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2013 : VOLUME 23
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REVIEWS IN THIS ISSUE:



Henry Fool - Men Singing
Henry Fool - Men Singing
Country of Origin:U.K.
Format:2CD
Record Label:Kscope
Catalogue #:Kscope 244
Year of Release:2013
Time:40:29
Info:Henry Fool
Samples:Click Here

Tracklist: Everyone In Sweden (13:53), Men Singing (6:44), My Favourite Zombie Dream (6:25), Chic Hippo (13:24)

Largely keyboard player Stephen Bennett's baby, this album has taken over 11 years to see the light of day and is actually the collective's second album, the first self-titled affair appearing back in 2001. Tim Bowness' blog has the full story of the album's gestation, and a damned good read it is too.

From Jarrod Gosling's charming Yellow Submarine-esque cover art to the apocryphal album title, Henry Fool's Men Singing shows a Surrealist sense of humour at work, and this same left-field thinking filters its way through to the music.

Operating in a land somewhere in the early to mid seventies and soundtracked by Matching Mole and sundry other Canterbury bands along with pre-ambient Brian Eno, Henry Fool are then teleported to the 21st Century by way of Stephen Bennett's and Tim Bowness' thoroughly modern re-arrangements.

Tim Bowness leaves his ethereal voice behind on this totally instrumental record, contributing guitar, Stephen Bennett sticks mainly to keyboards, with some bass and guitar, and on Chic Hippo "Miles Davis and Mavis Riley and Terry Riley impressions", presumably all on keyboards. The trumpet sounds uncannily real! They are joined throughout by no-man alumni Michael Bearpark on guitar and the drums of Andrew Booker, and for Chic Hippo the violin of Steve Bingham. Other players include Myke Clifford, Jarrod Gosling, and Peter Chilvers, who contribute saxes and flute, Mellotron and synths, and bass guitar respectively.

The layered instrumentation winds and insinuates its way deep into your psyche, transporting you to a slightly surreal but never frightening world. Devoid of flashy displays of musical dexterity Henry Fool displays an obvious collective skill that has no need of showy individualistic ego trips of pointless prowess.

The Eno vibe is helped along by Phil Manzanera's contributions to the first two tracks, and Everyone In Sweden could so easily have been a modernistic twist on an outtake from Manzanera's Diamond Head album crossed with a Percy Jones squelch-bass led track from Eno's Before And After Science. The man with the bug glasses of old adds subtle swathes of heavily treated guitar to both songs, and short but effective solos make appearances in both. It is difficult to spot which of three solos on Everyone In Sweden is down to Phil, but what the heck, does it matter?

Myke Clifford's sax breaks on Everyone... are a real treat, and fans of Theo Travis will spot a similarity in mellifluous styles, no bad thing at all in my opinion. The song breaks down into spooky space-ambience in the middle section, and it's like being in the Roundhouse in 1973, but with a 21st Century production. This is progressive rock of a different sort, and it will hypnotise you with its purr, pussycats.

The production by Stephen and Tim is pin sharp, but at the same time warmly organic, as the swirling intro to the title track shows. Jarrod Gosling's Mellotron chords swoosh around Phil's "Squawk" guitar, to a simple on the one drumbeat, the bass playing on the offbeat, and these men are indeed singing if not literally then certainly musically. Phil also plays "Chunk" guitar on this, another Eno-esque description that makes me nostalgic for the days when Phil and Brian collaborated on some of the finest truly progressive music to come from these shores.

Dark ambient landscapes unfold on My Favourite Zombie Dream, and the woozily unsettling vista is compounded by treated guitars sped up and slowed down, leaving this listener feeling as if he is holding tight on to the rail of a ship being veerrry sllllooowwwllly tossed around in a storm on a sea of treacle. Very odd, and right up my particular alley, it has to be said.

With only 4 tracks it would be remiss of me to omit a description of closer Chic Hippo, and right from the start Steve Bingham's lyrical violin playing is to the fore over the backing of Mellotron strings. Initially slightly reminding me of Anekdoten's quieter moments, the song breaks down to Stephen's "Miles Davis impersonation" and the song becomes a space-jazz prog adventure, the insistent bass and drum interlocking and leading the piece into a state of intricate but minimalistic jazz-ambience. Nice!

There is a free EP you can download from the band's website (see link above) and it acts as a good taster for the delights of the album proper. My only complaint about this fine and imaginative work is that at a mere 40 minutes of music, it ain't long enough. Those of us who pre-ordered this got a link to a sixteen minute long outtake from the studio sessions that while interesting perhaps illustrates that the best bits do in fact appear on the album. Still, that minor grumble aside, this album is a must if only to show that 40-year-old influences do not have to be played out in a literal sense.

The sheer amount of imagination on display on this record is a delight to behold, and Men Singing is without question far more than the sum of its influences, writ large as they may be. Let's hope we don't have to wait another 12 years for the next instalment!

Conclusion: 8.5 out of 10

ROGER TRENWITH


Tucana - Tucana
Tucana - Tucana
Country of Origin:Sweden
Format:CD
Record Label:Art Performance Production
Catalogue #:Artp017
Year of Release:2012
Time:65:42
Info:Tucana
Samples:Click Here

Track list: (Watching) The Signs (6:17), Rescue Me (5:59), The Needle of Ended Days (5:07), A Dream Within a Dream (5:05), Stranded Illusions (4:04), Redemption (7:05), Power of Man (8:41), Seven (7:48), At the Gates of War (8:09), Like Dust (7:27)

Named after a constellation of stars visible in the Southern hemisphere, Sweden's Tucana are a self-proclaimed 'baroque progressive' band and their eponymous debut album certainly goes some way to underlining this. Debut it may be but the band have plenty of experience behind them having been working with various line-ups since the late 1980s, vocalist Niklas Birgersson and guitarist Mikael Larsson continuing to work together until the current formation emerged in recent years.

Their website states that Tucana will:

"take you on a journey in a Rock opera / Musical way by mixing progressive rock with classical orchestral arrangements on the (sometimes) more heavier side."

And that is pretty much the contents of this album in a nutshell. Birgersson and Larsson together with Jonas Nitz (piano, string arrangements & backing vocals), Jari Katila (drums) and Johnny Rosengren (bass) have really gone to town on the basic idea and the resulting album is bombastic, emotional, classically influenced with plenty of wellie from the guitar department where necessary.

The result is a very satisfying album which manages to retain its focus and avoid being overly samey through the course of the 10 tracks, particularly where a number of the tracks are quite lengthy slabs of music. There is variety such as the acoustic guitar led intro to The Needle Of Ended Days which also features an almost Celtic section, although the body of the track relies on the formula of piano, chugging guitars, string arrangements and operatic or theatrical vocals.

Opener (Watching) The Signs is indicative of the style throughout with a plaintiff voice and piano support moving into a chugging metal riff. The theatrical vocal style is prevalent coupled with heavy guitars and orchestral keyboard washes that remind me of a less spiky or extreme Bal Sagoth. The device of using an intro to hook the listener in is utilised well throughout the album before cranking up the guitars to add metallic layers, piano and string washes returning the listeners thoughts to the theatrical.

What Tucana have come up with certainly works well for them so there is no reason on this debut for them to stray too far from their basic formula and as an introductory shot it is an impressive work with lots of melody and plenty going on. Maybe on future releases they will need to come up with something slightly different and, given the budget, more use of real orchestral backing could make their sound even more impressive.

While the rhythm section nail things down in a solid if not overly complex way the piano and orchestrations provided by Nitz are the core of the sound, Larsson's guitar stepping in to provide the necessary grit where required. This leaves plenty of space for Biggersson to emote to his hearts content out front. The guy certainly has a fine voice with a great range and it would not surprise me to learn that he has previously made a living from musical theatre as this is where he sounds at home. The operatic edge is in the delivery rather than technique and he also pulls off more usual rock vocals on tracks like Redemption, bringing Bruce Dickinson to mind at times. His diction and delivery in English of his own baroque-influenced and epic lyrics is perfect with no trace of accent. The lyrics are a very good fit to the music with grand themes and portentous warnings in an operatic style.

Of the longer tracks, Power Of Man has loads of weight behind it and is suitably epic building from a delightful piano intro from Nitz whose contributions to this album cannot be underestimated. The basic premise of what the band is comes from his orchestrations and washes of sound while the organic piano motifs are very effective and, as is often the case, really lift the album. The use of the piano is key here, an instrument that does not seem to be employed enough elsewhere and yet can add a real sense of quality when used well, as here, as it can cut through beautifully and give a traditional and organic edge that is not available from electronic keyboards. The synth strings, brass and wind certainly add to the bombast but it would be great if the band were able to surmount the unavoidable financial constraints and make use of real string quartets, brass sections and the like.

Scattered through the album is some very nice soloing from Nitz and Larsson. There are elements of Dream Theater but unlike most new bands that have been influenced by the prog metal giants the influence is less in your face and more subliminal, greater influence coming from the more theatrical work of the like of Trans Siberian Orchestra for example.

At The Gates Of War is as ominous as you would imagine, choir effects and guitar nicely used and the excellent bass sound coming through in a jazzy metal section towards the end. Like Dust brings the album to a spectacular close; epic and melodic, power and energy in the guitars, lighter, almost Arabic, violin figures circling around.

Produced by bassist Rosengren with Mikael Lundin, the whole is well recorded with a balanced sound that allows the music to build in a way that does suggest the intended baroque feel coupled with elements of musical theatre. The amalgamation is an interesting one and Tucana pull it off with some style. The band is clearly talented and have hit on a method of operation that not only suits them but is one that they can pull off very convincingly. Rather than a massive orchestral sweep Tucana benefit more from smaller scale orchestral additions in a baroque style and here and there the writing takes on a classical feel such as on the second half of Power Of Man.

This album is not for everyone as the bombastic nature that gives it appeal is likely to put many off but have a listen to the samples and investigate further if you like what you hear as this is a very accomplished release from a band that have succeeded in producing exactly what they set out to in a very stylish way. It is over the top but none the worse for that and as a mix of the often separate worlds of metal, theatrical and classical it is certainly an impressive success.

Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10

JEZ ROWDEN


Marbin - Last Chapter of Dreaming
Marbin - Last Chapter of Dreaming
Country of Origin:Israel/U.S.A.
Format:CD
Record Label:Moonjune
Catalogue #:MJR050
Year of Release:2013
Time:54:55
Info:Marbin
Samples:Click Here

Tracklist: Blue Fingers (3:09), Inner Monologue (4:34), Breaking The Cycle (4:15), On The Square (4:24), Café de Nuit (2:32), Redline (5:21), Volta (4:17), The Ballad Of Daniel White (4:31), Down Goes The Day (2:02), The Way To Riches (3:21), And The Night Gave Nothing (2:48), Purple Fiddle (4:46), Last Days Of August (5:01), Last Chapter Of Dreaming (3:46)

Marbin, one of if not the hardest working bands on the U.S. gig circuit, return with their third album, a little under two years since the sophomore release Breaking The Cycle, during which time they have continued gigging furiously in the U.S.A., no doubt building up a good following in the process. This album was recorded at no fewer than nine different locations in the U.S. and one in Israel, an indicator of being laid down while the band were on the road, a seemingly permanent state of affairs where Marbin are concerned, as the flyer confirms proudly "performing 450+ shows in the last 2.5 years all around the U.S.A.!".

There is now a settled road band of Danny Markovitch (saxes) and Dani Rabin (guitars), joined by Justyn Lawrence (drums) and Jae Gentile (bass). The latter two are on most of the tracks here but contributions from Paul Wertico (drums) and Steve Rodby (bass), both Pat Metheny alumni, are made where the road rhythm section do not appear. See my review of the previous album Here for the tale of how the young Israelis met up with those two big names in the jazz world. Numerous other guests make percussion, keyboard, trumpet and wordless vocal contributions.

Listening to this immediate and joyously rumbustious collection of jazz-rock instrumentals, it does not take much imagination to envisage oneself in a club somewhere in the back streets of New York jigging about energetically to opener Blue Fingers. Dani Rabin gets to show his bluesy chops on this one, with a coruscating burst of notes that keeps the right side of shredding and is never just empty flash, sometimes a problem in the fusion world.

Not to be left out, Danny Markovitch turns up the sax on the second song Inner Monologue, showing us all in the process that he too is a top-notch player with a rollicking solo over a tune with a Latino beat, Dani then joining in as they trade solos. Very nice indeed!

And so the journey has begun. Featuring tight-as-a-nut ensemble playing and fluid soloing from both Dans, this album exudes the confidence of a unit who by now must know every subtle nuance of each other's playing style, to such an extent that the interplay is as intuitive as it is scripted.

Ending with the title track which is a stadium-sized anthem with imaginary lighters waved aloft, this record features stomping rockers, plaintive ballads, European folk influenced dancing classes and out-and-out big band house-shakers, and it is an album that cannot fail to put a smile upon your face.

Is this "prog" you may ask, whatever that is? Well, no, not really. Nor is it jazz, fusion, rock, folk or anything else, just damned fine music. According to the flyer, Marbin are planning to tour Brazil and Europe in the latter half of this year. I hope the U.K. is included, in which case I'll certainly be there. They also have a Kickstarter campaign going on their website to fund a live album, which I think will show the true colours of this band and may well blow their recorded works out of the water.

Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10

ROGER TRENWITH


Sombre Reptile - Timeless Island
Sombre Reptile - Timeless Island
Country of Origin:France
Format:CD
Record Label:Musea Records
Catalogue #:FGBG 4894
Year of Release:2012
Time:64:22
Info:Sombre Reptile
Samples:Click Here
Tracklist: Out Of The Jungle (5:18), In Course Of Time (8:07), Captain Marvin Is Missing (7:02), Voices In A Labyrinth (4:56), Elektrosaz (7:45), In Search Of A Timeless Island [Ankiv] (1:33), Timeless Island 1 [Restful Mind] (7:43), Timeless Island 2 [Another Coloured World] (8:05), Timeless Island 3 [Vikna] (5:25), On The Sunny Side Of Time (8:28)

Sombre Reptile are a French project based around brothers Jean-Paul and Michel Dedieu who play keyboards and guitars respectively. Now information on the band is fairly scant, however I'm assuming as they originally formed around 1977 and with musical similarities present to both Robert Fripp and Brian Eno, that the band name may have derived from the side two opening track off Eno's Another Green World (1975) album. Sombre Reptiles like much of the material from Another Green World has a hypnotic feel, with pulsing percussion and layered guitars - a trait the Dedieu brothers employ to great effect throughout their music.

I first came across Sombre Reptile back in 2002 when I reviewed their 2001 debut album In Strum Mental. 2005 saw the band continue and develop their style with the equally engaging Le Repli Des Ombres. Move forward seven years and the band present us with their third instrumental album, Timeless Island. I say band, more a studio project that sees the two brothers writing and assembling their material with the aid of a programmed rhythm section. Missing from the first two albums is drummer/percussionist Pim Foken, however it seems not to have detracted from the Reptile's, often quirky, but rather unique sound - a sound that has been honed across three albums. So I will refer to my comments, regarding the broader outline of their music, from my review of Le Repli Des Ombres.

"...the Reptiles have utilised strong, hypnotic rhythms within the drumming and percussion parts - embellished by melodic and infectious synthesized bass lines. Layered on to these undulating foundations are often simple, but very effective keyboard and guitar themes which are gradually introduced and then allowed to drift in and out of the music."

Timeless Island opens with the driving Out Of The Jungle. The rhythm section has a distinctly modern vibe which is nicely offset by the catchy harmonised keyboard and guitar themes. Brief keyboard and guitar solos set the scene for the rest of the album.

In contrast, In Course Of Time is a more languid affair that relies initially on a keyboard wash accompanied by bottleneck guitar followed by ever increasing layers from the aforementioned instruments. Circa two minutes the hypnotic rhythms begin with both kit and hand percussion. Once again relaxing and tasteful solos from both Dedieus.

Captain Marvin Is Missing returns us to the more upbeat sound of the band and here I am reminded of the sound of one of the more creative '80s synth pop acts - Art Of Noise. Michel Dedieu adds some aggressive, slightly dissonant guitar into the mix conjuring up '80s era King Crimson. The pace slows once again with the haunting choirs of Voices In A Labyrinth, augmented by growing layers of multi-tracked guitars, keyboards and percussion.

The complimentary sounds and rhythms employed in Elektrosaz take us on a pleasant Middle Eastern journey - a journey that leads us to the four part Timeless Island suite. The brief and somewhat amorphous In Search Of A Timeless Island [Ankiv] serves as lead in to Timeless Island 1 [Restful Mind]. As the title suggests this a gentle respite with a rippling piano motif and e-bowed guitar. Willowy synths and hand percussion are woven in during the piece. Timeless Island 2 [Another Coloured World] is, for me, the album's most accessible piece. An instrumental ballad with Camel-esque themes and a great solo from Michel. Love this track! The tranquil Timeless Island 3 [Vikna] concludes the suite with bluesy guitar licks on a bed of lush keyboards.

All that remains is On The Sunny Side Of Time - a track that grooves along with Rhodes-like electric piano accompanied by a keyboard and guitar workout. Not a fiery display of notation, but rather reminiscent of live workouts of Manfred Mann's Earthband - locked around a repeating theme with little forays out here and there.

Yet another fine album from Sombre Reptile and as with the previous two releases, an album that is a steady grower. The production values are good, therefore allowing the music's many layers the necessary space to breathe. So folks, Timeless Island is well worth tracking down. You'll need to give the music time to sink in, as its subtle textures take a few spins to work, however once they have the end result is an enjoyable and absorbing album.

Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10

BOB MULVEY


Barry Cleveland - Mythos
Barry Cleveland - Mythos
Country of Origin:U.S.A.
Format:Download
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:n/a
Year of Release:1986/2012
Time:41:07
Info:Barry Cleveland
Samples:Click Here
Tracklist: Aeon (5:05), Abrasax (7:11), Sophia (7:45), Fire Mist (1:52), Mythos (19:13)

Last year saw a high quality download re-release of multi-talented guitarist Barry Cleveland's Mythos album, originally released in 1986 on synthesiser pioneer Larry Fast's Audion label.

Over the years Barry has released five high quality and highly varied albums, ranging from the Crimsonoid soundscapes of Hologramton to the ethnic flavoured dreamscapes of this fine and many-layered blissful record, originally his debut under his own name, in addition to many appearances on other artists' work. He is also well known as a music journalist, in particular for his work on Joe Meek.

This album is a delightful blend of ambient electronica and organic instrumentation, in particular a curious instrument called a bowhammer cimbalom, which is a hammered dulcimer. A similar instrument was used on the third of Eno's ambient series Day Of Radiance, and played by his collaborator on that record, Laraaji. I suggest you search Google images as I cannot begin to attempt to describe it properly.

This is an album of dreams, of feather-light psychedelia, and it works just as well as background music as it does turned up. There is more than enough going on here to keep one's interest, and your attention should not wander as is sometimes the case with the more ethereal end of ambient music.

The many and varied instrumentation on offer features Barry Cleveland on acoustic and electric guitars, synthesizers, bowed dulcimer and tape loops, Michael Masley's bowhammer cymbalom and xylophone, Bob Stohl on flute, synthesizers, Lyricon, bass recorder, bells and gong, Kat Epple on flute, bass flute, synthesizers, bells.

Abrasax has a sophisticated air as repeated sequences played out on xylophone allow a Bill Nelson-like guitar sound to swoop and swirl around, and it is quite charming. The varied combinations of instruments serve up something different on each track, and Sophia has the feel of a warm summer evening as what I surmise must be the Lyricon, an electronic synthesised wind controller that plays parts written for saxophones and the like, combined with the various reed instruments allow one's imagination to follow the late summer sun as it slowly sets over a field or ripened wheat; lovely.

The album consists of four shorter pieces on side one and a side long track on side two. Mythos the track is the obvious focal point of the record, and it creates oriental vistas that wash away the stresses and strains of the day. Although Barry's favoured instrument is the guitar, you will find that he does not play it in the traditional manner, rather he loops, hammers and bows long languorous swathes of sound out of the traditional rock centrepiece. After a while one forgets that there is a guitar on the record at all, as it melds in with the cimbalom, flutes, bells and other trinkets.

There are themes in here, deeply woven into the tranquil fabric of the piece, but they are subservient to the whole, which creates a kind of flotation tank for the ears and mind. As well as the more modern influences I referred to, if you are into the more ethnic flavoured ambience of some of the early Deutsch kosmiche ambience, for example Ashra, Gila, Eroc and their like, then you will love this.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

ROGER TRENWITH


Jorn - Symphonic
Jorn - Symphonic
Country of Origin:U.S.A.
Format:Download
Record Label:Frontiers
Catalogue #:FRCD 579
Year of Release:2013
Time:66:00
Info:Jorn Lande
Samples:Click Here

Tracklist: I Came To Rock (6:34), Rock And Roll Children (4:37), The World I See (6:29), Burn Your Flame (3:30), Man Of The Dark (5:14), My Road (2:51), Time To Be King (4:24), Black Morning (4:37), Like Stone In Water (5:20), Vision Eyes (4:56), War Of The World (5:30), Behind The Clown (4:12), A Thousand Cuts (9:01), The Mob Rules (4:15)

I was introduced to Jorn Lande's voice when I heard the awe inspiring 2001 Beyond Twilight album Devil's Hall Of Fame. Without delving into the myriad of other projects and albums, I will just say that Jorn owns the metal voice landscape. He has never lost ground and this spine tingling talent has reached new heights with his latest solo release, Symphonic.

Having a storied history that spans significant territory, Jorn's new symphonic compilation album is a nice surprise branching out from the usual that is roughly described as "putting a new slant on some gems that may have been missed the attention they otherwise deserved". The reality is that half the album comes from the recent Bring Heavy Rock To The Land (2012) and a couple of Dio covers. To me, adding an orchestra to an already big sound is a natural progression with no possible downside and I feel that these orchestrated versions are better than last year's originals.

Continuing on the success of the Dio covers album (2011), Jorn includes the 1985 Sacred Heart anthem Rock And Roll Children and Dio era Black Sabbath's The Mob Rules and does it the same spectacular justice he did for the other Dio songs. Maybe I can put in a plug for a Dio Covers II album? (I'm sure Rock And Roll Children wasn't the only one he missed). Jorn's voice is perhaps the ultimate metal vocal, picking up where Ronnie James left off. Only now the signature European thick guitar and over the top fat mix runs his apt covers to the stratosphere.

Jorn's music writing has always had an ear for '80s hard rock and is really a blend of metal and anachronistic anthem rock that keeps making the case for rock and roll to never give up. Song titles and lyrics be damned, Jorn is all about loud and proud and this symphonic work adds a touch of class to it.

The effort to make these hard rock songs sound like a natural blend with a full orchestra is very fine. All instruments rise to the occasion to ultimately serve the power and delivery of that rock & roll tribute to rock & roll. Sometimes power metal is the self-referring end in and of itself. Hold your lighter up high and remember how large hair got us here. Jorn is carrying the torch for party rock and he does it well. I might as well admit that when I am in the mood for some Dio, I pull out Jorn's versions.

The cover art is well devised and hearkens back to earlier symbols from previous ground. It matches the breadth and impact of what's inside. I also give high marks for the way this album was recorded. To turn this music up and let it sink in is a regular old-fashioned delight.

Personally, I have to recommend this to anyone who enjoys hard rock with a flair for the strings. Obvious drawbacks include a tendency for simple lyric refrains and this stuff isn't exactly progressive. Jorn's pedigree and legacy commands the entry here and the high impact music deserves notice by our crowd. I am noticing and this is good work.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

BRENDAN BOWEN


Boyce - Boyce
Boyce - Boyce
Country of Origin:U.S.A.
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:n/a
Year of Release:2012
Time:47:23
Info:Boyce
Samples:Click Here

Tracklist: News To The World (5:13), Why Is The World (6:23), The Truth (3:45), I'm the Show Tonight (3:50), Don't Believe A Word (3:50), Not Tonight (5:34), Lady Midnight (4:59), Return To Zero (4:39), The Harvest (5:01), Will You Be Ready (4:05)

Gregory Boyce Halls is the mastermind behind this album by Boyce, Not a band as such, just multi-instrumentalist Greg. After a number of albums that took him away from his original Metal roots he is now back where it all started for him.

Boyce is a 10 track album with enough diversity for it to get noticed by fans of Progressive metal.

Gregory Boyce has done his best to give the listener something worthwhile. He has done some preliminary work to divide work and ensure variety, whether a track is plain and simple Metal, has a progressive edge or is Dance Metal - now that is a category I have never even heard of until now. The categorization is not bad at all, but I am to review the music and quite frankly, this Metal effort from Boyce ainít bad. Indeed it is a very enjoyable listen.

For the real progressive people among us, and there a a great number of them about, the tracks are a tiny bit too short as progressive, art rock or eclectic music fans prefer longer, more drawn out songs.

The first track News to the World was categorised by Boyce as plain Metal, but I'd much rather put it in the AOR box myself. It's a straightforward song, with a high potential as driving music. A nice melody goes straight into your ears and sticks there until the end.

Tracks 2 and 3 have a little more progressiveness in their veins, leaning just a little more towards Dream Theater, but it's absolutely not in the same category. Entertaining guitar work, nice bass lines and drum patterns but nothing spectacular.

With I'm The show Tonight Boyce introduces what he calls Dance Metal. Curiosity took hold of me as to what to expect here. In the '70s and later we got to know this genre as Glam rock. The song is well written and the performance suiting the Glam rock is taken a bit more to the metal corner.

I have no intention of repeating myself therefore I will refrain from doing a track by track review as that would mean recurrences of my remarks. I do want to add that the acoustic guitars in Don't Believe A Word and the more folky intonation of the song does its work very well.

I would like to conclude by stating that this is an entertaining album although the song structures and musicality are - without doing it an injustice - about average. There are a lot of other bands out there doing very much the same thing.

The album leans more to AOR than it should. There are progressive edges but not that much. A great listen, enjoyable and a safe buy.

Conclusion: 6 out of 10

GERT HULSHOF


Red Bazar - After the Ice Storm EP
Red Bazar - After the Ice Storm EP
Country of Origin:U.K.
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:n/a
Year of Release:2013
Time:24:23
Info:Red Bazar
Samples:Red Bazar
Tracklist: The Fixer (6:56), Down Too (4:55), Intoxication (12:34)

Nottingham based instrumental trio Red Bazar return! After their first two releases, Connections and Differential Being, each of which last just under an hour, the threesome return with something of an intermezzo, a three-track EP, lasting just 24 minutes. Without trying to sound acrimonious, it's probably a good thing the boys kept this release short, as I'm not sure whether I could listen to a full album of this.

At seven minutes, the main riff behind The Fixer smacks of the Doctor Who theme, with a pulsating keyboard played at breakneck speeds. The band then pull away so that Andy Wilson can embark on a dextrous guitar solo. Paul Comerie's drums are incredibly tight here. Down Too is a more straightforward rock instrumental, with a simple-sounding structure. However, the twist comes at the final minute when rock is exchanged with heavy metal.

Longer than the first two tracks combined, Intoxication dominates the EP, in both length and style. Fortunately, this is the most adventurous track on the album, and sees the band employ a bit of maturity; unlike the previous tracks, the band choose to vary the dynamics, with quiet sections contrasting with louder parts. The drums and bass actually make this piece quite funky, and it's remarkable unflashy nature gives the band some credibility. I was quite content to listen to this band for less than half an hour, and I think EPs could be the way to go for Red Bazar.

Conclusion: 6 out of 10

BASIL FRANCIS

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