December 9, 2023

Lalu is very much a band on the up and seems to be a name that is on everyone’s lips at the moment with The Fish Who Would Be King destined to further raise their stock!

Lalu began life as a project put together by the French keyboard player Vivien Lalu, a quality musician who seems to be the very epitome of progressive rock and he and his team of fabulous musicians have now released four great albums of hard and pulsating prog rock music.

His first work was Oniric Metal in 2005 which announced him in big style and his collaboration with vocalist Martin LeMar (Mekong Delta) is something special indeed on an album overflowing with immaculate guitar and keyboards. It would be another 8-years before his second outing with Atomic Ark in 2013 with Lalu only retaining the services of LeMar as he brought in an incredible team with Mike LePond (Symphony X) on bass, Simone Mularoni (DGM) on guitar and Virgil Donati (Planet X) on drums and, oh boy, did they all hit the ground running.

Vivien Lalu is another musician who delights in additional work from some quality guests with the likes of Jens Johansson and Jordan Rudess all joining in the fun on what is quite an indispensable prog album with prog metal leanings. Lalu shuffled the team again for last year’s Paint The Sky with the notable inclusion being the addition of Damian Wilson and he definitely raised the bar as he truly is one of the great voices in the world and is a major star in whatever genre he cares to participate in. Joop Walters returned on guitar and bass with Jelly Cardarelli coming in on bass plus another stream of quite amazing guests.

Paint The Sky was an incredible statement from the band and one that I doubt could ever be topped but the ambitious Fish Who Would Be King comes very, very close with the same team retained but with additional keyboards from Matt Daniel. In many respects, the new album continues on virtually seamlessly from Paint The Sky with the band playing in a progressive metal style rather similar to the awesome Threshold with Damian giving his usual imperial performance as he commands and delivers the songs in a way that vey few can match. Wolters is a great guitarist who serves up some searing leads but all in a pretty restrained fashion and his rhythm guitar work is simple excuisite. Again, there are delightful keyboard passages and the piano work of Matt Daniel certainly complements the exemplary work of Vivien Lalu.

The songs are inventive and often rather witty with intricate moments, heavier elements mixed to perfection and truly inspirational melodies that stay with you forever. Lalu is a band that crams so much into each track and they truly excel when extending the songs beyond the 10-minute mark which is what we prog fans truly want.

The Fish Who Would Be King

  1. Forever Digital (6:36)
  2. The Fish Who Wanted To Be King (11:11)
  3. Deoxyribonucleic Acid (5:45)
  4. Is That A London Number (6:00)
  5. Amnesia 1916 (14:00)
  6. A Reversal Of Fortune (4:37)
  7. The Wondering Kind (6:10)