Album Reviews

Issue 2020-058: Fleesh Special

Thinking of Brazil, I confess I'm rather quickly at a loss when it comes to prog, with only a few artists coming to mind (Corciolli, Kaizen), alongside better known metal-orientated bands like Sepultura and Angra, of which the latter brings back many happy memories. Being one of the world's biggest nations (ranked sixth in the scale of country sizes, with 210 million inhabitants), there's still only a fraction of prog seeping through towards Europe, and in terms of exported music, only flashes of samba light a fuse.

In high popular demand from a tourism point of view, Brazil contains favourable attractions like a beautiful rainforest, the Amazon river, a rich cultural history, and several major cities like Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia. Add to this the unsurpassed carnival festivities and their world-famous football team spawning legends like Pele, Socrates and Romario and it's easy to understand why the country scores big on many levels of play.

From a prog sense there's all kind of trades and influences going inland, yet the amount of prog export offshore, at least to my knowledge, can be counted on a pair of hands. And before anyone starts to write letters of complaints, I made the same mistake with India, so I hope I'm proven wrong (please do!). So what better way to get acquainted than through a special on Fleesh, a Brazilian rock project featuring Gabby Vessoni (vocals) and Celo Oliveira (all instruments), founded in 2014.

For chronology, the albums are ranked in the same order as on their official Bandcamp site, starting from My Real Life, with two exceptions. The first exception are the two individual covers of Season's End and Script For A Jester's Tear by Marillion, which are also included on the album Script For A New Season (A Marillion Tribute) and for obvious reasons will be reviewed there. Second, Versions is an all-encompassing collection of cover songs recorded by Fleesh from 2015, which is still continued today. The significant importance of this "never-ending" tribute-album can however be traced back as far as 2015-2016, and is therefore placed following their debut album My Real Life. Allons-y!

Fleesh promo photo Fleesh promo photo

Fleesh — My Real Life

Fleesh - My Real Life
Butterflies (4:21), Come To Me (4:48), Circus (4:38), Messed Up (3:39), Erase Me (3:53), Forgive Me (4:48), Capitalism (3:25), Forever (4:15), My Real Life (3:43), Hello (4:13)
Jan Buddenberg

My Real Life is the first outing from Fleesh, released a year after their foundation in 2014. This early album is their least 'prog' offering, as it wades mostly in the singer/songwriter genre. Something that's beautifully demonstrated by tracks like Butterflies, Come To Me and Erase Me, each surrounded by a wonderful pop sense bringing to mind a relaxed and attractive alternative indie pop feel mindful to Alanis Morissette.

Overall the feel of the album breaths a slightly less-happy atmosphere, for Gabby Vessoni's excellent vocals are blessed by an outer melancholy that's deepening, soothing and mesmerising at the same time, adding extensive drama within the context of the songs. Hers is a bright and shining voice that proves to be a perfect fit to the easily-approachable, radio-friendly compositions written and executed by Celo Oliviera, who doesn't yet show a particular preference to a specific instrument (contrary as to what can heard on later albums).

However, being the first offering, it does already show a very gifted and talented musician who has managed to create precious miniature pop songs flowing through refined textures, with natural melodies harbouring a richness in detail. In the uptempo tracks like My Real Life, Forever and Hello this is reminiscent to All About Eve's Touched By Jesus.

The slight psychedelic touches in Circus and brooding, emotive sensitivity of Forgive Me and Capitalism adds further variety, while the album sees a cautious prog highlight in the energetic and rocking Messed Up. A short and delicious composition, it goes through the emotions via psychedelic guitars and organ, that reveal layers of melodies and diverse instrumentation, delicately alternating with passionate movements and a playful bridge. It captures the songwriting quality of Fleesh most splendidly, acting as a precursor to the inspired prog caresses found on What I've Found.

A promising debut which from a prog point of view is of limited interest, but having said that, it is most certainly recommended for those enjoying good music with an infectious, alternative indie pop/rock vibe.

Fleesh — Versions

Fleesh - Versions
Opening Out (Renaissance) (4:36), Dark Night Of The Soul (Loreena McKennitt) (4:00), Shadow Of The Hierophant (Steve Hackett) (8:51), The Beginning And The End (Anathema) (4:43), Your Own Special Way (Genesis) (6:12), One Year of Love (Queen) (4:26), Brother To Brother (Van Zant) (6:05), Heart Of Stone (Cher) (4:03), Two Coins (City and Colour) (5:25), Wond'ring Aloud (Jethro Tull) (1:55), The Final Cut (Pink Floyd) (4:58), Helpless (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) (3:34), Will O The Wisp feat. Gabriel Carvalho (Opeth) (5:02), Lifting Shadows Off A Dream (Dream Theater) (6:10), Send Me An Angel (Scorpions) (4:36), Rainbow Demon (Uriah Heep) (4:38), With This Heart (Kansas) (4:03), Book Of Saturday (King Crimson) (3:21), Play To The World (Barclay James Harvest) (7:37), Ashes Are Burning (Renaissance) (11:13), On The Turning Away (Pink Floyd) (5:25), Lady Of Dreams (Kitaro & Jon Anderson) (6:54), I Will Remember feat. Gus Monsanto (Toto) (6:01), Fields Of Gold (Sting) (3:36), Silent Lucidity (Queensrÿche) (5:46), Starless (King Crimson) (4:30), Wearing The Inside Out (Pink Floyd) (5:07), The Lamia (Genesis) (6:54), Toe The Line (GTR) (4:28), Ordinary World (Duran Duran) (4:42)
Jan Buddenberg

Following My Real Life, Fleesh decided to pay tribute to a wide variety of artists, primarily released on their Youtube channel. Not only did these visits warm their own Prog-hearts, it also proved to be a highly successful step, resulting in warm reactions from prog-fans all over the world. Up to the present day these tributes still run through Fleesh's veins like a red line, with many covers now accounted for. The first batch in this ongoing series of homages is gathered on Versions.

Being primarily a studio project, there is more than one way to pay tribute to an artist. For instance one can stay close and true to the original, or choose to give it an unsuspected twist/spin or add a specific unique artistic atmosphere. Showing the versatility of Fleesh, the 30-odd songs gathered on Versions combine a perfect blend of these three possibilities. The third option becomes more and more present as the album slowly progresses, with Gabby Vessoni's authentic vocals leaving a distinctive mark.

Because of her voice, certain songs need some necessary changes in their arrangements. In a track like One Year Of Love (Queen) this results in a completely reworked track, now with a far superior bluesy feel. This is fairly logical, as songs originally sung by Freddie Mercury don't always lend themselves to be interpreted by a female voice, (exceptions like the personally experienced musical renditions in Ben Elton's London-based musical We Will Rock You aside). In this particular case it also works like a charm, which can equally be stated for the almost unrecognisable Toe The Line (GTR) and other assorted tracks.

For the lion-part of the tracks, Fleesh stay close to the original, with subtle differences in instrumentation, differing arrangements and a restrained character. Similar to My Real Life, the impressive executions by Celo Oliviera stand out, having meticulously captured the essence of the compositions in their translation into a Fleesh cover. This approach works wonders in non-prog tracks like Heart Of Stone (Cher), Ordinary World (Duran, Duran) and Dark Night Of The Soul (Loreena McKennit). Not being particularly familiar with any of these tracks, the strikingly cohesive nature, atmosphere and beautiful renditions makes them blend perfectly within this great collection.

This "Fleesh effect" is a most excellent feature which even manages to elevate tracks like Play To The World which almost surpasses the original. Slowed down to approximately 23 rpm, or so it feels, it glides forward in a combination of increased sadness, melancholic melodies and caressing vocals that gives this beautiful Barclay James Harvest composition a wonderful depth, intensity and impact.

Next to this fine moment memorable songs like Starless (King Crimson), Silent Lucidity (Queensrÿche) and On The Turning Away (Pink Floyd) glide by just as naturally. The only skippable track is a cover version of Send Me An Angel (Scorpions) which, although doing fair justice to the song, still can't capture my imagination.

As these songs have been recorded over a certain period of time, one can hear the maturation of Vessoni's voice, ageing divinely and gaining expressiveness. A testimony to her increased versatility and vocal range can be found in the triumphant Ashes Are Burning (Renaissance). Parallel to this, Oliviera has found his stride by showcasing impressive guitar play, which sees a highlight in Steve Hackett's Shadow Of The Hierophant. All in all a great collection of loose tracks now securely bound together.

Between writing and publication of this review, Fleesh have already changed the contents of this Bandcamp album. Both Renaissance tracks are now solely to be found on the Renaissance tribute In The Mists Of Time and have been replaced by Holy Land feat. Gus Monsanto (Angra) and Red Rain (Peter Gabriel). When you read this, it might have changed again.

Fleesh — What I Found

Fleesh - What I Found
What I Found (5:03), Frankenstein (5:46), If I (5:28), System's Down (5:28), Dust (4:17), Run (5:15), Good Luck (4:01), Time Lapse (5:47), Reply (5:01), Blood On The Street (7:59)
Jan Buddenberg

During the creation of their tribute albums, Fleesh managed to find time to record their second album What I Found. Bearing in mind the success of their two highly-appreciated covers of Marillion (see Script For A New Season) they decided to insert several prog influences into their music, slowly moving away from their singer/songwriter style.

This is immediately heard in the opening title track, which shows delicate influences of Marillion and Pink Floyd. Similar in style to Clutching At Straws and Brave, some small sidesteps towards the epic melancholy as featured on Afraid Of Sunlight can also be traced, while the playful organ leaves a delightful Richard Wright (Pink Floyd) impression. The delicious guitar solo resembles David Gilmour as well. Frankenstein tops this by being a beautifully constructed composition, flowing through a subdued atmosphere supported by beautiful keyboard accents within a mindful Rush framework. The gracious guitar solo precedes a symphonic bridge, after which the rockier middle section shows some further Rush aspirations with fresh sparkling keys.

If I sees a prudent, soft return to their singer/songwriter style, although the added keyboard twinkles, Rothery guitar sound, excellent guitar solo and delicious violin insertions (Gabriel Teixeira) add joyous diversity. Likewise System's Down is one of the highlights of the album. At first, accents of Marillion and Genesis intertwine graciously as the composition shifts through various melodies. With gorgeous keyboards mindful to Steve Leigh (Landmarq) it soars into a divine, uptempo Genesis movement depicting Steve Hackett. The many inventive changes and tantalising keyboard solo conversing with guitar is just as heavenly, which can equally be stated for the beautiful expressive vocals by Gabby Vessoni.

The restrained Dust and elegant bluesy rock of Good Luck show Fleesh's perfect pop sense, where the emphasis lies towards the song. In comparison to My Real Life they have gained substantially more depth through additional instrumentation like keyboards and organ.

Initially flowing in the same familiar fashion, Run slowly converges though church organ and flute/Mellotron insertions into A Momentary Lapse Of Reason-like atmosphere. The majestic David Gilmour-inspired guitar solo that ends the track could have lasted an eternity, but is sadly turned away too quickly. Time Lapse makes up for it though, as it wades through subdued melancholy, surrounded by sparkling keyboards and a beautiful Steve Hackett solo.

Saving the best for last, Blood On The Street encompasses all the successful elements showcased so far. A refined, delicate Rush-like opening, slowly builds in intensity, supported by keys, over which Vessoni's enchanting vocals shine bright. With emotive guitars from Oliviera picking up over the melancholic symphonic layers it leads to an atmospheric bridge igniting thoughts of Barclay James Harvest. The gracious return to its prior structure is a divine touch, paving the way for an even bigger impact the second time around.

In relation to My Real Life the wider variety of highly-accomplished tracks, in combination with Oliviera's distinctive captivating guitars, give the music a much-desired layering and virtuosity. The perfectly fitting vocals of Vessoni, having gained confidence and strength, makes the difference between their debut as like night and day. The darker atmosphere and heavier intonation gives the album a lovely boost in subtle power. Overall a very recommendable and solid effort, continued in style on Across The Sea, their third album.

Fleesh — The Next Hemisphere (A Rush Tribute)

Fleesh - The Next Hemisphere (A Rush Tribute)
Limelight (4:20), The Stars Look Down (4:24), Closer To The Heart (2:55), Nobody's Hero (4:50), Losing It (4:52), Tears (3:39), Resist (4:11), The Way The Wind Blows (6:06), Here Again (7:05), The Trees (4:32), Mission (5:19), Bravado (4:31), The Pass (5:09), The Garden (6:57)
Jan Buddenberg

Without further ado Fleesh set out to release two tribute albums in 2018, of which The Next Hemisphere was the first to be released in March. Being kind of a Rush-addict myself since I discovered them during the Moving Pictures era, my initial expectations were low. The reasons for this are multiple, for during the past 40 years I have heard many covers and tributes done in various ways that were not always fulfilling. The numerous live-tribute bands paying their respect to one of the best rock bands this world has ever seen, sees some passionate devotees, but somehow there's an always missing link to the original.

The same goes for the Working Man tribute dating back to 1996 from Magna Carta records. This album contains a lovely assembly of songs that sees well-respected musicians try their hand at some iconic tracks, although with mixed results. I haven't got a clue as to when I played it last; for why turn to covers when you have the originals, that spark precious memories upon each revisit? Yet Fleesh manage to question such thoughts with this tribute.

One comforting aspect is the fact that they don't fall for the "let's do the iconic" tracks trap, which wouldn't be befitting Gabby Vessoni's female voice at all. Instead they offer only a few, through Limelight, Closer To The Heart and The Trees, surrounded by a great collection, that on the one hand captures the sound of Rush through immaculate instrumentation, and on the other turns out to be astonishing choices. Although afterwards these selections are not as surprising as one might predict, in light of Vessoni's voice.

From a musical point of view Celo Oliviera has pulled out all the stops, capturing the heart of Rush with utmost precision. Tracks like Limelight, Resist, Bravado and The Pass feel just as fresh as the originals, despite the slightly thinner production. Replication of Alex Lifeson's guitar sound is beautifully done and, in for instance The Way The Wind Blows, he manages to adequately pass the usual stumbling block when it comes to Neil Peart's drums. Even Geddy Lee's playful bass lines are carefully addressed, as showcased wonderfully in Closer To The Heart.

From start to finish the songs show a compelling sound-likeness to the original material, upon which the combination of delightful tweaked arrangements and Vessoni's vocals manage to ignite one's desire to just keep on listening. It equally makes a song like The Mission glide playfully along and, believe it or not, manages to mellow out the slight disappointment of Vapor Trails, by a bringing a splendid version of The Stars Look Down.

In comparison to Fleesh's own material, Vessoni's vocals here sound more powerful and less dreamy, which turns out to be a great fit in Here Again, from Rush's 1974 debut album. Here she leaves her usual way of singing and captures the blues elegantly, hitting some high notes as well, while the Hammond organ solo by Rodrigo Boechat is a great bonus.

Besides these fine moments there are three magnificent highlights that not only shows the timelessness of Rush's music, but also the quality of this tribute. First is the intricate version of Tears (from 2112) which is sumptuously enhanced through added symphonic elements and Vessoni's enchanting vocals that sound wondrously fragile. Secondly, the brilliant Losing It (from Signals) sees divine layering of keyboards, which together with the spine chilling violin solo coming from Corciolli's arsenal, is equally sublime. The majestic rendition of The Garden, from Rush's last album Clockwork Angels, tops this by painting moving pictures of my last ever visit to see Rush during their concert at Ziggodome, Amsterdam. An epic track, testifying Rush's ability to write great compositions throughout their career and a great way to end this fully engaging tribute album.

Each of these 14 tracks fully pay their respect to Rush and their brilliance. When Fleesh turn their hands to some of the more laid back tracks, they start to fit like a glove, and with the three standout treats it sees me lingering to meet up with the original music all over again. Exactly what a good tribute should accomplish, so definitely worth checking out.

Fleesh — Script For A New Season (A Marillion Tribute)

Fleesh - Script For A New Season (A Marillion Tribute)
Afraid Of Sunlight (6:52), Dry Land (4:37), Sugar Mice (5:48), Thank You Whoever You Are (4:46), The Great Escape (6:14), Lavender (2:41), Blind Curve (9:53), The New Kings (IV) Why Is Nothing Ever True? (3:08), Woke Up (3:28), Jigsaw (6:40), Waiting To Happen (4:53), Easter (6:00), Fantastic Place (6:12), Going Under (2:41), Seasons End (7:56), Script For A Jester's Tear (8:28)
Jan Buddenberg

Script For A New Season was the second tribute album to emerge in 2018 by Fleesh and gives a relatively easy example of the fact that Marillion are one of their main inspirations. The combination of oozing melancholy, delicate arrangements and guitars resembling those of Steve Rothery, always seep through in their music that is focusing on the Steve Hogarth years.

Therefore it should be no wonder that the Hogarth-era renditions range among the best of the tributes found on this album. Similar to their previous effort (The Next Hemisphere), Celo Oliviera has managed to stay close to the sound of the originals, which works perfectly for the post-Fish era. Tracks like Afraid Of Sunlight, Thank You Whoever You Are, The New Kings (IV) Why Is Nothing Ever True? and Woke Up sound comfortingly familiar, although the drum parts are somewhat dutiful. The keys give great atmosphere, while Vessoni's vocals playfully make the tracks glide-by engagingly.

Tracks like Dry Land and Waiting to Happen are a perfect way to demonstrate Fleesh's pop sense, where the slightly higher-pitched vocals are adorable. In The Great Escape, wonderfully executed yet musically lacking the emotional load of the original, sees her stretch her vocal chords with convincing ease, although leaving the impression that she sometimes holds back in her abilities. Rest-assured the passion makes up for it big-time.

The detailed structure of the emotional Fantastic Place is equally appealing, which goes for Easter as well. With the original containing one of the most cherished guitar solos for Marillion fans, this memorable song is done absolute justice by Oliviera matching Rothery. Some of Easter's transitions slightly miss the depth, and like Season's End show differences in keyboard play and arrangements, but it's all tastefully done with the songs proudly filling Marillion's shoes.

The songs from the Fish era are a somewhat different affair. Touching upon tracks like Sugar Mice, Going Under and Lavender, Fleesh's pop sense prevails smoothly, yielding solid renditions throughout. The Clutching At Straws tracks (Sugar Mice and Going Under) feel just as comfortable as any Hogarth cover, with Vessoni staying true to her own voice. A minor downside is the familiar musical changes and delicate transitions sound less punchy and powerful than on the originals.

This effect can be found in Lavender and Blind Curve as well, both executed sublimely but missing expressiveness in comparison to the versions found on Misplaced Childhood. The rousing guitar solo of Blind Curve and its deep, layered structure is superb, yet the vicious charisma and panache of Fish, makes it hard to compare, as Vessoni's voices misses these elements. The same goes for Jigsaw, thereby losing some of its original impact despite the finger-licking solo by Oliviera. In all fairness, comparing any female voice to Fish's early 80s approach is probably doomed to fail.

Finally we hear Script For A Jester's Tear, one of the tributes done by Fleesh that confidently contradict these findings. With the darker, raw atmosphere and Fish's cohesive personality to this iconic track extremely hard to match, the difference in Fleesh's performance is still very fulfilling. The colourful vocals show emotional versatility which becomes the song, something that is compensated further by Oliviera excelling on guitars, giving the first few solos a proud and favourably-fierce metal blow.

Doing these kind of tributes will always split the crowd, with each having their own opinion upon certain aspects, but these are remarkably solid renditions. Translated to my own "old fashioned" taste, I prefer the pre-Hogarth era, so I'd rather listen to these tracks in their original state. However the covers on this album of songs released by Marillion after Season's End, makes no difference to me. Either way, the best way is to simply enjoy the music and find out your own preference.

Fleesh — Across The Sea

Fleesh - Across The Sea
The Beginning (4:28), Black Hole (5:29), My Only Hope (5:50), Echo (5:50), Heading For A Fall (5:32), Across The Sea (5:52), Rescue Me (5:32), Weight Of The World (6:10), Whispers (5:11), Letter To Nobody (6:52)
Jan Buddenberg

For their third album of original music Across The Sea, Fleesh took a slightly different approach, incorporating a conceptual theme that addresses the different stages of the dreary mental mind. With lyrics covering aspects such as mental illness, depression, confusion and the restlessness of the inner soul, their compositions have gained a deeper meaning. This is beautifully translated through the darker, moodily-atmospheric songs that are now filled with gloomy sounds of sorrow and touching melancholy.

Still incorporating their Marillion and Pink Floyd influences, the overall feel to the album sees an increase in ominous atmospheres, alternating with psychedelic movements and delicate, self-reflecting ambient parts. A symbioses of styles that fits them very well. The growing deepness of the compositions makes it a captivating journey throughout, where the layered structures of What I Found have now carefully been re-shaped, and fitted with smoothly-flowing, emotive melodies, in a less-complex embodiment.

The slow opening of The Beginning, encased in a dark atmosphere reminiscent to Pink Floyd's The Wall, features Celo Oliviera's usual strong guitars followed by subdued drums. Here Gabby Vessoni's vocals superbly extend the melancholic feel, with her intonation adding further drama and mystique to the song. This works equally well in the quiet, restrained Black Hole, breathing a luscious Marillion feel, whilst showcasing delicate symphonic elements.

My Only Hope, a solidly-constructed song mindful to Barclay James Harvest, gently follows suit. Surrounded by echoes of Pink Floyd, Vessoni captivates through her touching vocals, yet the song for me lacks an undefined amount of punch. It is closely followed by Echo which is one of the most successful tracks here. The slight incorporation of bombast, closely followed by dynamic rhythmic changes alternating in tempo, is great and sees some lovely jazzy guitar play and a delicious early Porcupine Tree vibrancy in the middle of the track. The constant mood shifts are just as tasty, which in the slowly-evolving Heading For A Fall sees further refined psychedelic accents through a spooky keyboard solo.

The title track is a slight resting point in between the surrounding melancholy of the attention-seeking compositions. The intricate instrumentation, featuring a mild folky feel in its acoustic opening, sees a surprise violin treat and is buoyantly carried by a tapestry of whistling keyboards and divine waves of Mellotron. A dreamy and well executed track, graciously washing over into another highlight Rescue Me.

Here the orchestral accents and playful piano parts, resembling Renaissance, are superb, especially in light of Vessoni's exquisite vocal chords, while the early seventies Barclay James Harvest warmth is soothing.

Applying more basic pop structures in Weight Of The World this wonderful BJH atmosphere is convincingly maintained, while Oliviera impresses with a wonderful tidal wave on guitar, emitting gracious flows of Steve Rothery and David Gilmour in a Wish You Were Here-inspired solo.

Surrounded by added voices and scary sounds, Whispers speaks volumes in terms of psychedelics through its mild aggressiveness in vocals and brooding musical intensity, whereupon the concept sees a smooth closure, in the thrilling Letter To Nobody. Here the mild Porcupine Tree textures of riffs and melodies are slowly caressed by precious organ, gliding smoothly into melancholic gushes of inspiring Pink Floyd melodies. The suffocating beauty of Vessoni's enchanting vocals overwhelms, especially in combination with the divine solo of Oliviera.

The perfect ending through Letter To Nobody, on the one hand magnificently shows the ever-growing confidence and songwriting skills of Fleesh, yet on the other it also casts as shimmering shadow towards the other tracks of the album. The execution of these songs is faultless and every transition is ironed out to perfection, yet in comparison to What I Found the overall impression I found is one of being less adventurous. The delicate caressing towards these individual tracks and their intricate character is sufficiently done, though sometimes the feeling arises that the songs could also do with a bit more power and dynamics. Still it is a comforting, recommendable effort, which in Live at CaRIOca Progfestival would see an exciting full band revisit.

Fleesh — Live At CaRIOca ProgFestival

Fleesh - Live At CaRIOca ProgFestival
The Beginning (4:39), My Only Hope (5:56), Black Hole (5:33), Frankenstein (5:51), Echoes (5:53), Heading For A Fall (5:41), What I Found (5:10), Time Lapse (6:03), Rescue Me (5:41), Weight Of The World (6:26), Whispers (4:58), Letter To Nobody (7:22)
Jan Buddenberg

Drifting on the success of Across The Sea, this album sees Fleesh take to the stage for the first time, with a debut performance to a live audience. They recruited Rodrigo Zacconi (bass) and Leo Peccatu on drums to perform in a full band formation at the CaRIOca Progfestival on the 22nd of October in 2019. With many progressive acts attending over the course of different days, including illustrious names like Tempus Fugit, Kaizen, and Bacamarte, Live At CaRIOca Progfestival is the captivating record of this performance, focusing on material from Across The Sea, with three tracks from What I Found.

The transition of a studio project that pursues perfection into an exciting, near-flawless live band is remarkable and sees many highlights, as shown from the beginning with the appropriately titled The Beginning. Setting the melancholic frame-of-mind, the dynamic energy now surrounding the song not only elevates it, but gives it substantial depth. A most comforting effect, that's sometimes sorely missed on their studio recordings, but now very apparent throughout this album.

The incredibly tight rhythm section, playing alongside a sequencer that provides the atmospheric keyboard parts, delivers a standout performance, giving Cero Oliviera ample of opportunities to shine with his guitars soaring through meticulous play, and divine solos. Gracefully Gabby Vessoni tops this by performing her wonderfully expressive vocals in an exact replica to the studio recordings. Finally the warm, powerful production enhances all this by adding a delicate boost to the compositions.

The dark and mysterious mood-changing atmospheres of My Only Hope and Black Hole are captured beautifully, leading up to one of the highlights of the evening in the form of the exquisite Frankenstein. Thriving on Vessoni's endearing vocals, it flows naturally through all its phases, touching Marillion and Pink Floyd, turning into a delicious Rush-inspired bridge with an integrated, sequenced keyboard solo. Echoes and the bluesy Heading For A Fall similarly attract, paving the carpet for two tracks from What I Found in which the initially-intricate Time Lapse has gained a superb, lively and vibrant rockier middle section and finishes in an overwhelming solo by Oliviera.

Not letting go, Rescue Me is next with Vessoni soaring into immaculate Renaissance atmospheres as her enchanting voice caresses the immaculate melodies, while playful basslines give the track a delicate feel of sensitivity. The solid performance of Weight Of The World is a further testimony to the cohesiveness and interplay of the musicians, closely followed by Whispers, still harbouring the psychedelic mood, although slightly overshadowed by Fleesh's full-on inventive dedication.

The beautiful, enduring Letter From Nobody, a wonderful majestic track and perhaps one of their finest moments thus far, makes you wish you were there as a witness. The perfect finalé and a tantalising high note to a wholly-entertaining set. Thankfully the performance has been captured on video as well, so one can relive this fine moment at home, although today's virus-infected environment prohibits the distribution of the physical product and therefore is still only available on pre-order.

Fleesh — In The Mist Of Time (A Renaissance Tribute)

Fleesh - In The Mist Of Time (A Renaissance Tribute)
Day Of The Dreamer (9:42), Golden Key (5:15), The Vultures Fly High (3:00), Island (3:28), Bound For Infinity (4:19), The Sisters (6:36), Can You Understand? (9:47), Midas Man (5:40), Song Of Scheherazade - IV. Love Theme (2:46), Song Of Scheherazade - V. The Young Prince And The Young Princess (2:31), Black Flame (6:26), Spare Some Love (5:02), Ocean Gypsy (7:02), Let It Grow (4:10), Carpet Of The Sun (3:34), Forever Changing (4:46), Things I Don't Understand (9:13), Trip To The Fair (7:29); bonus tracks: Opening Out (4:36), Ashes Are Burning (11:13)
Jan Buddenberg

As much as I'd like to say I've listened to Fleesh's albums in chronological order, that would be somewhat besides the truth. The fact of the matter is that I started with Versions to get a glimpse of Fleesh's reputation as a cover band, as made aware by one of our readers (Thanks Bart!). I would then work my way up, starting with their first album. Along the way, my focus was however greatly affected by the spellbinding Ashes Are Burning cover of Renaissance (see editorial note attached to Versions).

This phenomenal cover version threw me off guard and is the sole reason why I rearranged my listening order instantly. For upon a first encounter, I could have sworn I wasn't listening to a cover, but to a newly discovered, unreleased Renaissance performance. A gem that immediately transported me back to the only album I know by heart (Live At The Carnegie Hall), which I consider to be the pinnacle in Renaissance's existence. Containing a sublime overview of songs ranging from Ashes Are Burning, Turn Of The Cards, and Scheherazade And Other Stories it is not only their most successful period but also their most creative one, followed closely by Novella and A Song For All Seasons.

And although I'm aware that Renaissance purists will always find miniscule detailed differences, the song Ashes Are Burning and this subsequent whole album by Fleesh, keeps you firmly in your theatrical seat during its two-hour tribute, visiting many albums along the way, which similar to their Rush tribute album sees some delicate surprises.

I could go into each and every track, but there's no point doing so, for this album is the epiphany in Fleesh's career of tributes, where everything rhymes, gels, moves and feels complete. Celo Oliviera transcends by upping his instrumental game, which sees him replicate Jon Camp's smooth bass lines (and solos) with seeming ease, while he also delivers perfect instrumentation surrounded by delicate arrangements. The symphonic layers, originally from Jon Tout, excite just as much, while the wonderful acoustics of Michael Dunford and subtlety of Terrence Sullivan on drums are all accounted for to great effect.

From a production and musical point of view this has the sound that one could wish for, ranging from touching to fragile, happily cheerful into emotional beauty, and melancholic bliss turning into symphonic ecstasy. On top of this, Gabby Vessoni's vocals come unbelievably close to Annie Haslam's, which is a pure delight and something not often encountered. In her heyday, Haslam managed to vibrate and outstretch her vocal chords even in stunningly-high regions, which proves to be an area just outside of reach for Verroni, as can be movingly heard on the exceptionally high note in Ashes Are Burning. She's only fractions away though, carrying the difficult vocal-parts perfectly.

If Fleesh have proven one thing with this album then it's the perfect marriage of their individual talents, resulting in excellent interpreted compositions, that gives a most superb and satisfying tribute to Renaissance. The album is full of highlights and one of the best tributes I've ever encountered. Frankly any artist with the illusion to try their hand at doing a Renaissance homage had better think twice now, for it will probably turn out pale in comparison.

A must-hear for those (mildly) acquainted with Renaissance and those who want to have a fair impression as to the quality of Fleesh's accomplishments. I wonder whether I'll listen to Live At The Carnegie Hall any time soon...

By releasing four albums of their own material and many tributes gathered on four other (extensive) albums in five years, one can surely state Fleesh have a high rate of productivity. This sure hasn't affected the quality, as each and every composition is treated with respect and devotion and is approached with a high standard. At this moment Fleesh are still proceeding with their tributes, which recently saw a memorable homage to Andre Matos (ex-Angra) in the form of Holyland (see the video here). Most likely several new versions will have appeared awaiting the publishing of these reviews, so be sure to check their YouTube channel.

Meanwhile, they are in the midst of recording their tribute to Genesis, which will no doubt gain them further coverage considering titles like Firth Of Fifth, Ripples and The Musical Box. It's probably best to become a member at their Patreon page, which ultimately is the best way to obtain and keep track of Fleesh's rapid flow of releases.

With Gabby Vessoni spreading her wings by guesting on Kaizen's cover of Dust In The Wind (Kansas) their popularity is increasing. A logical inference on the basis of their previous albums. Hopefully the physical DVD release of Live At CaRIOca Progfestival won't take too long.

Fleesh promo photo

Fleesh promo photos by Henrique Freire, used by kind permission.

Album Reviews