Lupe’s debut solo album was recently released. You might wonder who is Lupe; he is the singer of the Greek hard gothic rockers Mosquito, whose brilliant debut album hit the stores two years ago via the Brazilian record label Deepland Records. Mosquito’s “Interlacing Eternity” received critical acclaim, with one of its merits being Lupe’s expressive, baritone voice. So, you can understand how eager I was, when I learned that Lupe was working on his debut album. “Burn” is now available and I am literally trying to pick up my pieces.

Every time I listen to this album I am more and more convinced that what is offered here is art. Nothing more, nothing less – art that is dark but not evil, sweet but not cheesy, strange but not weird. And art should be examined with attention.

Trying to define the music of the album, would be a complex mind game. Of course it is gothic and atmospheric. Some may say that it has electronic music and progressive rock elements. Enough with these bloody tags. I am sure that Lupe himself wouldn’t like us to continue with this boring game – we have his music, so let’s enjoy it to the fullest.

“The Door”: the album starts with an instrumental song, based on just piano and keys. You could say it is the melancholic soundtrack of a dramatic movie. The door to a dreamy world opens.

“Burn My Desire”: This song is the natural continuation of the previous track, with keyboards reminiscent of Vangelis and Jean Michel-Jarre. Lupe’s voice makes its first appearance on the record and we get shocked by its dynamics, its passion and feeling, its variety. The Greek singer has recorded many vocal layers – these layers are one of the album’s characteristics - and gives all his best, all his potential, mesmerizing our heart and mind. We are in his world now, everything is in flames and we are screaming – Burn our desire …

“Why”: A nice melody is played on the piano and then, when Lupe is singing the dramatic refrain, a whole band starts to perform. Lupe’s great vocal work sends you shivers down your spine and the guitar parts sound so warm and singular. Without a doubt, a beautiful, mournful song, which develops to a majestic, agonizing end, with a weeping guitar and sensational vocal lines, “Why” stands out as a reason to think and feel, a reason to cry. Nowadays, we don’t listen often to such dark, hypnotizing hymns, which speak to your inner self. Every musical note of this song is a drop of blood. A masterpiece.

“Dedicated Rain”: Lupe isn’t just singing; he lives every word of the lyrics, he expresses an ocean of emotions, he brings outside what’s inside. Imagine a cosmos under a black, cloudy sky. You think the rain is coming down on you, and then you realize it is just you and the warm tears in your eyes. The fourth song of the album can be defined as Lupe’s emotional manifesto, as his sonic canvas, which is painted with an extraordinary vocal palette.

“Have You Ever”: Among the catchiest compositions of the album, “Have You Ever” will blow you away with its melodies and Lupe’s vocal crescendo. Have you ever imagined how a gothic version of Pink Floyd would sound? The answer comes from this song, a mysterious song which immediately speaks to the listener, as a scream or as a lullaby. Its strange beauty will send you deeper and deeper in the dark cosmos of shadows and flames. Sometimes a question can shake you and shock you.

“Cold Surrender”: It is the sixth song of “Burn” and you already have surrendered to the album’s magic. You feel exposed, naked, however, the fresh sense of being resurrected has saved your soul. “Cold Surrender” could be the first single off the album, since its vocal melodies can be understood from the first time you listen to it. The prog rock elements are present again, as the music reminds me of 70s bands like King Crimson, and I would dare to say that it’s like Death In June are covering “Epitaph”. The amazing refrain, the theatrical narration, everything in this song will tear your heart apart. Mystified …

“Timeless”: The bewildering piano melody is the perfect layer, where Lupe can organize his vocal constructions. The song has an extraordinary progression, the adventure of Lupe’s singing end gloriously, and “Timeless” can finally be defined as an atmospheric, gloomy sonic triumph. The spectacle of “Burn” will take your breath away – no words, no reason can describe the majesty of this album so far!

“She’ll Burn the Dawn”: A ghostly elegy, the dawn after a long night, a light in the dark. This rhapsody is a solemn hymn, a lightning in the heavy weather. Lupe shows a more optimistic side, he enlightens the listener, who clams down and gains power from this enchanting composition. Our soul is on fire …

“Till That Day”: One step before the ending of the record, “Till That Day” begins as the previous track ended, and slowly grows into another great composition. The light becomes a sun, a black spot becomes a black hole and Lupe gets lost in a sonic labyrinth. We hold his hand, together we find the way and get at the final venture.

“Burned Down”: This is the grande finale. Lupe’s opus comes to its grandiose end with “Burned Down”. The song’s marvelous melody, a blue violin and Lupe’s vocal grief will drag you to the fire, which burns higher and higher in an emotional holocaust. I am crying, everything else seems meaningless …

  “Burn” is a work of art, a sonic journey, which starts in the dead of night and ends in the red and yellow light of fire. All songs prove the otherworldly inspiration of Lupe, whose rare artistry results in an epic musical experience. To be frank, I needed three months’ time to finish this review, since every time I listened to Lupe’s debut solo album I was exploring something new. It’s an album which grows inside you, it gets better every time you trust its songs. If you want to live precious moments, if you are ready to feel unique feelings, just push play. It’s better to burn out than to fade away.

♦ 8.5/10

Dimitris Zacharopoulos