Genre: PROGRESSIVE ROCK
Released by: White Star Records
Release date: 10th February 2017
James Durand – Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
Steve Hales – Drums, Piano
Richie Cahill – Guitars
2. Time and Tide
3. The Stone
5. The Shallows
6. In the Sere and Yellow
7. Red Skies Rise
Reviewing a debut album is always a lottery, you never quite know what you’re going to get. Reviewing a debut prog album even more so. I confess to living in the past in as far as this genre goes and have been impressed by only a handful of “new” prog artists post 80’s era so it was with a little trepidation that I prepared to listen to this one…but strangely I was not prepared. At a glance, the 7 song listing which may make you feel somewhat short changed in a standard rock album, it not surprising for progressive rock considering the length of some of the tracks and not a second of this release wastes the opportunity to impress upon the listener the ability of these musicians.
The opening track ‘Ultraviolet’ begins with an ethereal organ sound before the introduction of guitar morphs the song into something deeply atmospheric and in my opinion futuristic. Piano then kicks in followed by vocals, drums, and synthesizer. At this point, and with several changes of musical direction, the song is unrecognizable from what came before. Full of musical twists and turns and lyrically complex, it demonstrates the talents of the musicians to full capacity and features a lengthy introduction of instrumental experimentation before the vocals break in. In summation, it is just over 9 and a half minutes of musical genius.
In contrast, ‘Time and Tide’ affords no gentle intro and has a distinctly heavier vibe. It is fast paced, catchy and shorter in duration than most of the tracks making it the perfect choice for a single. Guitar and percussion on this track are amazing, vocals enchanting and just the essence of the influence of prog rock forefathers can be heard creeping in here and there. The video and single for this track were released in November 2016.
‘Swallowtail’ starts out as a melancholy acoustic interlude around the albums half way mark. Showcasing stunning lyrics and vocal harmonies, the drama builds towards the end, the style of the music constantly changing throughout.
The echo of a broadcast can faintly be heard amongst the instrumental opening of the concluding album track ‘Red Skies Rise’. An intense dramatic piece building in tension, at just over halfway through the track a voiceover pierces through the music. An amazing guitar solo follows, accompanied by repetitive percussion and gentle vocals which blend into the background of the music, speed and intensity increase as the song gallops towards its conclusion, a monumental musical extravaganza.
Just as prog fans could be described as complex deep thinkers, prog musicians could be described as complex pioneers, the category by nature giving them more scope for experimenting with a wide variety of instruments, techniques, and sounds that don’t essentially fit in the general rock category. I’m not sure what surprises me most – the quality and magnitude of this release or the fact that this creation is the product of only 3 musicians, 3 multi-talented musicians I may add.
Prepare to be blown away by this album, I certainly was.
Review: Karen Hetherington