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2008 : VOLUME 07
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REVIEWS IN THIS ISSUE:


Flamborough Head – Live In Budapest
Flamborough Head – Live In Budapest
Country of Origin:The Netherlands
Format:CD
Record Label:GFT Cyclops
Catalogue #:CYCL 165
Year of Release:2007
Time:78:56
Info:Flamborough Head
Info:Click here

Tracklist: Russian Roulette (1:02), For Starters (0:54), Maureen (11:51), Old Shoes (12:07), Limestone Rock (10:47), Captive Of Fate (7:58), Mantova (8:40), Year After Year (3:10), Silent Stranger (10:07), Garden Of Dreams (12:14)

Flamborough Head are for me a band that has been languishing on the periphery of prog’s hierarchy for far too long. After forming at the beginning of the nineties they have had several personnel changes although the lineup has remained stable since 2002’s One For The Crow album. Their fourth release Tales Of Imperfection followed in 2005 and remains their most recent studio album. It also provides the core of the material for the bands first live disc recorded on the 25th February 2007 at the Miniprog festival in the Hungarian capital. Staged on board Budapest’s A38, a floating nightclub on the Danube, they were invited to appear by local proggers Yesterdays who also performed as did Peter Banks’ Harmony In Diversity. For the record the Dutch quintet comprises Edo Spanninga (keyboards), Marcel Derix (bass), Margriet Boomsma (vocals, flute and recorder), Koen Roozen (drums and percussion) and Eddie Mulder (guitar and backing vocals). Spanninga and Mulder also makeup two thirds of Trion, responsible for last years highly regarded Pilgrim album.

Although support acts can normally expect an hour at most on stage this was not the case for Flamborough Head. So much so that two songs Don’t Forget Us and Sleepless Night had to be axed to accommodate the 80 minute CD format. The majority of the song introductions are absent for the same reason. Combine this factor with skilled ensemble playing and a good sound and it’s not hard to overlook that this is a live recording. Only the audience’s appreciative response at the end of each song is a reminder. The set opens with the familiar strains of Russian Roulette possibly as a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of Hungary’s chequered relationship with its neighbour. The first FH song proper is For Starters / Maureen and it’s an excellent example of the bands style. Infectious vocal sections are laced with majestic instrumental excursions. Hooks abound thanks to Mulder’s expressive guitar style and Spanninga’s evocative piano work. The keys man also provides colourful Tony Banks tinged synth, organ and mellotron textures to add a symphonic gloss.

The hauntingly memorable Old Shoes and Limestone Rock are both standout songs. The former features an emotive vocal from Margriet whilst the latter has been reworked to incorporate an extended solo from Mulder. Brooding to begin with, doubling Margriet’s mellow recorder, it builds to a soaring David Gilmour flavoured tour de force. Mulder also demonstrates his vocal skills during the mellow Captive Of Fate providing smooth harmonies to support Margriet. It’s patently clear that she is the perfect front person for the band. Not only does she have a warm and compelling voice her lyrical flute work plays a central role during the often lengthy instrumental parts. This is certainly obvious during Mantova which has an edgier sound allowing the Derix and Roozen rhythm partnership to flex their collective muscle. Spanninga’s scorching synth break sets Year After Year alight and he provides elaborate classical style piano as Mulder’s guitar runs rampant over Silent Stranger. The final piece is taken from the second album Defining The Legacy which somehow passed the DPRP by. I’m unfamiliar with the original Garden Of Dreams but Margriet makes the song her own with an impressive vocal performance reminiscent of Lana Lane. The sound is certainly heavier with bombastic ELP style keys and a strident guitar break to play out.

Taking a few days leave recently I was able to change my usually listening habits from the car and the computer to the countryside close to where I live. This disc proved to be the perfect accompaniment as I strolled through the beautiful Yorkshire hills. The music has a tuneful grander that evokes the early incarnations of Genesis, Caravan, BJH and Camel especially. The renowned Andy Latimer / Peter Bardens partnership is consistently brought to mind by the harmonious guitar, keys and flute exchanges. That’s not intended as a veiled criticism or an indication that it lacks originality. The stately style comes as a breath of fresh air in the current climate of heavy-riff dependant prog. The melodic neo-prog sound should also strike a chord with fans of Pendragon, IQ and Misplaced Childhood era Marillion. To return to my opening statement Flamborough Head really do deserve wider recognition and Live In Budapest may just be the one that brings it. I wouldn’t normally recommend a live album as an ideal introduction but if you are unfamiliar with the music of Flamborough Head this release would make an excellent starting point.

Conclusion: 8.5 out of 10

GEOFF FEAKES



Frédéric Maillet – Stratégie Lunaire
Frederic Maillet – Strategie Lunaire
Country of Origin:France
Format:CD
Record Label:MuseaRecords/
Dreaming
Catalogue #:DR8445.AR
Year of Release:2006
Time:50:07
Info:N/A
Samples:N/A

Tracklist: BRD 1975 (5.14), Stratégie Lunaire (37:01), La Forteresse Vide (5:54), Syd (1:55)

Imagine yourself as a baby, lying in your crib, slumbering in the dawn of your life. Disturbing dreams approach your tiny, young mind and you emit a baby’s cry. Perhaps you are hungry or thirsty. Then the soothing sound of a lullaby travels across the room from a music box, rocking you gently back to sleep.

Now imagine yourself in modern times, reading this review. That soothing lullaby from long ago could have come from the mind and keyboard of French synthesist Frédéric Maillet. And in fact, one is found in the intro to the title track of his latest electronic release Stratégie Lunaire.

Not much info about Maillet is available on the web, at least in English, other than the review of his previous release Islandsis on this site. On his latest release, he tends to favour the retro analogue synth sound of seventies era Tangerine Dream, as opposed to something more digital and overproduced. The title track takes up 37 minutes of the otherwise 50 minutes CD and is made up of different sections, similar to the longform, section-by-section works Buggles and Asia keyboardist Geoffrey Downes has released. The following is a breakdown of the title piece:

It starts with that sound of a baby crying, followed by the aforementioned “musical box” melody and a light, slow drum program line. This gives way to a dark, pulsing section, some bass synths, and some squiggly, “tweety bird” chirping effects reminiscent of Russian Kraut experimentalists Vespero. Then comes some well-restrained thunder and rain sound effects and some theremin style sounds. The synths become more symphonic and take on a droning quality similar to The Orb. The weather apparently changes as the rain and thunder sound effects are replaced by that of wind blowing. An exotic Chinese hammer dulcimer sound evokes a snowstorm in China. Then comes a ticking clock or metronome sound, a hardcore techno section, some carnival style music, spoken word samples, and a dark church organ keyboard line evoking Keith Emerson. The piece trails off with more wind blowing, and you almost expect to hear Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts VI-IX by Pink Floyd. The Floyd comparison and the electronica are similar trademarks of French electronic co-patriot Gerard Verran’s Molecule project.

Maillet composes, arranges, and executes his craft with a clever charm and exhibits a number of competent flourishes on the CD. The cover design is neon green graphics and imagery against a dark background, featuring a silhouhette style picture on the back presumably of Maillet playing the keyboards.

Strategie Lunaire will appeal to any fan of electronic music in general, and will probably not strike the fancy of anyone into more traditional, song oriented music. Room for improvement? Maillet could perhaps experiment with what Tangerine Dream has done a few times - add a vocalist.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

JIM CORCORAN



Might Could - Wood Knot
Might Could - Wood Knot
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2007
Time:49:27
Info:Might Could
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Dance Of The Woodfires (5:50), Not Every Sequel Finds A Name (8:24), River Of Crows (4:52), Synecdoche (7:35), Lágrimas De Cera (2:58), Vietato Fumare (4:07), Malice (6:05), All That Remains (9:26)

A suggestion. Click the Samples link above and listen to any of the four tracks from Might Could's MySpace site while you are reading this review. My words may then prove not even to be necessary ;0).

Back in 2005 I reviewed many albums for DPRP and one from that particular year that gave me great pleasure to do was Might Could's aptly titled All Intertwined. So when this latest offering from the band landed on our table a few weeks back I was more than keen to put up my hand to undertake another review.

The band line-up remains the same with acoustic guitarists Andy Tillotson, Tim McCaskey, Aaron Geller and bassist Luis Nasser making up our ensemble. I'm also glad to report that the music also remains in a similar vein and the high calibre of writing and musicianship displayed previously is more than abundant here on Wood Knot. Evident from the start with the gently plucked harmonics that introduce us to Dance Of The Woodfires and continuing through an engaging neo classical tune reminiscent of a modern day chamber orchestra - warm and intricate with all the parts contributing to the sum. Dance Of The Woodfires then moves through an intricate web of interlaced guitar lines that entrap and engross the listener.

And the chamber orchestra analogy might well serve as an indicator of Might Could's music. Substituting the more traditional classical quartet of instruments with acoustic guitars and a bass guitar. So the parts played by our ensemble are less solo orientated but rather more melodic lines that are then interlocked, resulting in a complex but listenable piece. I should perhaps qualify the above by mentioning that Wood Knot is not a "classical music" album, as it contains many spices taken from rock, prog, jazz, folk and pop.

I'm finding it nigh on impossible to offer a helpful, all encompassing sentence or paragraph to capture the essence of Might Could's music. To me it is a veritable potpourri of ideas that together make a rather pleasant aroma. Frippian intricacies mixed in with Beatlesesque pop sensibilities. Music that is as complex as Yes or Jethro Tull in their prime and all accomplished without drums, a flute, keyboards or an electric guitar. Did I detect a mutated snippet of Hotel California. Jazz mixes neatly with classical...

The production is once again excellent, capturing the detail of the music nicely.

Wood Knot sadly does not receive a DPRP recommended tag - not a reflection on the music I hasten to add - but perhaps a consideration as to its greater appeal to the prog community as a whole. Personally I can't say that I've ever tired of listening to this album, and it has accompanied me in the car and on many a long walk over the past few weeks. It will continue to do so in the future.

So did you follow my suggestion?

Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10

BOB MULVEY



Port Mahadia – Echoes In Time
Port Mahadia – Echoes In Time
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Giordano Records
Just For Kicks
Catalogue #:23060
Year of Release:2007
Time:45:42
Info:Port Mahadia
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Prologue [Beach Discovery] (4:11), Sirens Call (2:42), Log Entry (0:28), Horizons (7:31), Requiem Of The Mind (6:22), Times Companion (3:53), Riding The Wind (1:12), Distant Shores (3:08), I Of The Storm (13:32), Epilogue [Beach Realization] (2:37)

Port Mahadia is not so much a band but more a co-operative of American musicians (plus a trio of Brits) that came together to deliver an ambitious concept written by guitarist Cameron Castle and bassist Erinn Waggoner. Echoes In Time relates the mysterious events surrounding a sea journey as told through the captain’s log discovered following a shipwreck. Also onboard (if you excuse the pun) are Rusty Clutts (drums and percussion), William O’Connell (keyboards), Dave Gilbert (vocals), Natalie Grace Chua (vocals), David Lee (narration) and guests Damian Wilson (vocals), David Ragsdale (violin) and Hugh McDowell (cello). With such a formidable array of talents it’s a pity that the end result isn’t more inspiring.

This is strictly prog-metal by numbers as demonstrated by the lengthy instrumental Horizons. Castle certainly has all the right guitar moves including lightning fast runs and chugging riffs but it has that heard it all before ring about it. The production is not as sharp as it might be sounding flat and uninvolving overall. Despite an energetic performance from Clutts the drums sound a tad too lightweight to my ears whilst Waggoner’s bass is reduced to an irksome clicking noise. As an instrumental it also fails to evoke any kind of imagery that’s in keeping with the concept. O’Connell’s keyboards are so far back in the mix that they add little in terms of colour or textures. Ragsdale’s distinctive violin fairs better given prominence in Prologue [Beach Discovery], Riding The Wind and Distant Shores. Even he suffers however from a thin electric sound during the latter.

On the plus side the album boasts some reasonably memorable songs and an especially strong vocal performance from Damian Wilson. Distant Shores is one of the better tunes with a stately melody, and in spite of my comments regarding the violin sound on this track, the guitar has bite lacking elsewhere. The albums token ballad Times Companion is better still with Wilson’s voice on this occasion sounding very like Robert Plant in mellow mode. It’s spoilt however by the mannered narration that appears around the halfway mark, and not for the first time. Which brings me to my main issue with this release. Given that the song lyrics mostly speak for themselves the narration is in my opinion an unnecessary intrusion. And whilst Lee’s intonation is suitably lucid with a pronounced English accent he could be reading a telephone directory given the level passion he injects.

Not unreasonably I had high hopes for the penultimate and epic length song I Of The Storm. Whilst the solid backline of Waggoner and Clutts keep things moving along on an even keel (sorry another nautical pun) the staccato guitar punctuations lack impact or originality. Castle is undoubtedly a skilled musician providing some worthy soloing but overall it lacks the all important hooks and dynamics to justify a track of this length. Again keyboards scarcely get a look in and a female choir appears towards the end but all too briefly to make any kind of impression. Epilogue [Beach Realization] stands out if only for the change of pace and style. It’s a slow, reflective piece with cello, violin and acoustic guitar lending a classical baroque feel. Dave Gilbert provides the vocal here as he does in Prologue [Beach Discovery].

Echoes In Time is an album that looks promising on paper but ultimately doesn’t live up to expectations. That’s despite several points in its favour including the excellent Damian Wilson on top form. Don Kelsey’s production lacks that all important punch factor and despite the stellar line-up, all too often the music is over reliant on Castle’s guitar histrionics. Often when I’m unsure about an album the more I listen to it, the more it grows on me. Unfortunately here I found the opposite to be true, so its time to bow out whilst I’m still able to conclude with a respectable rating. And to be truthful I’ve always had a soft spot for ambitious projects. So whilst it’s unlikely to cause Ayreon the master of lofty concepts to lose any sleep, I do wish Port Mahadia every success with this release.

Conclusion: 6+ out of 10

GEOFF FEAKES



Neverness – Cuentos De Otros Mundos Posibles
Neverness – Cuentos De Otros Mundos Posibles
Country of Origin:Spain
Format:CD
Record Label:Musea Records
Catalogue #:FGBG 4724.AR
Year of Release:2007
Time:53:54
Info:Neverness
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Pachamama [El Espiritu De La Tierra] (5:17), Murdo De Cristal [incl. Maldita Esperanza) (9:41), Mi Mundo Al Reves (7:23), Sin Horizonte (9:58), Desde El Silencio (9:11), Mundo De Locos [incl. Todo Por Hacer, El Camino De Piedra, Los Caminos Del Aire, La Danza De Los Locos] (12:15)

The promo sheet that arrived in my mail along with Cuentos De Otros Mundos Posibles, the second release from Spanish band Neverness, trumpets them as “clearly influenced by” “King Crimson, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, among many others”. As an avid fan of Crimson and Floyd, and to a lesser extent Purple, I can say that when I gave the CD a listen I detected these influences a little bit here and there, but I would not say that as a whole Neverness is influenced by these bands.

The dominant sound of Neverness is heavy guitar, which would direct more to Jimi Hendrix or to other early hard rock acts than to the aforementioned “influences”. Neverness is made up of Javier Nieto on guitars and vocals, Victor Perez on keyboards, Dino Martin on whammy guitar (one track) and bass, and Antolin Olea on effects on two tracks as well as drums and percussion.

The seventies rock influence is evident on Muro De Cristal, which showcases some analog drums, acoustic guitar, a guitar solo, and Perez’s synth solo to close the song. Perez in particular shines on the CD, laying down some admittedly Crimsonish mellotron stylings on Mi Mundo Al Reves along with some Keith Emerson style piano lines that throw down with Nieto’s hard guitar phrasings. Nieto tosses in a good guitar solo on one of the better tracks on the CD, the jam-based Mundo De Locos, which also incorporates an erratic rhythm and some synth layers from Perez, evoking seventies-era Rush.

While the CD is enjoyable, a lot of it sounds like a seventies guitar based arena band trying to sound prog. Think ELP with more electric guitar, or Jethro Tull without the flute. This “classic” sound can be found on Desde El Silencio, which features some dark bass from Martin and some bluesy guitar soloing from Nieto.

The tracks are generally composed and produced well, although the drums sound somewhat organic or analog, as is mentioned above. The CD cover is in a brilliant psychedelic orange and black design.

If you are into jam-based guitar rock then you will probably like this CD, but the prog purists out there will probably pass on it.

Conclusion: 6 out of 10

JIM CORCORAN



Dillinger Escape Plan – Ire Works
Dillinger Escape Plan – Ire Works
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Relapse Records
Catalogue #:RR6699
Year of Release:2007
Time:38:30
Info:Dillinger Escape Plan
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Fix Your Face (2:41), Lurch (2:03), Black Bubblegum (4:04), Sick On Sunday (2:10), When Acting As A Particle (1:23), Nong Eye Gong (1:16), When Acting As A Wave (1:33), 82588 (1:56), Milk Lizard (3:55), Party Smasher (1:56), Dead As History (5:29), Horse Hunter (3:11), Mouth Of Ghosts (6:49)

New Jersey’s Dillinger Escape Plan are true innovators, although the genre they helped create goes by a variety of confusing and unhelpful names such as math-metal, spazzcore or jazzcore. The last is perhaps the most accurate, certainly when trying to describe the sound of the band’s debut, 1999’s Calculating Infinity, where the brute force and shouted vocals of hardcore melded with some insanely complex time signatures and chord progressions, all blasted out at dizzying speeds in 2 minute bites. While they took cues from Mike Patton’s more experimental works (as a side note, Patton actually formed his Fantomas outfit after this album’s release) and there were a few other bands operating in vaguely the same musical arena (notably Italy’s Ephel Duath and Switzerland’s Knut) none quite sound like DEP at full blast, nor had the same impact on the metal scene. Inevitably, when the (belated) follow-up Miss Machine saw the band making some vague concessions to approachability (including hiring new vocalist Greg Puciato, who could actually sing – when he wanted to - and slowing the tempo down occasionally and inserting – gasp – some recognisable melodies into proceedings) a slew of imitators appeared a few months down the line, helping to make this style sound rather stale already.

Wisely, even if at the risk of upsetting the die-hards, DEP have branched out stylistically to a considerable degree on their third effort, the nicely-titled Ire Works. True, this isn’t noticeably apparent on the first two blasts of insanely fast and technically complex noise, Fix Your Face and Lurch, even if the latter does see some, well, lurching guitar riffs introduced to control things a little. There are a few of these ‘old DEP’ style tracks dotted throughout the album – Nong Eye Gong, 82588 and (the strongest in this style) Party Smasher – but in truth it’s the attempts to push the envelope which are of most interest.

Chief amongst these is Black Bubblegum, a highly radio-friendly and – gasp - catchy song that’s sure to lead to some cries of ‘sellout’. With Puciato affecting a high-pitched, almost soul-inflected croon, the music wavers between Faith No More at their (The Real Thing-era) most accessible and late-eighties style Red Hot Chili Peppers, coming together for a storming, anthemic chorus. ‘Sellout’ or not, this is a quality song. The other track which could be called vaguely commercial is Milk Lizard, which kicks in with a patented AC/DC style riff and adds a horn section to boot; combining this with Puciato screaming at the top of his lungs and the usual tricksy shenanigans produces a surprisingly successful and satisfying result. It’s a slight pity that the band feel for the need to tag on a standard issue emo chorus, but hey, it keeps the kids interested.

Other deviations are less commercially accessible but no less pronounced. Sick On Sunday mixes ambient and gabba electronica with blasts of guitar noise and jazzy bass runs; When Acting As A Particle runs with the ambient side, incorporating some metronomic rhythms reminiscent of the work of fellow pioneers Battles. The similarly-titled When Acting As A Wave majors on Benjamin Weinman’s distorted, repetitive guitar riffs – he obtains a sound that’s part Meshuggah, part Red-era King Crimson.

The last three tracks are of particularly interest, not least because two breach the five minute mark – a rarity in DEP land. Dead As History kicks off with some eerie atmospheric ambient sounds before some gentle piano and guitar work intrudes, with both Flamenco and Celtic touches. When the riffs come in they are towering and anthemic, and are accompanied by smooth vocals, with only the scuttling electronica buzzing away in the background giving proceedings a slightly off-kilter feel. The way the guitars fade out, leaving just some breathy vocals and sparse piano is impressively done.

Horse Hunter kicks off in typically fast and furious style, but again sections showcasing Puciato’s vocals at their most ethereal and the ability of DEP to reign themselves in without losing any of the power and aggression are a useful new addition to the band’s armoury. Final track Mouth Of Ghosts is one of the album’s strongest cuts; starting out with solo piano and brushed cymbals, again only the ever-present electronic background chatter gives a clue as to who this is by. When the pace picks up, it’s the bass which leads things rhythmically, whilst Weinman gets to show off his skills as a pianist, with an impressive extended solo which wavers between classical and jazz styles. The song rouses itself for an impressive finale, with more of those anthemic power chords accompanying Puciato as he gustily delivers the songs punch line, “you were a mouth without a heart”.

Overall, I feel that with Ire Works, Dillinger Escape Plan have been largely successful in keeping their core sound yet diversifying enough to keep things interesting and appeal to a wider fan-base. There is a nagging feeling that they may have diversified a little too much in places, and there are still some ideas that don’t quite work, even within the eclectic framework that the band operate in. For this reason, and the fact that their appeal to a readership still voting Neal Morse and The Flower Kings albums as the best they’ve heard all year may be limited, has lead me to hold off on giving this a ‘recommended’ tag, but if you are one of those (growing) legions of prog fans searching for something a little bit different and more adventurous from time to time, then Ire Works is definitely worthy of further investigation. Just remember not to have the volume on the stereo set too loud when you first press play ...

Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10

TOM DE VAL



Transmission - Id, Ego and Superego
Transmission - Id, Ego and Superego
Country of Origin:Germany
Format:CD
Record Label:Point Music
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2007
Time:72:15
Info:Transmission
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: One Seed (5:12), Buried Alive (6:00), Make You Believe (4:20), Id, Ego and Superego (15:50), One Day (4:50), Vanity Town (8:07), Calling (7:02), Soul (1:49), Forever Gone (6:29), Angels (2:43), Darker Days Of Life (9:54)

In the good old days, it required a huge amount of effort and/or expertise for a new band to promote its album outside of its home country. Thanks to the internet, invest a day online and you’ll have a list of every website, radio station, shop and magazine for your style of music in the world. Bizarre then, that this debut album from German five-piece Transmission seems to have received barely a mention outside of their home country. Even more surprising, when you discover that the pedigree of its members.

Bassist and keyboard player Christian Becker and Stephan Kernbach are part of progressive rock band Chain, whose album chain.exe garnered positive reviews a few years back. Singer Juan Roos is known for his work with Credit Where Credit Is Due, a side project by acclaimed progressive instrumentalist Henning Pauly (Frameshift). Pauly also mastered the album. Most notable of all, is that the album’s title track features a guest appearance by Michael Sadler, vocalist for multi-million selling Canadians, Saga. Added to appearances with bands like Fates Warning, Enchant, Testament and Clawfinger, and a three-track demo in 2003, you’d have thought it’d be worth sending this album to a few foreign websites and magazine?

Anyway, having caught this band at Amsterdam’s Headway Festival a couple of years ago, I was curious enough to get my own copy. Having spent a lot of time with the nine tracks and 70 minutes of music, overall it was a pretty good decision. The core of Transmission’s music is progressive metal, but the outer layers are an eclectic mix of ideas, rooted in the influences and musical backgrounds of the individual musicians. There is a lot of detail to enjoy in this album but with a clear attempt to always keep the melody as the focus.

All three opening tracks are superb. One Seed has a good melody, varied moods and rhythms and the keys add a warming glow. Buried Alive is a real progressive metal gem with lots of crunchy guitars eased through one’s ears by a lovely, reflective Dream Theater’esque mid-section. The alternation between guitar and keyboard-driven segments, adds another shift of style to Make You Believe. A great, punchy song. Not for the only time on this album, the riffing reminds me a lot of the most recent Dominici album.

However it’s the 16-minute, five-part, title track that stands as the album’s highlight. The musicianship and composition here is phenomenal, especially the varied guitar work of Marco Vetter.

The weakness of this album is twofold. Firstly, apart from the inventive progressive patterns of Forever Gone, the second half of the album is nowhere near as good as the first. Secondly, and for me this is a big weak point, we have the vocals of Juan Roos. Where he sticks within his range and key, I have come to enjoy his style. However, when the band lightens the power, like on the piano ballad Soul, he is left badly exposed. The angry and distorted style halfway through Calling is horrible, and on Vanity Town he is equally out of his (and my) comfort zone.

So is this a disc worth buying? If you listen to the samples on MySpace and can live with the vocals, then I’d say that five of the songs will be among the best ProgMetal compositions you’ll hear this year. If you’re fussy about singers, and desire every song on an album to be of the same quality, then approach with caution.

I just find it strange, that having spent 15 months putting this album together, the band hasn’t invested a bit more time making sure that people know that it exists.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

ANDY READ



Chris Francis – Studs n’ Sisters
Chris Francis – Studs n’ Sisters
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Up To Speed
Catalogue #:UTSCD02
Year of Release:2007
Time:60:28
Info:Chris Francis
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Pickle And Baby Bear (0:55), Studs n’ Sisters (4:43), Sometime Lady Crazy (3:54), Light It Up (5:42), Used-To-Be (5:28), Lift The Dogs (6:12), Riding For A Fall (6:20), You Can Dance Better Than That (3:48), 2nd Base (6:01), Death Bitch (3:36), Sunday Nite @ The Sauceboat (0:33), Material Girl (5:12), Deleted Scenes (7:31)

Chris Francis studied guitar in London and he was finalist in Guitarist Magazine’s “Guitar of the Year” contest in 1999 and even won that title a year later. He releases his 2nd full CD and it is a 13 track all instrumental record. This great album is a must for guitar fans of Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. It even is a concept album using cinematographic themes to create a full and spirited sound.

The best songs are: Light It Up, filled with several amazing solos, Used-To-Be, a truly heavenly melodic guitar ballad, and Riding For A Fall, which is again a breathtaking ballad with guitar orgasms reminding me of Satch, Urso, Zaza and Neal Schon. I am really a sucker for those kinds of guitar ballads, I really love them!!! The rest of the songs are more background fillers, showing that Francis is a good guitar player but he misses that certain feeling like other guitar heroes ...

The true surprise on this album is the cover of Madonna’s Material Girl, with lots of wah-wah solos and even a talk box part.

Not a bad album but not something that will stay in your CD player for very long...

Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10

MARTIEN KOOLEN




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