Although Despite Guardian Angels is a debut release for this band, its five members have been involved in the Canadian rock and prog scene for many years. Most familiar to Prog readers is probably guitarist Michel St-Père, who’s involved with fellow Canadians Mystery. Primarily piano, synth and Hammond led, and frequently punctuated and enhanced by St-Père’s often Gilmour-like playing, the music combines both classic symphonic rock and neo-prog elements.
Opener Beyond The Amstel and Lights And Bridges are reminiscent of IQ in places, for instance. Elsewhere there are strains of a mellower, less intense Dream Theater or Pain Of Salvation, as evidenced by tracks such as If By Morning and Salvation.
Vocally, Sylvain Descôteaux’s voice is warm and expressive, but more catchy vocal hooks would improve his impact. Influenced by the time the band spent in Holland, many of the tracks have Dutch-related themes – the terrific instrumentals Oude Kerk 1 and 2, take inspiration from one of Holland’s oldest churches, and Little Anne deals with Amsterdam’s most famous and tragic daughter.
Mature playing, strong material and lyrical food for thought make Huis a band to watch.