Album Reviews

Issue 2014-066

Deep Limbic System - The Embryo

Deep Limbic System - The Embryo
Country of Origin: Mexico
Format: CD/Digital
Record Label: Independent
Catalogue #: n/a
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 28:31
Info: Deep Limbic System
Samples: Deep Limbic System at Bandcamp
Track List:
Amniotic (1:56); Dysania (6:02); Orison (9:24); Owls (3:21); Farewell (7:46)
Let's not beat around the bush here. This debut offering from Mexican band Deep Limbic System, is the best European-style crossover progrock album of the year. Formed in late 2012 as an amalgamation of various projects, this band combines a number of different progressive stylings, to create music packed with emotion, colour and unforgettable melodies. It's not a showy, complex album. The Embryo just oozes with class and style. It is hard to believe that this mini-album, is their first.

We open with Amniotic which possesses the most sultry sax solo you're ever likely to hear. The playing of guest musician Beto Valtierra crops up on three tracks, but this first serving is the perfect build-up to the real opening track.

The songwriting on this disc takes the classic Prog blueprint of creating a rhythmic melody and allowing it to slowly morph and evolve as the song progresses. Most of the songs are actually a combination of three of four distinct phases.

Dysania uses that template well. It begins gently, with some deft touches of Prog-style piano, guitar and organ. The vocals have a hint of melancholy. The voice controls the short mid-section with a very Riverside vibe. The song then has a very distinct transition, as it develops the initial guitar riff into the album's heaviest instrumental section.

At nine-and-a-half minutes, Orison is the central track and also the centrepiece of the album. The band opens first with a delicate acoustic and then a flowing electric guitar, before another gorgeous sax solo. That's the intro! The slow, reflective pace is retained, with Sergio Sunga's slightly breathy vocal taking us through the verse and chorus. Below, a piano takes up the initial acoustic guitar melody.

A sudden burst of bass announces the third phase of the song. It takes the same basic rhythmic refrain but first with a dreamy atmosphere under a keyboard veil, and then with a crisp bounce to the beat. Very clever. This then fades as a solo piano brings forward a closing refrain.

Owls shows that the band can do stripped-down-simple too. Acoustic guitar and voice with piano and a Caribbean lilt to the percussion. Beautiful.

Farewell brings in a few more ideas whilst sounding like early-period Riverside or latter-period Believe. There is a bit of organ, another burst of sax, and another emotion-packed guitar solo. The chorus is utterly gorgeous. This is possibly my favourite song of the year.

Initially The Embryo was just a digital release. However the band was prompted by demand from new fans across the world to produce a CD-version. Only 500 have been produced. So you'd better get in there quick.

As for scoring? I've given this a bit of thought. Is this an EP or a mini album? At nearly 30 minutes, I'll go for the latter. Even with that, should a mini album ever get a perfect score? After all, a perfect score means a perfect disc. I've gone back to The Embryo many, many times over the past few months. I try to find faults, but instead this album just keeps getting better.

In my humble opinion, Deep Limbic System has created as perfect a mini album as I am ever likely to hear. It will probably be my album of the year. Thus it is the worthy recipient of my only DPRP 10 out of 10 for 2014.
Conclusion: 10 out of 10

Delain - The Human Contradiction

Delain - The Human Contradiction
Country of Origin: The Netherlands
Format: CD
Record Label: Napalm Records
Catalogue #: n/a
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 42:58
Info: Delain
Samples: Delain website
Track List:
Here come the Vultures (6:13), Your Body is a Battleground (3:56), Stardust (4:02), My Masquerade (3:48), Tell me, Mechanist (4:59), Sing to me (5:15), Army of Dolls (5:04), Lullaby (5:03), The Tragedy of the Commons (4:38)
Delain is a representative of the Dutch female-fronted rock scene, firmly rooted in the gothic style. Founder Martijn Westerholt started his professional musical career as keyboardist in Within Temptation but after recovering from a nasty illness he called it a day and started his own band Delain.

The Human Contradiction is their fourth studio release. I haven't heard its' predecessor, We Are The Others but I really liked their debut Lucidity and even more their 'difficult' second outing, April Rain. That was a beautiful album full of nice, albeit somewhat poppy songs, with loads of variation like full orchestration, lazy cellos, melancholic keyboards, strong guitar riffing and above all the angelic voice of Charlotte Wessels. It was recommended on this site and quite rightly so.

It is sad to say that in nearly all the aspects mentioned, The Human Contradiction is nothing less than a big disappointment. Charlotte's singing is still very good but gone are the varied arrangements, the subtle keys, the atmospheric cellos and the orchestra. Instead it is all loud, low-stemmed guitars and heavy bass and drums, interspersed with the occasional grunts and screams. Even worse is that the melodies are quite mediocre; there are too few songs that stick to your mind.

The opening track, Here come the Vultures is very promising though. Over some clinging, bell-like keys and a nice piano, the soft voice of Wessels opens this melodious song, giving way to a heavy riff after almost a minute. That riff is attractive and carries the entire song. It's really an appetizer; so you are inquisitive to get to know the rest of the album.

Too bad that things immediately deteriorate. Your Body is a Battleground, is a simple, straightforward rock song in which the raw vocals of Marco Hietala (Nightwish) dominate. Nothing proggy here, just straightforward hard rock with some small pieces of keyboard. Stardust has some nice keyboard sounds in between the guitars and a rather catchy chorus, but it is far too simple to hold your attention.

Yet it is not as bad as My Masquerade which has a chorus that is so simple and lacks so much creativity, that it made me wonder if this was really meant to be taken seriously. A ridiculous song. An offence for the listener. George Oosthoek then grunts his way through Tell Me, Mechanist which makes this rather nice song very unattractive.

Sing to Me is a better song featuring Marco Hietala again and here his contribution works well. A driving melody of bass, guitar and drums and the combination of the female and male voices, with a short (too short!) keyboard solo, makes this another stand-out track and another proof that Delain has the ability to match Within Temptation or even Nightwish.

In Army of Dolls the melody is not as catchy but at least there is some variation in tempo, some space in the quiet, middle section and at last a real, but far too short, guitar solo. Lullaby is another mediocre song with a easy-to-forget melody featuring lots of guitar riffs and hardly audible keys in the background.

Finally we have The Tragedy of the Commons, a slower song with Wessels singing quite high, like a classically-trained soprano. The band should have left it like that, for then it would have been a nice song. But instead they decided to bring in Alissa White-Gluz, whose screams totally destroy the overall feeling of this song. A real shame actually.

Compared to April Rain, The Human Contradiction is a huge step backwards for Delain. As they like to profile themselves as a symphonic band they should keep in mind that playing music that is almost devoid of subtlety or variation won't bring them many followers in the progressive music scene. They have proven able to write varied melodies but not so on this album. The lack in variation of the instrumentation (where are the solo guitars, the cello or the orchestra?), the introduction of grunting and screaming and the obvious lack of inspiration to record songs with a range of different feelings, makes this a loud but dull album.

It looks as if Delain has more or less chosen to take the same path as Within Temptation with its latest and disappointing album Hydra. It may be good news for the metal fans, but for those who love to hear progressive elements in gothic, female-fronted bands, then Delain has lost most of their attractiveness with this album.
Conclusion: 5 out of 10

Hostsonaten - The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Chapter 1

Hostsonaten - The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Chapter 1
Country of Origin: Italy
Format: CD
Record Label: AMS records
Catalogue #: AMS 208 CD
Year of Release: 2012
Time: 58:58
Info: Hostsonaten
Samples: Hostsonaten at Bandcamp
Track List:
Prologue (7:01), part one (12:26), part two (9:10), part three (16:53), part four (13:30)
Fabio Zuffanti is a renowned name within the progressive rock scene. Back in 2012 he had already released an album through one of his many other projects, and with Hostsonaten he had already recorded several discs, all concept albums.

A review for The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Chapter 1 is somewhat over due. However, not to review an album of this caliber would be a shame.

The story or poem the album is based upon was written by an Englishman called Samuel Taylor-Coleridge and dates back to 1798. If you take the time to read it, you will find it's a magnificent long poem.

Fabio Zuffanti is not the first to try and put this poem to music. A classic poem needs classical music, or at least music that does justice to the written words. In my humble opinion Fabio has really succeeded in doing this for Chapter 1. The instrumentation and arrangements leave little to no doubt that all efforts have been undertaken to really tell the story of the sailor (mariner) out on his travels.

The cast of musicians is another well thought-out line-up. No less than five different vocalists have been used: Alessandro Corvaglia, Carlo Carnevali, Davide Merletto, Marco Dogliotti and Simona Angioloni. Only Alessandro gets to appear twice, in part 1 and part 4. The other musicians involved are: Joanne Roan, Sylvia Trabucco, Edmondo Romano, Matteo Nahum, Luca Scherani, Maurizio Di Tollo and of course the mastermind Fabio Zuffanti himself.

In the prologue you get a clear picture of what you are in for. The theme is rolled out and leaves no doubts whatsoever. Each of the four parts deals with a section of the poem. However at the end you realise that another album is needed to finish the story. I can only hope such an album will see the light of day.

Progressive rock of course leans much towards classical music when performed at its best. Opera and operette bring vocals to the classical music. Progressive rock at its most expressive, comes close when a concept like ... The Mariner is performed.

In 2013 ... The Mariner was performed live by Zuffanti and friends. If only I could have witnessed that. Such a magnificent piece of music. The use of bagpipes, bodhrán and many different types of keys all make this a true work of art.

It's an orchestral piece of classic progressive rock. I seldom have heard it better and really is an essential piece that needs to be in all prog rock collections. The album is available on Zuffanti's own Bandcamp page. Just listen.

Conclusion: 9.5 out of 10

Kant Freud Kafka - No tengas miedo

Kant Freud Kafka - No tengas miedo
Country of Origin: Spain
Format: CD
Record Label: independent
Catalogue #: n/a
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 55:06
Info: Kant Freud Kafka
Samples: Kant Freud Kafka at Bandcamp
Track List:
Principio (7:44), Dama (12:33), Viajes (7:52), Antítesis (16:02), Hombre (10:55)
This is not an ordinary album, so not an ordinary review. And that is a good thing as it looks like something progressive. That also makes No tengas miedo a hard and challenging album to review.

Welcome to the world of the Kant Freud Kafka project, delivered to you by Javi Herrera. Think of a mixture of classical compositions, jazzy influences, rhythm sections, trays full of synths and rocking guitars. Kant Freud Kafka conceives all of these elements and blends them in such a way that it is still possible to recognise the Latin parts from the 19th century oppressive, classical parts. There is screaming guitar or some serene piano play connecting it all with added violin and lots and lots of other solo instruments. Yes, it is all very difficult indeed.

Composer Javi Herrera does have it all under control perfectly though. It stays beautiful, amazing and binding at all times. This is quite remarkable, as this is his first album. The many years he spent on this piece of art, has worked out successfully.

Mixed into the musical the works are the thoughts of philosopher Kant, the psycho-analyses of Freud and the intriguing books of Kafka. Hence the name of this band / project. However there are no really dark feelings here, it's quiet, relaxing and even cheerful sometimes. Maybe some guitar solos reflect the anger of undesirable behaviour, but I think it mostly does make one feel happy.

Viajes builds its strength on great synths, as does Antíthesis, which might be the most accessible track on the album. Every now and then I feel some of The Enid, and that is a good thing. But forget that, this is Herrera adding his own mix of feelings, with a host of helping hands on all the classical and non-classical instruments. Because of the very different styles he utilizes plus the many ideas and choices of instruments, there is not a second to miss on this album. That may seem stressful, however you should not forget that one can listen to this in an 'easy listening' way as well (although that would not be my preferred way).

I could go on to describe every track, what instruments you can hear and what feelings you should get, but as this should be classified as intense personal music, it won't help anyone in doing so. This review should help you out on whether or not you should take the step to investigate further. What I can and will say is that this is a highly recommended album if you are not afraid of crossing the lines of the ordinary. Listen closely and it will conquer your heart.
Conclusion: 8 out of 10

Earl Long - The Malaka Sessions

Earl Long - The Malaka Sessions
Country of Origin: USA
Format: CD/download
Record Label: shangorilla records
Catalogue #: SG10007
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 28:39
Info: n/a
Samples: Earl Long at Bandcamp
Track List:
Hommage To A.S.(2:35), Lobster Man (3:19), Jumbo Glitter Shaker (5:15), Slowly Bleeding Brain (3:20), Malaka Malaka (4:09), A production of the mississippi Center (2:45), Purvis (7:17)
Musicians present at these sessions include: Ray Bong, Brian Bromberg, Suzy Creamcheese, Ivana Louvier and Chris Winter. The Malaka Sessions is the second outing of the musicians named above. Earl Long brings experimental, psychedelic, minimalistic music consisting of seven tracks and clocking-in at just under 30 minutes. This is an exhausting 30 minutes.

I do usually listen to a lot of varying kinds of music, from avant-garde to doom metal.

Somewhere in these categories Earl Long belongs as well, although I do not know which yet.

I like it when I can make something out of the music I hear. My experience with this recording by Earl Long is quiet different I hear sound and noise but find no coherence. This is not something I would listen to more often, neither will I be able to recommend it to anyone. For me it's plain and simple music best left at home until it is a bit riper for release.

Conclusion: 3 out of 10

Majestic - Epsilon I

Majestic - Epsilon I
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Format: CD
Record Label: independent
Catalogue #:
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 54:41
Info: Majestic
Samples: Majestic website
Track List:
Chariots (11:10), Mother Dearest (9:29), Starlight (10:20), Epsilon I. Event Horizon (8:42), Epsilon II. Doorways (7:38), Epsilon III. Samskaras (7:22)
Jeff Hamel was the former guitarist in the American metal band Osmium in the 80s. The band existed for about ten years and after that Jeff took a long break from music. After that break he was fully charged again and ready to entertain everyone with his newly written material.

That music turned out to be quite progressive. It resulted in the album Descension (2007) and since then he has released a new album almost every year! In 2014 that has lead to the release of Epsilon I. The second part of this musical story called, surprisingly enough, Epsilon II will also be released this year. On the first Epsilon album, multi-instrumentalist Hamel (guitar, bass and keys) is assisted by his loyal companions Mike Kosacek (drums) and the vocalists David Cagle (Liberty & Justice), Celine Derval (Scythia) and Chris Hodges (Every Living Soul), who were also present on the 2012 album V.O.Z.

On this album, a vocalist we all know joins the ranks: Marc Atkinson (Riversea, Nine Stones Close and Mandalaband). Hamel gets his inspiration from artists like Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield, Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, Black Sabbath, Ayreon, The Alan Parsons Project and Joe Satriani. This leads to a mixture of styles such as progressive rock, metal, psychedelic rock, space rock and folk music. The songs all have a playing time from seven to more than eleven minutes, so there is plenty of time to mix all those influences in one track. Most important, what about this album? Is it any good? The answer to that question is a definite 'Yes'.

Chariots is the first and longest track on the album and the track I like the least, mainly because I like the other vocalists more than Chris Hodges.

Mother Dearest has the typical organ sounds like bands in the 60s and 70s and on this track Celine Derval, the only female lead vocalist on the album, delights us with strong vocals. It develops into a quite heavy rock song, with psychedelic elements and towards the end there's a nice sing-along chorus.

Starlight is the track where we can hear the pleasant voice of Marc Atkinson together with atmospheric sounds on the keyboards. His voice alone takes this track to an even higher level. In the last minutes of the track, Hamel gets some time to showcase his skills on guitar before the song fades out with the whispering voice of Atkinson.

The last three tracks can be seen as one title track. It's a combination of the excellent singer David Cagle, some beautiful keyboard sounds and some stunning soloing on guitar by Hamel, especially in Epsilon II and III. Furthermore the recording sounds great, so we can conclude that Hamel has succeeded in making another great album that will be enjoyed by many proggers.
Conclusion: 8.5 out of 10

Majestic - Epsilon II

Majestic - Epsilon 2
Country of Origin: USA
Format: CD
Record Label: Majestic Songs
Catalogue #: n/a
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 62:00
Info: Majestic
Samples: Majestic at Bandcamp
Track List:
Epsilon IV – Generations (5:32), Epsilon V – The River (Eridanus) (10:30), Epsilon VI – Incandescence (7:49), Epsilon VII – Ancient Echo (5:12), Epsilon VIII – The Journey Back (6:10), Epsilon IX – Welcome Home (2:15), Epsilon X – Convergence (11:55), Epsilon XI – Rise (6:38) , Epsilon XII – Fade (6:07)
Having my own modest home studio, I'm always amazed at the quality of musicianship and compositional skills of basically amateur "bedroom musicians" who are just as good, or even better, than those who make a professional living out of music.

The main man behind this musical project, Jeff Hamel, is no exception. He is one very gifted musician and songsmith. Jeff is part of a recording project called Proximal Distance where he and fellow musician Gregg Johns (Slychosis) can collaborate over the internet. Check out for more information.

It is hard to pigeon-hole this Minneapolis musical effort in terms of the progressive genre. It is an accretion of musical styles and influences, ranging from symphonic through to heavy metal, prog metal. I can hear shades of Transatlantic, Porcupine Tree and Dream Theater. Neo-prog is probably the closest genre but there are many hues of symphonic and space rock sprinkled throughout as well.

Until having to review this CD, I'd never heard of Majestic. This is the second of a two-part space odyssey that's loosely based upon the star Epsilon which forms part of the Eridanus (The River) constellation. The two CD concept tells the story of a primitive civilisation that worships its sun and discovers that its roots are from another, very distant world whose sun caused their demise. According to Jeff there are some other meanings built into the lyrics but it's up to the listener to interpret them and to formulate their own meaning.

I think it was Magenta's Rob Reed who said that a great prog track can be reduced to a mediocre rendering, if an average vocal is used for the music. This is a mistake made by many "one man" bands. With Majestic this is thankfully not the case since the vocals on Epsilon 2 are bordering on excellent. There are three vocalists used on this album: Chris Hodges, Jessica Rasche and David Cagle.

Jessica sings lead vocals on track 6, the shortest song on the album, which reminded me of Mostly Autumn. A simple, melodic ballad which also features good harmonies over a busy guitar solo. Jessica has a very fine voice but I think using Chris and David as the main singers, gives the album some extra gravitas.

Chris appears to get the lion's share of singing duties and has lead vocals on tracks 2, 3, 7 and 8 - and boy does he have a great voice. For example in track 7, Epsilon X - Convergence he sings a beautiful, heart-felt delivery as if the lyrics have some personal meaning. This song is exceptional neo-prog. It slowly builds into a crescendo of sound with some great guitar playing before suddenly entering a sort of jazzy interlude, before the crescendo resumes with more menace: aggressive sounding vocals, power chords over good drumming. This, for me, is the best track on the album.

David sings on two tracks: 4 and 7. Once again his is another great voice. I don't know how Jeff chooses between them for singing duties. Track 4 opens with cinematic synth strings before David enters. Once again a superb vocal delivery that simply takes this song up a few notches. In parts he is accompanied by electric piano and jangly guitar. The songs end with some very neat percussion. A great track.

There is plenty of scintillating guitar work from Jeff throughout the album. Probably the best, is his solo in track 7, which just fits the music perfectly and enters at the right moment. On keys, Jeff is very competent but personally I would have appreciated more up-front synth and organ solos in the vein of Neal Morse. Jeff conjures up some great atmospheric and aural delights on all of the songs with his guitar and keyboard playing.

Mike Kosacek's drumming is very good on this album and it certainly adds to the dynamics of the material. He excels in many songs but for me his best work is in track 8. This song is probably the rockiest of the album and features more great guitar work from Jeff. Not my favourite track, but I can see other progsters who like Deep Purple and Rush enjoying this song. Although the bass playing is OK over the whole album, and on a negative note, I felt it was a bit subdued and never really given any prominence in the mix. It would have been great to hear some Geddy Lee type bass runs to give the music some more gravitas.

Although Track 1 has the type pf symphonic opening that a band like Transatlantic would be proud of, it then enters a prolonged heavy power chord-driven phase which would have worked for me if the drumming and bass playing had been a bit more inventive to keep me interested.

Initially, while listening to the first track, I thought that this band was going to be a contradiction in musical terms, in the sense that they weren't sure what they were or wanted to be and thus I was going to be disappointed. However, everything that followed made for enjoyable listening.

This is a very good album indeed and definitely worth checking out. I take my hat off to Jeff, and his efforts to create something very magical. As for the old DPRP neo-prog-come-symphonic Prog-o-meter, I score this a very respectable 8.
Conclusion: 8 out of 10

Le Porte Non Aperte - Golem

Le Porte Non Aperte - Golem
Country of Origin: Italy
Format: CD/Digital
Record Label: MA-RA CAsh
Catalogue #: MRC 032
Year of Release: 2013
Time: 61:09
Info: Le Porte Non Aperte
Samples: Le Porte Non Aperte at Bandcamp
Track List:
Preludio Al Sogno (2:05), Il Re Del Niente (6:04), La Citta Delle Terrazze (6:33), Binario 8 (5:07), Il Vicolo Dei Miracoli (3:02), Nemesi (1:25), Rigattiere Dei Sogni Infranti (4:26), Oceano – Nel Canto Della Sirena (9:55), Giardini Di Sabbia (3:46), Animale Dei Deserto (9:04), Imprevedibilita (9:47)
Rock progressivo italiano (RPI) albums traditionally evolve around a certain theme or concept. Golem is no different. The album upholds the RPI tradition, finding itself on the louder, heavier side of the sub-genre, with a nod and a wink to the 1970s of progressive rock.

Founded in 2007, it took until 2013 for this band, consisting of Sandro Parrinello (vocals, piano, guitar), Marco Brenzini (flute), Jacopo Fallai (guitar), Filippo Mattioli (keyboards), Guilio Capitano Sieni (drums, percussion) and Daniele Cancellara (bass) to release its debut album.

Golem is Jewish and has several meanings. Spelt slightly differently 'Choloum' translates as a dream. Around a dream, the weirdest of stories can come to life which in its turn brings us to a more historical meaning of Golem. In history Golem is a weird creature made from stone or clay and, as the legend goes, brought to life.

When you do more research on the word you will no doubt find more meanings. Golem also was a group of fanatics in the 60s/70s in Italy that tried to change the way of living.

Now to the music. Golem is a collection of songs glued together as a dream. Musically it is also full of oddities. Brenzini's flute playing resembles Ian Anderson's, thus giving several songs a Jethro Tull feel. The piano play and keyboard wizardry of Sandro and Filippo takes us to the music of Banco or other Italian legends. The heaviness of the music and the rough edges sound more like the English acts of the 70s like Deep Purple, ELP or Uriah Heep.

Golem is a new album, but if I were told this was an album with its origins in the 70s I would absolutely have had no-doubts of this being true. This debut album has become one crazy album. With some weird, edgy music the vocals are impossible, at least unusual. You really need to listen to get used to them. The music has sometimes a little tendency to become psychedelic, to sound a little chaotic. It is heavy RPI with the music greatly concentrated around the guitars and keyboards with a steady, heavy backbeat.

Lyrically I cannot say too much about the album as my Italian is not good enough but as a whole it sounds great. The artwork makes the retro feel of the album complete. It maybe even indicates the type of music you can expect on the album.

Golem is an album for the RPI fan with a more heavy taste to their music. It has a distinct retro feel about it and it really takes some time to get into. Most likely the first spin will have you put the album aside.

If you listen more than once the doors will open and the music will reveal itself to you. You will come to like Golem.
Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10

Proud Peasant - Flight

Proud Peasant - Flight
Country of Origin: USA
Format: CD
Record Label: Basement Avatar Records
Catalogue #: BAR001
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 45:22
Info: Proud Peasant
Samples: Proud Peasant at Bandcamp
Track List:
The Prisoner (12:28), Awakenings (19:34), The Precipice (13:20)
Proud Peasant is the offspring of Xander Rapstine, who started his idea to release music he found not suitable for the band he had been in since its start; The Evildoers.

Xander had thought of doing something musically different, before comprising his band and the current Proud Peasant, he had already composed and arranged three instrumentals. After a while he thought of recording his compositions, and for that purpose he recruited Jay Allen (keyboards), David Hobizal (drums) and Kyle Robarge (bass). And so Flight, Proud Peasant's debut album came to life. An album of only three tracks, yet 45 minutes long.

Flight starts with the track The Prisoner which opens with acoustic guitar and a classical piece with a catchy melody. Slowly but steadily the track evolves into a more mature song as more instruments join to create a full rocking sound. A dreamy atmosphere is created with electric guitars, almost halfway through a tuba enters to continue the song joined by military drumming. After a short period more wind instruments follow as if we are now in a classical fairytale. We end it all with the spoken words: "presenting us the keys to the kingdom".

The next track kicks in with acoustic guitar again, but is then quickly joined by church organ and fiercely played guitars. Awakenings is a bit faster paced but still has the dreamy feel of The Prisoner. The arrangements are well thought out but not remarkable. The use melodica and ukelele give it more cache. Then a choir sets in bringing the complete tune even closer to a chamber music ensemble. It is a nice twist in a track that in the end for me is just a bit too long.

The third track on the album is called The Precipice and it bangs open the door instantly with a drumbeat making it the rockiest of the three tracks. Again Proud Peasant tries to create a dreamy atmosphere. They do not really succeed as the drumbeat is too present to let the listener float off in a dream world.

Overall I believe that Proud Peasant can be proud of their achievement. Flight has become a fine debut album, which I did enjoy very much and hope it will be followed by a second album before not too long.
Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10

United Progressive Fraternity - Fall in Love with The World

United Progressive Fraternity - Fall in Love with The world
Country of Origin: Australia / UK
Format: CD
Record Label: Inside Out
Catalogue #:
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 68:20
Info: United Progressive Fraternity
Samples: Click here!!!
Track List:
We Only Get One World (Overture) (4:01), Choices (8:32), Intersection (8:58), The Water (5:21), Don't Look Back – Turn Left (5:36), Travelling Man (The Story of ESHU) (21:41), Fall in Love with the World (4:35), The Religion of War (3:49), The Water (Alternative Mix – CD Only) (5:47).
Well what an amazing year it's been for new music. From established bands, it's been a year that's seen new releases from Yes, Genesis (ok it's another compilation) and even Pink Floyd (yes it's outtakes). There have also been some astounding new releases from the likes of Heliopolis. To that stellar roll-call please add this album by the United Progressive Fraternity, which is quite simply stunning.

Take one part of Unitopia (Mark "Truey" Trueack), the legendary Guy Manning and add in various others including Daniel Mash (The Tangent and Maschine) and Marek Arnold (Toxic Smile) and you have a cast of fabulous musicians who give this album life, breadth and depth.

This is both a very organic and holistic album, not without a degree of spirituality in tandem with an ecological slant which sounds like it could be a load of old "new age aerie fairy nonsense". Thankfully it manages to avoid such pitfalls and instead offers a truly remarkable album with some outstanding songs and some very different instrumentation, with insightful and at times challenging lyrics.

When you add majestic artwork from the ever brilliant Ed Unitsky then you have all the components in place for a great listening and visual treat. I for one am certainly impressed, as indeed was one Jon Anderson, a man who needs no introduction I'm sure. He guests on the song Water, bringing his own unique vocalisations to a superb song.

Opening track, The Overture, begins very world-sounding and filmic in scope and has an almost Kashmir-type stride to it. A very stylish and suitable opener, it is mainly instrumental apart from a "one world" in the latter stages. It also works in setting the listener up for what follows.

Choices opens with tribal drums and ethnic sounds and a spoken voiceover of "water is life", before a brutal guitar riff kicks in. With vocals being shared between Guy Manning and Mark Trueack, this has a balanced sound with a great chorus too.

There is a fantastic use of light and dark, heavy and soft passages throughout this disc and a fantastic attention to detail. In using a vast array of sounds and instruments they have crafted something very special indeed. There is also a great sound to this album - a 5.1 mix would be amazing I think.

Intersection is next, and against more drums we have woodwind playing an almost jazz melody before Mark's vocals come in. This song has a delicate and light backing sound, initially percolating under the vocal, before reaching the chorus of 'how long will you stand in my way?'

As always Mark Trueack's vocals are clear and emotive. He has a unique, fine and clear voice, like a prog Paul Carrack, and is ably backed by a very tight and accomplished band - and this is only their debut album.

I think it's pretty fair to say that I am highly, highly impressed by this disc. It is different, it's intelligent and articulate, and above all it's imaginative and captures your interest and attention and keeps it throughout. The instrumentation is absolutely top notch and every track works well and fuses into a cohesive whole.

Water follows in it's original variant, although to be fair I also love the 'alternative version' as it offers a different voicing and interpretation of what is an excellent song. It opens with thunder and the sound of running water, before a plaintive Truey vocal challenges our perception and world views. There is a middle eastern sound to it, evoking images of sand dunes and camels before a powerful chorus and the interjections of Jon Anderson add to this memorable song. Highly impressive stuff. Ecological prog?

Don't look back – Turn Left follows with simple opening chords and a voice from a sat nav, before a jazzy saxophone intro leads us into the main vocal part. The chorus is another fine one; well crafted. The line "sometimes a journey can take you far away and suddenly you're lost" is both poetic and insightful, but this album of full of clever word-play.

Travelling Man is the epic of this album and what an epic it is. If you enjoyed the Unitopia epics like Journey's Friend then you will adore this one too. It offers differing passages, each of which add greatly, making it significantly more than the sum of its parts.

We have some great acoustic guitar from Guy Manning set to a great melody line, it also has some serious crunch at various junctures. The use of varying instruments adds to its majestic nature and mood. There is a lively clarinet part and a great guitar riff too that plays in harmony with it, unusual but effective. There is an achingly beautiful flute melody at the 5:15 mark, before the song goes down a gear to an emotive, Truey vocal, before a challenging vocal chant of 'Esau, who are you?'

I think it is the contrast between sections, ideas and approaches that makes this song so splendid. This is a song you must hear for yourself.

The next song Fall in Love with the World vies with Shine by Transatlantic and Peaceful Harbour by Flying Colors as my favourite prog song of the year.

It is to my ears at least, simply beautiful and inspirational and a wonderfully written piece. It has a chorus that stands head and shoulders above anything that troubles 'the charts' these days. It moves me every time I hear it. It isn't sentimental slush though, but rather a heartfelt cry for us to love this wonderful world we call home.

The last song, apart from the Water remix, is Religion of War. This is different again, chugging along on a simple riff, challenging us about the futility and pointless nature of war.

Well I'm sold. I think this is brilliant stuff and totally indispensable to my way of thinking. I know this will be in my Top 5 or even Top 3 albums of the year. So for only the second time in my DPRP times, I award this album a staggering 10 out of 10.
Conclusion: 10 out of 10
Album Reviews