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2012 : VOLUME 29
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REVIEWS IN THIS ISSUE:


Magicfolk - Tales Of Power
Magicfolk - Tales Of Power
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:SHMFCD02
Year of Release:2012
Time:57:07
Info:Magicfolk
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Call Time (2:56), Nagual (6:41), The Faery King (5:22), Lion Tamer (4:59), Desert Song (6:35), Into The Blue (5:13), Dragonspell (7:13), Wiccan Dance (4:48), Death Of The Maiden (4:19), Winged Bull (6:11), Dweller (2:44)

Tales Of Power by Norfolk’s Magicfolk is a bit of a strange one really, it as an album that encompasses a few musical styles. We see, or should I say hear, sedate and serene acoustic folk inflections, whimsical musical madrigals, rock blues passages and elements of progressiveness with strong pagan roots. Now that sounds like quite a mix and in all reality it is, but in saying that, the way it has been pieced together, means that the album works on so many different levels, where there is something for everyone who participates.

Across the eleven songs here the band demonstrates that they have a very good ear for both songwriting and melody and are not afraid to mix it up. The acoustic passages are rather mesmerizing, but for me it the electric passages where the band really come alive. This approach is complimented by the rather astute and fine vocals presentations of Michelle Glover; in fact the relationship of the participants is one that really compliments the whole situation perfectly. On top of that, the wind section supplied by Rachael Murray just adds so much character bringing freshness to the proceedings.

The whole approach is that of storytelling, a world that is full of magical and mythical prose, something that is prominent throughout and in all honesty is a real highlight of the album. A classic example of this is Nagual, a song about a human that can shape shift to animal form; the change in musical direction pin points these occasions succinctly. The Faery King delves into the world of the said title, which again is mirrored by that intelligent approach the band have used throughout, offering up something that is rather stunning musically. This is not the only place where this happens as The Lion Tamer offers up some resplendent Latin tinged framework and Desert Song with its stark approach sounds very much like a Neil Young number with its phrasings, which can’t be a band thing. Into The Blue will have you shimming around one minute with its infectious bass lines and opening harmonica line, emotional blues that delight, the next you will be mesmerised as the meter and timbre changes; this theme of undulating from one style to another carry’s on throughout, making it for me one of the standout tracks as is Dragonspell. The only downside for me is the rather mundane Wiccan Dance that has some really nice musical ideas, but on the whole, fails to deliver, at times sounding very formulaic. The Eastern tinged Death And The Maiden more than makes up for this slight lull with is rapidity and atmospherics which has a similar approach in sound as IO Earth.

The backline of Ben Glover (bass) and Geoff Charlton (drums) is very tight as they ply their trade with accuracy. This approach has created a solid foundation for keyboardist Chris Scupham and guitarist Stephen Scott, allowing them to add the depth and scenery, which in turn has allowed Michelle and Rachael the opportunity to add the colour and warmth.

The whole approach of the album is rather mesmerising and inspiring, well-balanced throughout, a soundstage that seriously entertains. This is all complimented by the excellent production job that has been applied that again reinforces the bands direction and sound.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

JOHN O'BOYLE



Strawberry Fields - Live [DVD]
Strawberry Fields - Live [DVD]
Country of Origin:Poland
Format:DVD
Record Label:Metal Mind
Productions
Catalogue #:MMP DVD 0195
Year of Release:2012
Time:100:00
Info:Strawberry Fields
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Open Your Eyes, Close, Fool, Maybe, River's Gone Dry, Problem; Beautiful, Flow, Your Story, Don't Walk Away in Silence (Satellite cover), Living in the Moonlight (Collage cover), Is It Over (Satellite cover) Bonus Material: Interview with Wojtek Szadkowski, Interview with Robin, Biography, Photo Gallery, Desktop images

This female-fronted side project of Collage/Satellite drummer Wojtek Szadkowski was formed in 2008. Their debut and so far only album, Rivers Run Dry came out the following year. Its subtle mix of atmospheric pop-prog won a positive but guarded reception from DPRP’s Menno.

With the act still in its infancy it is usually a little early to put out a DVD but the same thing was done by fellow Metal Mind artists Believe, and it has done them no harm.

Filmed at the architecturally impressive Wyspianski Theatre in Katowice, Poland in April 2011, the footage has the crisp, well lit, multi-camera standard that we’ve come to expect from the team behind many such Metal Mind Productions.

The camera focuses heavily on vocalist (Robin) Marta Kniewska. She starts rather reserved and nervous but relaxes as the show progresses and the crowd’s reception becomes more vocal. There’s not a lot of interaction with the crowd or her colleagues but where she does come out of her shell there is clearly plenty of potential that a few years of gigging will allow her to develop.

The set list obviously leans heavily on the debut. It’s played in a different order but the same songs shine through as on the CD especially the melancholically simplistic pop of Beautiful and Fool.

Bizarrely the only track not to appear from the debut is the one that I rate most highly, Moon.

We are also treated to new renditions of three tracks by Collage and Satellite which are warmly welcomed by the crowd and offer clear comparisons between all three bands.

One new song is allotted into the middle of the set. Problem offers plenty of promise for the future if not wildly different from the remainder.

As a new band, the musical content of the DVD is not particularly long. With a couple of subtitled interviews and the usual extras it will provide a couple of hours entertainment and acts as a solid introduction to the band without having to fly off to Poland.

Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10

ANDY READ



Perri & Neil - Then
Perri & Neil - Then
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:PANCD001
Year of Release:2012
Time:44:31
Info:Perri & Neil
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Beyond Words (4:30), Both Of You (3:44), Sunday Song (4:51), Clouds (7:00), Walking With The Sun (2:49), Dream Of You And I (3:45), Surround Me (8:36), Like Music (3:10), Then (4:03), Shadowlands (2:13)

Has it really been seven years since I reviewed Neil Campbell's excellent 3 O'Clock Sky album? Well the simple answer is yes and now in 2012 time to look at his latest offering, the simply titled Then from Perri & Neil. But before I move on to the introductions I'd just like to mention that I never know quite what to expect with each and every release from Liverpool composer, musician and classical guitarist Neil Campbell. Granted there are commonalities, but each release presents contrasting sides to the man and his music. From the delightful solo classical guitar offering Through The Looking Glass to the aforementioned proggier band presentation of 3 O'Clock Sky. 2006 saw Neil team up with cellist Nicole Collarbone for the engaging Fall whilst 2008 saw the minimalist Particle Theory release. Neil returned later that year with Ghost Stories featuring soprano vocalist Anne Taft and "electronic soundscaper" Michael Beiert.

Joining Neil on this latest offering is vocalist Perri Alleyne-Hughes, which by way of introduction I will offer this quote from the website:

"Perri Alleyne-Hughes is the Musical Director for Sense of Sound Singers leading the choir in collaborations with artists as diverse as Damon Albarn and Paco Pena, and through major competitions on BBC TV and radio. As a vocalist she is perhaps best known for her renditions of 'Abide With Me' and 'Ave Maria' featured in the classic British horror action movie '28 Days Later'."

Last, but by no means least, is vocalist Jennifer John (additional harmony on track 7) who along with Ogo Nzeakor, Kaya Herstad Carney and Sarah Noufal provide the "choir" on Surround Me. Bassists Paul Riley and Philipp Moll along with drummers Joey Zeb and Colin Lamont providing the rhythm section, again on several tracks.

So - what about the music on Then? Well together Perri & Neil have come up with a truly delightful album. The combination of Perri's impeccable voice and of Neil's fluid guitar makes this an album to enjoy. And an album that can be enjoyed on several listening levels. A warm and charming backdrop to a quiet evening in, sitting in the garden on warm sunny, (the large ball of fire somewhat missing from the sky this year), afternoon - or as a more studied listen, with the gentle layers revealing hidden depths. Truth be told my initial summation of the album was that, although superbly written and performed, Then fell too readily into a "smooth jazz" category. Granted it could fit nicely into this genre, akin perhaps to Sade for example, however as I listened more and more for the purposes of writing this review, the strength of the music gradually unfurled. So along with the immediate jazz influences, we have bluesy intonations and yes folks, proggy elements. These surface in the subtle metering and extended solo passages. But I'm not going to try and sell you this as a prog album per se, (no mellotrons for a start), but more an album that could sit comfortably within your collection.

Musically Neil lays a carpet of infectious classical guitar, interwoven with subtle harmony and counterpoint. He then intersperses, throughout the album, tasteful electric guitar parts which add weight and depth, along with the sparse use of sound effects for colouration. Five of the ten songs feature acoustic bass and drums giving these tracks an intimate jazz club feel. Languishing on top of this lush carpet is Perri's silky smooth vocal, which like the music, breathe warmth. Every note, every space is crystal and transparent. Simply, this is a classy album that with the right interest/promotion could be a major seller!

Then has become a firm favourite in the past few months. The title track nicely captures the jazzier "band" compositions to be found on the album, whilst Dream Of You And I and Like Music are simple voice and guitar arrangements. The two longer pieces (Clouds and Surround Me) allow more instrumental freedom, although the latter also includes an angelic "choir" of voices.

So yet another fine offering from the Neil Campbell stable - surely Liverpool's busiest musician. So far this year Neil has released another album, The Path - "A four movement ambient classical suite based on concepts drawn from Herman Hesse’s novel Siddhartha." Currently collaborating with Jon Anderson on a "a new choral composition, Inventioning". Along with this, work continues on side-project band The Bulbs which shows a heavier side to the man - certainly an album to look out for when it is released? Until Then however, I can recommend you give this album a try!

Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10

BOB MULVEY



Ambeon - Fate Of A Dreamer (Special Edition)
Ambeon - Fate Of A Dreamer (Special Edition)
Country of Origin:Netherlands
Format:2CD
Record Label:Transmission
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2001/2012
Time:CD 1 60:00
CD 2 54:00
Info:Ambeon
Samples:Click here

Tracklist:

CD 1: Estranged (2:51), Ashes (5:29), High (4:15), Cold Metal (6:50), Fate (7:45), Sick Ceremony (3:44), Lost Message (4:33), Surreal (4:38), Sweet Little Brother (6:08), Dreamer (5:19), Cold Metal [Single Version] (3:50), Merry-Go-Round (4:43), High [Remix] (3:29) Last three tracks on the first CD were originally on the Cold Metal single.

CD 2: Actual Fantasy (1:27), Valley Of The Queens (2:41), Ashes (3:17), Charm Of The Seer (3:31), Castle Hall (4:35), Estranged (2:51), Temple Of The Cat (3:34), Isis And Osiris (6:11), High (3:45), Garden Of Emotions (4:33), Sick Ceremony (3:04), House On Mars (5:23), Lost Message (3:44), Into The Black Hole/Cold Metal (5:10)

This is a very welcome re-issue of what has become a much sought after, yet increasingly hard to find album from the Arjen Lucassen discography.

Starting off as an opportunity to display the more ambient side of his song writing, Arjen initially set out to record this as an instrumental album, developing melodies and sections from existing Aryeon songs. However the arrival of 14-year-old Astrid van der Veen turned Fate Of A Dreamer into a vocal album with just two instrumentals.

As the original release gained a DPRP Duo Review, I shall not offer another critique here, other than to say it’s a disc that has aged well and after having it on my to-buy list for sometime, I’m glad to finally be able to get a copy.

It is common for many re-releases nowadays to get a few added extras. As usual Arjen doesn’t do things by half. Not only are there three extra songs from the Cold Metal single added to the original album disc, there is a whole new disc added as well. And what a gem this is.

The 16 never-before-heard unplugged recordings also hail from 2001 when Arjen was asked to do an acoustic show with the Ambeon project in Italy.

Alongside Astrid he invited flautist Ewa Albering and cellist Dewi Kerstens to join the shows. As part of the rehearsals the quartet performed a mixture of Ambeon and Ayreon songs in his studio. For some reason the gig never took place. However the rehearsal recordings were safely stored away and have waited for an opportunity to steal the show.

Although all the vocals were done in one afternoon – often in a single take – the term ‘rehearsal recordings’ is a misleading description. The quality is excellent and to the untrained ear, such as mine, it all just sounds like a full acoustic album. Astrid makes the Ayreon songs her own and these clever reworkings of the originals show the songs in a fresh light – especially where the original songs featured male singers. The use of flute, cello and acoustic guitar works a treat.

It would certainly be a very interesting future project if Arjen could rework material from throughout his career with a range of different vocalists?

Anyway this expanded edition comes in a smart 2-CD digipack with a 20-page booklet. The quality of the second disc means it is well worth seeking out if you did not, or even if you did get it the first time around.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

ANDY READ



FeedForward - Upstream
FeedForward - Upstream
Country of Origin:Netherlands
Format:CD
Record Label:Nightmare Records
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2011
Time:51:58
Info:FeedForward
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Ahead Of Echoes [Intro] (2:46), Deepest Thoughts (5:55), Thin Ice (7:38), As Time Goes By (4:41), Relevant (5:31), As One (8:17), Promises (7:46), Give (3:50), For Now (12:28)

Dutch progressive rock/melodic metal band FeedForward have delivered album number two in the form of Upstream. Their debut album Barefoot And Naked was released in 2007, an album that was DPRP recommended by the illustrious Dries Dokter, gaining 8 out of 10.

In all essence, the beauty of this album is that Patrice, who on all accounts is their latest vocalist; (from my path of investigation, she does sound similar to their previous vocalist Biejanka), she does not opt for the operatic approach; a smart move on the bands behalf, the approach is whole heartedly rock in its orientation, layered and melodic that has great hooks as does the music. There is no showboating here, no battling of ego’s, everything is perfectly placed and balanced, at times complex, but never straying away from the realms of melodic nirvana. In all honesty there is no need to be clever for the sake of being clever, this is an ethos that is definitely confirmed here, having realised and stuck to making sure that it is all about entertaining their listeners to the highest order.

We must not forget the rest of the band which comprises of Mario (guitars), Jan (bass), Pi (drums and backing vocals), and Job (keyboards), sorry I can’t supply any surnames; no matter, as that isn’t what we are here to discuss; they all supply a fantastic soundstage for all this to happen, something that makes this venture highly enjoyable.

Ahead Of Echoes opens the album with flair and style, a song that is awash with great musical interactions, varying sounds and styles that are heavy at times, beautiful the next, giving flavour to what is presented throughout. You can actually jump into any part of this album and I can guarantee you will not be disappointed in the slightest.

The interactions of Mario and Job on Deepest Thoughts confirm the confidence of the duo whilst the album closer For Now with its vague early Marillion sound, sees all the band participating, creating a sublime epic that defines the bands unique and stunning style and approach.

Another point to note here is that when one refers to ballads, this usually means that there is some form of sedate, powerful/beautiful vocal interaction; uniquely this state of musical presentation happens on a regular basis, where it doesn’t always rely on the power of the vocals per se to make the statement, although they are still highly relevant; cleverly the band take this stance and do it time and time again with their chosen instruments, something that makes this album so enjoyable.

To align the band’s name with a physiological system, its job is to send a signal whose function is to keep the body in a steady state of readiness, the band do this in a decisive and precise manner. One couldn’t ask for much more really.

I know Female Fronted Prog bands aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but this album does offer up something different and worthwhile participating in. Do yourself a favour and check out this album and band. As a band I have to agree very much with Dries’ statement about the band not being immediate, the hit, when it does happen, is fantastic. Another nice little find that will sit proudly on my shelves. Album number two is going to be their second DPRP recommended album.

Conclusion: 8.5 out of 10

JOHN O'BOYLE



Akribi - Black Morning Sun
Akribi - Black Morning Sun
Country of Origin:Sweden
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2012
Time:66:53
Info:Akribi
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Puppies Of War (6:10), Where The Water Meets The Sky (8:59), Surface (7:01), Angel Kiss (6:18), Blue Clay (5:31), Carry The Rain (9:28), Wither And Die (3:52), The Plains Of Nevermore (3:44), The Sum Of It All (9:20), Black Morning Sun (6:29)

Female fronted band Akribi hail from Sweden, a band who have a good understanding of virtuosity as they present their take on progressive metal with gothic/operatic inflections. They have certainly been influenced by the likes of Dream Theater, Pain of Salvation, The Gathering and Symphony X; also included in the mix are hints of Marillion.

This maybe a genre that is well worn and to some degree worn out by the number of bands/pretenders out there; as I have said in the past and will say again, to standout you need to be offering something a bit special, as the approach to this genre can quite easily become formulaic, something that turns people away. With their debut album Black Morning Sun Akribi have well and truly thought about this, understanding the need to been different. In fact the word Akribi is Greek, meaning accuracy and attention to detail... Well the band certainly got that right.

The band comprises of Jessica Åhman (vocals), David Lidell (guitars), Andreas Tiberto (keyboards), André Berntsson (guitars), Alexander Bringsoniou (bass) and Tony McWilliams (drums) although I don’t believe he is a permanent member of the band.

I don’t want to just home in on Jessica’s vocals as there is so much more to offer here, what I will say is that her presentations aren’t one dimensional, flat or accented, in fact they are quite the opposite, as she has the ability to pace her vocals in different tones whether delving around the quick paced The Sum Of It All or the ballad-esque Angel Kiss that is supported by some divine keyboard tinkering or the vague operatic stance of The Plains Of Nevermore. Carry The Rain opens up with a passage that is reminiscent of Dream Theater’ Pull Me Under, but that is where the similarities stop as it emotionally courses it way to its final conclusion. It does carry its own decisive power with confidence and it is at moments like this when you understand that Akribi are a premiership band. Wither And Die features some rather interesting musical dalliances, confident affirmation that just attracts success, again proving that there is more to the band. The action doesn’t stop there as the band also offers up tight instrumental pleasure in the form of Blue Clay that is abundant in showmanship with its varied approach.

Where the album started out in an intricate and heavy manner, the closing song Black Morning Sun does not, although the intricacies are still present; as a song it just oozes quality and class, what could one want more? Its approach is a culmination of all the participants’ talents, which completes the jigsaw that is Black Morning Sun.

On top of all this, the album houses a fitting and fantastic production which has allowed the sound to organically breathe, reinforcing all the musical strengths here. Another fine album from that fabulous land they called Sweden.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

JOHN O'BOYLE



Amarok – Canciones De Los Mundos Perdidos
Amarok – Canciones De Los Mundos Perdidos
Country of Origin:Spain
Format:CD
Record Label:Musea Records
Luna Negra
Catalogue #:CDLN-38
Year of Release:2010
Time:73:48
Info:Amarok
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Prólogo (4:21), Canto Celta (8:59), Mochima: El Vuelo Del Pelícano (2:42), Cuevas Submarinas (1:22), Islas (2:02), Els Darrers Caçadors (5:02), Nàufrags (4:49), Danza Y Lamento (4:55), Bolero (2:44), Homenaje A J.R.R. Tolkien (7:10), El Viejo Lugar Prohibido [i. Niebla Sobre Los Prados, ii. Máscaras, iii. El Bosque Mítico, iv. Tótems, v. Invierno, vi. Lavondyss] (7:08), Esquí De Fondo (7:06), Los Bosques De Irati (5:27), El Ciclo Del Tiempo (5:33), Sólo Faltas Tú (3:43) Hidden Bonus Track (0:45)

Amarok is mainly the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Robert Santamaría, but also of vocalist Lídia Cerón, who together form a creative partnership which we could compare to that featuring Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard, also known as the creative entity named Dead Can Dance. In some ways, one could claim Amarok is Catalunya’s very own D.C.D., and the medieval, folk and world influences are all present and correct, but there are a few more ingredients in the recipe, and these include the Celtic infused new age pop of Enya, some Lizard/Islands-era King Crimson, and last but not least, the Mike Oldfield of Ommadawn (1975), Incantations (1978) and even Five Miles Out (1982) or Crises (1983).

In DPRP terms, Mujer Luna (2002) and Quentadharkën (2004) are their most interesting albums, and the ones that feature the progressive and symphonic aesthetics more prominently. This Canciones De Los Mundos Perdidos (Songs From Lost Worlds) is a re-issue/re-master of their second album originally released in 1995. Apparently, the band didn’t have enough time, or budget for that matter, to make the album sound the way they originally wanted, so this is a chance to get a better impression of what they were aiming for with this particular enhanced, polished and fine-tuned re-release.

Overdubs were recorded between 2007 and 2008 and some polish was performed on the original tapes, but I’d say the spirit remains intact: the medieval and eastern flavours combined on Prólogo, the Celtic romanticism of Canto Celta; the shadow of Mike Oldfield looming on the Mochima tryptich and the dreamy, cinematic soundscapes of Nàufrags; there’s even a bit of pure Jethro Tull flute spices on archive track Los Bosques De Irati, perhaps the most interesting cut on the CD.

The downsides here are the somewhat dated keyboard sounds, most prominently on Cuevas Submarinas and the medieval-infused Danza y Lamento, together with some corny ballad stuff in the shape of Homenaje A J.R.R. Tolkien. Elsewhere, the sound is a bit thin and the whole affair suffers from certain “all over the place” syndrome, but the guest musicians aptly paint and augment the sound with warm nuances; special mention goes to Manel Sesé’s percussions and Joan Morera’s violin.

This isn’t by any means my cup of tea, and the CD definitely doesn’t benefit from its long runtime (nearly 74 minutes) and uneven selection of tracks, but it is a good way to discover the formative years of what was to become one of the most respected names in the Spanish folk/world music community.

Conclusion: 6.5 out of 10

HECTOR GOMEZ



Evergaze Eternity - Uninvolved
Evergaze Eternity - Uninvolved
Country of Origin:Italy
Format:CD
Record Label:Spider Rock
Promotion
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2012
Time:45:06
Info:Evergaze Eternity
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: No Regrets (4:31), Insane (4:51), Crumbling (5:10), In A Corner (3:56), In Vain (4:52), Live To Tell (5:12), The Hive (6:04), Memories (3:34), Still Waiting (4:17), Uninvolved (2:32)

As a band Symphonic/Gothic/Alternative/Electronica duo Evergaze Eternity who hail from Italy by no means lack energy or enthusiasm, but with their first album proper Uninvolved, they have kind of missed the boat.

This album can be split into two halves, the good and the generic. The sounds that fall into the first category offer hope, as the songs showcase the capabilities of the duo’s creativity; we are talking, In A Corner, In Vain, The Hive, Memories and Still Waiting. The rest of the songs fall short of the mark, falling into that proverbial heard it all before category.

In all honesty the album does become a bit samey which is the main weakness of what is presented here. The album is dark and full of heavy chugging guitar chords, layered keyboards and powerful drumming, but even with all this, some of the songs fall short of the mark, falling into that said proverbial category. Even the Madonna cover Live To Tell from the True Blue album is uninspiring which had me reaching for the skip button on the remote even though it’s had a metal makeover.

Valeria Salerno (vocals) and Giovanni Ferranti (synths, FX and programming), do have some great ideas, ideas that are littered throughout the album, which is most noticeable on the album standout track The Hive a song that works on several levels both musically and vocally. In A Corner is another one of these moments where the duo is joined by Eldritch’ front man Terrance Holler, a song that is reminiscent of the Countdown To Extinction Megadeth musically.

Alas though this is not enough to excite. I am sure that this is not the last we will hear of Evergaze Eternity, who I feel have a great album in them, it’s just, Uninvolved isn’t that album. I wait in anticipation to hear their next creation.

Conclusion: 5 out of 10

JOHN O'BOYLE



Coralspin – Honey And Lava
Coralspin – Honey And Lava
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:ALTROSPIRECD0001
Year of Release:2012
Time:37:35
Info:Coralspin
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Sons Of The Sleeping Giant (6:58), You're Wrong (3:31), Mistimed (3:55) Burn My Eyes (4:00) Sky's End (4:12), Songbird (3:20) Night Stalker (5:15), Aching (6:05)

The press release for this, the debut release by the East Midlands (UK) ‘modprog’ (not a good epithet guys) band Coralspin talks of “beautiful, barnstorming, modern prog rock” and ventures to suggest that “the album sounds as good as anything you’ll hear this year”. You’ve got to admire their chutzpah. I do wonder sometimes whether such blurb is included so that when a lazy reviewer just cuts and pastes the press pack into his or her review the band can then quote whatever website or whatnot as saying ‘the album sounds as good as…’

It doesn’t, of course but that’s not to say it isn’t worth a listen. So that’s what I’m doing now, in my soundproofed listening area. Also known as ‘the man cave’. Also known as ‘a room’.

Coralspin’s aim they tell us is to fuse modern rock (think Muse, Biffy Clyro) with classic prog (such as Yes and Genesis), filtered through the lens of “great female singers such as Kate Bush and Sandy Denny”.

So yes, dear reader, we are in the realm of the Female Fronted Prog Band (FFPB). This is a tough gig. I remember being completely and utterly blown away by Magenta the first time I ever heard them live at the Classic Rock Society (CRS) and I proceeded immediately to the merch stand to buy Revolutions. This will have been ten years ago or so. And I’ve recently been blown away by the vocal histrionics on the new MoeTar, (From These Small Seeds), record. The female singist here is Ellie Blyth. She is joined by Blake McQueen on keyboards, guitarist Jake Simmons, Steve Kightley on bass and drummer David English.

Now I hate opining on music that the band are clearly proud of, and big up to the extent that they’d have us believe this is “exhilarating” and “delightfully original” but it isn’t. It really isn’t and I’m not quite sure why the press pack would suggest that it is. Now it must be hard when all your mates tell you “it’s fantastic” and you sell 50 copies of your record (the band website speaks highly of them selling out the first 5, yes five, copies at a well known US internet retailer). But there are prog bands that sold 10,000 copies of their album last year who are just about keeping their head above water.

The music is pleasant if pedestrian, but it’s the vocals that mark Coralspin out as a band who just will not progress in an industry awash with FFPBs if their second release sounds anything like this. They are just too one-dimensional and reedy.

What the press bumpf doesn’t tell you is that this lasts all of 37 minutes. Which isn’t long. I’m sorry but I just cannot recommend this to anyone. Having regard to the tried and trusted DPRP rating guide, it’s pretty bad and I wouldn't want to review another album by them. But hey, it’s just my opinion. Go and give them a listen and make your own mind up. Give Revolutions, the 2001 debut by Magenta a listen then tell me if FFPBs have evolved.

Conclusion: 3 out of 10

BRIAN WATSON


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