behind the highly gifted, prog/ fusion, rock group, Nathan Mahl. Subversia is LeBlanc’s solo release. First off, I have to say, this release is on my top ten list for fusion/ progressive rock releases for 1999. So if you want to skip to the next review, ready to buy this, great. Still curious? Read on.
Subversia is much more fusion overall than LeBlanc/ Nathan Mahl’s The Clever Use of Shadows. Progressive rock is still present with LeBlanc’s excellent keys! Jazzy sax is strong as well. Guesting on four extended tracks out of seven total, is the phenomenal, consummate, fusion guitar wizard, (drum roll please), Scott McGill. His contribution to this release alone is well worth the purchase for fusion-heads. But remember, McGill jams in LeBlanc’s well-designed compositional spaces. It is LeBlanc’s genius that makes this release so strong.
That Nathan Mahl feel is evident but Subversia leans heavily towards that Bruford/ Finneus Gauge gestalt in many songs. Lots of good trade-offs 'tween LeBlanc and McGill here good fusiony conversational soloing like the days of classic Mahavishnu Ork stuff. Subversia all the strong points of Nathan Mahl and more melodic, lyrical, well-placed riffing by McGill. The sonic storms of legato/ ostinato riffage are there for sure but McGill is delightfully even-paced and solos right on like Holdsworth/ Goodsall/ "Unknown" John Clarke did with Bruford.
The CD tells a tale so it is a well-done concept album. LeBlanc is a great songsmith. Plenty of variety here and loads of great instrumental breaks in songs with lyrics. Vox is strong and pleasant. No Geddy Lee screeching or symph-prog bombastic falsettos here thankfully. I can't remember anything noodling-lame or meandering-weak here just a solid, 9.2 outta 10, keeper overall. And hey I gotta openly support great artists like Guy and Scott anyway. They are the type musicians that do stuff worth buying again and again. Highly, firmly, and easily recommended.