Literally 4 years ago (seriously) the leader of this group sent me a message and asked if I would review this album based on a partial release. I suck and so it’s taken me 4 years to get to it. (In my limited defense, my podcast was still running so I basically listened to nothing else.) So anyway, here goes:
This is some elaborate symphonic prog, featuring numerous instruments playing these elaborate suites. Only one song is shorter than 6 minutes and only two are shorter than 8, as you would expect from this music.
It is extremely well-played and there is a flurry of different instrumental voices, from the various guitars, keyboards and percussion to the various supporting horns and wind instruments (or keyboards doing an excellent job of sounding like horns and woodwinds). There is a lot of invention in the various passages and the whole thing is really well recorded – if I have complaints about the record, it has nothing to do with the production, which is pretty great.
My issue with this album is the same that I have with basically all neo prog and it’s two-fold: this music recalls the prog I absolutely used to love from the ’70s, often too much, and it is made in a world in which punk – and all the ensuing DIY genres – didn’t happen. I hear echoes of many different ’70s prog bands here, though the dominant vibe I get is that of a groovier Mike Oldfield who plays more guitar. Occasionally the music drifts into a world of progressive rock I never particularly liked – Colosseum, even Gryphon, bands like that – but it’s usually only momentarily.
I’d care less about the sonic echoes of ’70s prog if the music sounded more modern. But, to me, it sounds like much better produced ’70s prog rock, for the most part. There are moments here and there when they sound like they enjoy music that was made since 1975 but not very often. For me, for 21st century prog to work, it needs to acknowledge what’s happened in the music world since the genre’s heyday and I’m not sure I get that here.
But it’s extremely well-played and well-made. And if you like symphonic prog, you’ll like it.