Album Reviews

Issue 2010-026

Reviews in this issue:

The Enid - Journey's End

The Enid - Journey's End (signed by Robert John Godfrey)
Country of Origin:UK
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:EWCD10
Year of Release:2010
Info:The Enid
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Terra Firma (7:17), Terra Nova (5:29), Space Surfing (6:16), Malacandra (12:38), Shiva (7:56), The Art of Melody – Journey’s End (5:20)

John O'Boyle's Review

Robert John Godfrey (keyboard), Max Read (vocals), Jason Ducker (guitar), Dave Storey (drums and percussions), Nick Willes (bass, timpani and percussions), and Elsa (growl).

The Enid are a band that have been around for many a year now in one form or another, some we love to remember and some we may like to forget. Wherever your stand on this is, there will be an era of The Enid that you will fondly remember and relate too.

Journey’s End is the first proper new Enid album in a few years, and it has been well worth the wait. There are six track on the album, five of them being new and Malacandra having been previously released on the Arise And Shine Volume 1 album which was reviewed previously and awarded 8 out of 10 and rightly so.

Journey’s End is a concept album, based on the relationship of the leaf and the tree and how they co exist as one and as individuals, a rite of passage from birth to death. This is a very deep stuff, but one would expect no less from such an intellectually minded person as Robert John Godfrey.

The Enid has released quite a few albums, each one really being a representation of the individuals involved in the recordings. Personal favourites of mine are Aerie Faerie Nonsense (7 out of 10), Touch Me, In The Region Of The Summer Stars (9 out of 10) and Six Pieces. Logically thinking this was probably their golden period, as no one was recording grandiose pieces like The Enid then and I honestly believe that even today there still isn’t. Some of the aforementioned albums have been reviewed here in the past, as well as Something Wicked This Way Comes (8 out of 10), The Seed And The Sower (7 out of 10), Tripping The Light Fantastic (8 out of 10) and White Goddess (9 out of 10). All receiving high accolades.

I have a bit of a confession to make, I got a chance to see this album being premiered, (except for The Art of Melody – Journey’s End as Robert John Godfrey deemed it nearly impossible to play live), in Birmingham, and wow! It worked on all levels.

Terra Firma which is Latin for solid earth opens with a rhythmic drum beat with the inimitable Enid phrased vocals obviously worked through a vocoder. Ducker’s guitar work although understated in places plays a very integral part in building the emotional feel of the piece. Robert John Godfrey’s keyboard work adds all the character giving it life and air to breathe. Storey and Willes work together and complement each other sounding like they have co-existed as a unit for many years.

Terra Nova which means new land starts with a spacey synth passage slowly drifting, being cleverly constructed as the track progresses with further keyboard work and beautiful and emotional guitar work. The inclusion of some small but effectual choral vocals giving the whole track an almost religious feel, stated and very profound, the starting of something new. This really is a powerful and emotional track. Again Robert John Godfrey’s keyboard work is second to none, subtle and effective. Ducker really is in his element here building guitar passages that just complement and heighten the sound of the keyboards. Every note is just crystal clear and perfectly placed.

Space Surfing is a bit of an unusual track for the Enid, as it starts off with a brief snippet from Star Trek, or it certainly sounds like that. The spacey approach with its rock tone opens with the line, “Welcome to my hide out, my safe and happy hole”, musically been driven along with the inclusion of some rather nice lead guitar work constructed over a strong drum and bass line. It has a Hawkwind approach in lyrical context but looses none of the magic that The Enid creates, segueing into Malacandra, and what a ride that is.

Malacandra is the longest and by far the strongest piece on the album and has classic Enid written all over it from beginning to the end and in all honesty it’s worth the admission price on its own. We are rewarded with a soundtrack of epic proportions with amazing interaction between keyboard and guitar undulating to and fro and some magnificent orchestration. When the track has to be emotional it’s emotional, when it has to be passionate it’s passionate, it’s layered and highly convoluted using every trick in the book to achieve this. This track moves in the same realms as The Fand, climactic, powerful and epic in approach. This is the soundtrack to the film that never was, that builds and builds to a very dramatic climax. Never truer words were written when Mark Hughes described Malacandra as being able to, “stimulate instant piloerection”. This is what The Enid does best and like I said there is no other band out there at this moment in time that comes close.

Shiva whether it’s a reference to a period of mourning or obscure lyrical reference to the Hindi destroyer god, (which to be honest thinking about it, it could and probably is a very clever reference to both) the work is another majestic passage. With slight eastern tones and more choral work, the metre and timbre speed up excitedly with some very exquisite percussion work, stunted sounding guitar work and complex orchestral interaction, climaxing in a crescendo of power.

The Art of Melody – Journey’s End is a slow moody piece with great effectual use of orchestration coming across as a closing movement, a musical eulogy, which is very apt really, culminating in some very powerful musical progressions. This is Robert John Godfrey building soundscapes like he does, well constructed, very emotional and grand in approach.

Make no mistake when you hear this album you will instantly recognise the tones and phrasings. As an album this is going to be in my opinion one of The Enid’s classics, a rebirth of all things old and new. It was recorded over a three year period, (2007 – 2010). It goes without saying that the album has been well engineered and produced as you would expect. This is certainly going to be one to add to your collection and for me, one to add to my golden era of Enid albums. I would highly recommend this album to others familiar with The Enid, and the uninitiated also. You will not be disappointed. This is a very powerful and emotional piece of work that does deserve to be huge. Behold the rebirth of The Enid.

Menno Von Brucken Fock's Review

Due to legal reasons (what's new?) the release of Journey's End, the first REAL new album by The Enid, had to be postponed, but finally there's just over 45 minutes of delightful Enid music to discover. The band consists of founder member Robert John Godfrey (keys), The Enid's original drummer Dave Storey and since the Nineties, Max Read (vocals, keys, guitar & bass). The youngest member is called Jason Ducker, a talented guitar player. A member to be (perhaps), is Nick Willes (bass & percussion).

Opening with a march rhythm is Terra Firma and soon we hear Max Read's vocals enhanced through the vocoder technology, so his vocals sound like a small choir or at least triple harmonies. The march tempo continues and can still be recognized, becoming less obvious because of the addition of 'tribal' drums and percussion. The music is rounded off by some touches of guitar and some subtle orchestrations. In Terra Nova a completely different, almost ambient atmosphere, id adopted. After the intro of spacey effects we hear classical music played by "horns" and evidently by the keyboards but the music remains smooth and subtle. At the end of the piece the grand piano takes over and plays the melodies in an exquisite way.

Space Surfing is of a whole different category, at first some background noises and Read singing with an accent probably from where he grew up, then some bombastic orchestrations and a piece of catchy pop-rock music with the full band. The chorus, with a peculiar modulation, is sung in close harmony. The twin guitars in the instrumental interlude is so very characteristic for The Enid. The track Malacandra has been released earlier on the Arise & Shine album and builds the bridges between the old and the contemporary Enid: orchestral, bombastic passages remind of the finest of Enid music from the Seventies while the very modern symphonic pop pieces invite the listener to sing along. The last part would be the ultimate piece for group and orchestra, but in this case the orchestra is only one man: Robert John Godfrey.

Next song in a musical style I couldn't define properly, is Shiva. Here we hear a sort of game of questions (vocals) and answers (guitar) and the theme keeps returning in different forms and with different arrangements. Of course there are lush orchestrations again. The grand finale, The Art of Melody – Journey’s End, is for Robert John Godfrey: magnificent contemporary classical music that might well have been performed by a full symphony orchestra. Godfrey hasn't lost his touch and according to man himself "the best is yet to come".

Yes, the somewhat obscure and strange bunch known as The Enid are back and my guess is, we will be hearing a lot more from them. The band is currently touring in the UK and Europe and will be one of the headlining acts on the Night Of The Prog festival in the Loreley (Germany) in September this year.


JOHN O'BOYLE : 9 out of 10
MENNO VON BRUCKEN FOCK : 8.5 out of 10

Lost World Band – Sound Source

Lost World Band – Sound Source
Country of Origin:UK
Record Label: Musea Records
Catalogue #:FGBG 4840
Year of Release:2009
Info:Lost World Band
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Hymn – The Intro (1:04), Sound Source (3:58), Kaleidoscope (3:03), Waterworks (4:36), Hymn (6:17), The Feast (3:45), Colorless (4:33), The Engine That Wouldn’t Start (1:32), Heat Stroke (4:45), Naked Starlight (3:55), In The Wilderness (3:09), Divertissement (4:37), Trapped (3:25), The Shore And I (4:37), Blind Escape (4:23), Travelling Light (7:15)

Sound Source is the third album for Lost World Band. Their previous two, Trajectories (2003) and Awakening Of The Elements (2006) are unknown to me, but Geoff Feakes awarded Awakening… a healthy seven out of ten. You can read his review here. The core personnel committing Sound Source to disk are the same as their previous releases: Andrii Didorenko would seem to be the Captain of this pioneering crew that man the good ship Lost World Band. He is responsible for the majority of the songwriting as well as handling guitar, bass and violin duties, so you might consider him as Navigator and Helmsman, too. Chief Petty Officer and First Mate is Vassili Soloviev who plays flutes and co-wrote one of the tracks. Manning the rigging and furling the sheets is new boy, Veniamin Rozov – he’s the drummer. Whilst he has worked in a live setting for the band since 2005, their previous recordings to do not credit a drummer, rather, band members play percussion and ‘programming’ so the inclusion of a live drummer may be something of a departure for their overall sound and feel. The last element of the band’s instrumentation is keyboards. This would seem to be something of a fluid role in the group. Previously, Alexander Akimov has handled the keys but now he has graduated to the recording desk to mix and master the album, so Master Carpenter and Chief Draftsman for him. Adopting the mantle in his stead is the wonderfully named Yuliya Basis whom we must consider as Lieutenant in order to round out my ever-thinning nautical metaphor.

These are all classical, conservatoire-trained musicians and it’s apparent. The technical craft on show in Sound Source is stunning and the interpretive, creative alchemy of the players verges on genius at times. The liner notes stress the fact that all instruments are live and the whole album does indeed have a very strong live presence; it broadly sounds like four musicians in a room together having their performances captured in real-time. Fascinating then, that Sound Source was recorded over 18 months in New York and Moscow, separated by oceans, continents and seasons. What it implies, is that the multitude of intricacies to be heard throughout the album, are the consequence of meticulous and painstaking repetition, rather than spontaneous musical flight. Yet that is how the music nevertheless sounds: spontaneous, improvised in places and live.

However, even the most cursory examination would reveal is as a studio recording; by way of example, such is the multi-tracking of Didorenko’s violin parts that at times he sounds like a quintet, evidently a feat beyond the capacities of a solo player in a live setting. I must say at this point how endlessly amazing the string arrangements are. Shifting from what you might term conventional, legato string quartet sensibilities, beautifully exemplified in Hymn, to wild, electrified and treated jiggery-fiddle such as in the title track, or in Diverstissement or in the excellent ‘Flight Of The Bumble Bee’-like drama of Trapped where the solo violin conveys a panicky desperation fit to accompany the most fraught of anxiety dreams.

It’s an unusual set-up that naturally creates an unusual sound which I will loosely describe as modern, progressive, electric chamber music. Over the course of these 16 instrumental tracks, each can be very broadly grouped into one of two categories: the jagged, staccato, polyrhtymic, slightly avant-garde category or the melodic, sweetly harmonious, soothing category. This goes no way at all though to describe the elaborate, Byzantine chambers that Sound Source occupies; the musical landscapes that Lost World Band traverse are constantly shifting. By track four we have already been treated to four completely different moods and styles and so it continues to the album’s conclusion. On occasions these styles sit comfortably within a ‘70s Italian prog framework: skilful, delicate arrangements like Kaleidoscope, with its lullaby flutes or the pastoral harmonics of Colorless recall Jet Lag era PFM. The melodious and naïve innocence of The Shore And I evoke comparison with Greenslade whilst the fabulously bombastic The Feast has more than a shade of Gentle Giant trading blows with Jethro Tull about it; drunken and slashing guitar clatters around in jovial, shouty unison with the flute before engaging in one of those intoxicated conversations with each other that require concentration from both parties but make little or no sense to either, so it’s back to rowdy, inebriated jamboree territory and then another grave dialogue where both parties earnestly compete over how much they love each other the most before collapsing together in an exhausted heap. I do like this one. This bombast is echoed and developed in Heat Stroke with harshly distorted guitars and growling bass fronting a clamorous and urgent piece supported by intensely neurotic, squawking bursts of synth. It’s like the musical equivalent of a cat in a canary cage as the arrangement jags and glides in contrasting measures recalling Red-era King Crimson.

The segue from here into Naked Starlight is delightful. It’s such a contrasting piece with its shimmering, Robert Fripp-esque guitars and romantic, cinematic string development leading us into the brief quiescence and serenity of In The Wilderness which is simply a strummed and picked refrain on 12-string acoustic bracketed by field recordings of birdsong and babbling brooks. The King Crimson comparisons continue in the penultimate Blind Escape which sounds simultaneously like something from Sleepless era KC and the theme tune from a ‘70s cop show (I believe there was a similar thing on their previous album, too). Not everything works. The album closer and longest piece is something of a letdown as it shambles around muttering to itself, going nowhere in particular for four minutes until tabla and string melodies add a spicy eastern flavour, making the song decide that it’s settled into something that perhaps George Harrison may have dreamed up. It’s not unpleasant, just overlong given the concise, punchy character of everything else.

When I consider the experience of the album as a whole, the variety on display is a strength that I applaud, but it can also be a fault. The desire for change cannot be reason enough to implement change if it is not motivated with intention and I think this is Sound Source’s prevailing weakness. It lacks coherence and internal, organic unity; as Frank Zappa was wont to mockingly say, “What is your conceptual continuity?” I guess he would hate me for this criticism but, it doesn’t ‘transport’ me and as a consequence, its entertainment value is diminished by acting on a largely cerebral level. This is an album for the left brain. I can marvel at the technical complexity of its execution and the diversity of its forms but it doesn’t touch my heart at all and it doesn’t get under my skin enough to make me fall in love with it. As undeniably brilliant as it is, I’m not sure what the circumstances are that would compel me to play it with any regularity. Certainly, I will keep my review copy, but as an artefact rather than a musical treasure; a log entry in the journal of prog. By the same token, from a scholarly, purist point of view, I think it’s one of the most progressive albums I’ve heard in the last decade: it’s tectonic, those shifting regions of the Earth where new land is formed; it’s boundary-melting, and as such, is essential listening for anyone who takes their prog seriously and enjoys some heavy beard-stroking with their music. If however your palate craves more easily digested fare, then Sound Source may well induce projectile vomiting.

I have really agonised and vacillated about the score to give this album. Is it worthy of a coveted DPRP recommendation? Will it fall into that ‘good-but-not-quite-good-enough’, 7 out of 10 category again? Will I be chased to a derelict windmill by an angry mob bearing pitchforks and torches if I get it wrong either way? The voices of my inner Prognoscenti have spoken. On the strength of this album, Lost World Band deserve the greater exposure that a DPRP recommendation may elicit. And so it is granted. Many of you will love it. To those of you who may curl your toes, sorry, but I did say it might, please don’t chase me to a windmill.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10


Lisa LaRue Project 2K9 – World Class

Lisa LaRue Project 2K9 – World Class
Country of Origin:USA
Record Label:MALS
Catalogue #:MALS 344
Year of Release:2009
Info:Lisa LaRue
Project 2K9
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: In Camera (3:30), Copper Edge (6:10), Tell Me Why (6:28), Kituwa (4:14), Deluge (3:46), There Are No Words (4:09), For Eternity (4:28), Beautiful Illusion (4:33), For Our Love (3:48), Two A.M. (2:00), Save Me (2K9 Remix) (4:22)

Native American composer and keyboardist Lisa LaRue hails from Kansas USA and her latest album and first under the Project 2K9 banner is her sixth in total. Even before the CD launch last November it’s been available as downloadable ‘singles’ from Lisa’s website throughout most of 2009. The album title is a tribute to the international prog collective that add their weight to this project which mixes AOR flavoured songs with melodic instrumentals. No prizes for guessing that the latter format proved to be the most rewarding for me. That being said it’s a very accomplished work throughout with excellent contributions from all concerned. They each bring something different to the table and although it gels convincingly as a whole there are certain tracks that standout above the rest.

Track one In Camera has a Rick Wakeman air about it but it isn’t the strongest album opener I’ve ever encountered, sounding just a little too lightweight to my ears. Sweden’s Svetlan Raket (The Par Lindh Project) is on hand to supply the energetic drumming but it’s the absence of bass and bottom end that lets it down I feel. No such problems with the upbeat Copper Edge where the upfront bass work of Chris Brown (Ghost Circus, Roswell Six) compliments the explosive drumming of Merrill Hale (ARZ). Hale had a hand in writing this one which comes as no surprise as his busy playing seems to dominate whilst ARZ partner Steve Adams provides sitar like guitar embellishments and a lively Trevor Rabin flavoured solo.

Following the two opening instrumentals, Tell Me Why written by guitarist David Mark Pearce (The Oliver Wakeman Band) takes a diversion into AOR song territory with ex. Asia singer John Payne providing his customary strident vocals. In fact the repetitive chorus, gusty guitar work and lush keys would make this an ideal candidate for any album by the aforementioned Asia. A tad too formulaic for my tastes but for those that have a hankering for catchy tunes it’s available as a CD single from Pearce’s own website. Kituwa on the other hand proves to be one of my favourite tracks here thanks to Steve Adams’ versatile guitar work which ranges from the jazzy to the sublime. The strongest moment is a compelling guitar hook around the midway point and on this occasion Payne trades his vocal chords for bass. He’s back in familiar territory however with Deluge where his overpowering delivery is tempered by acoustic guitar, mandolin and keys adding a lyrical tone to the proceedings.

The appropriately titled There Are No Words is for me easily the albums best offering. It’s a tender instrumental duet with Lisa’s digital strings and piano perfectly underscoring David Mark Pearce’s beautiful classical guitar picking. It put me firmly in mind of the kind of thing that Mark Knopfler writes and performs when he’s in film music mode (ala Local Hero). Next up is For Eternity co-written by keyboardist Geert Fieuw and vocalist Jo De Boeck (both from Belgium band Beyond The Labyrinth) and a song that originally featured on their 2008 Castles In The Sand album. It’s a melodic affair and one of the strongest songs here (albeit in an American radio friendly vein) with Boeck sharing vocal duties with Payne.

Beautiful Illusion features more of Adams’ masterly guitar playing which includes some glorious Steve Howe style slide effects whilst For Our Love sees him joining forces with Pearce. Even their combined might however can’t lift this lacklustre ballad above the ordinary with Payne and Canadian Claire Vezina’s vocal duet lacking conviction. The symphonic guitar and keys fanfare at the beginning and the short synth break at the end are easily the best parts. The penultimate Two A.M. is a short but engaging tune with Adams’ Andy Latimer tinged sustained guitar underpinned by Lisa’s atmospheric keys with equally atmospheric wordless chants from Payne. The bonus track Save Me is a remixed version of an older song, providing a memorable note on which to end the album. It’s highlighted by a refreshingly restrained performance from Payne, a sublime synth break from Lisa and the obligatory soaring guitar coda courtesy of Pearce.

Although Lisa is a very talented keyboardist it’s the collective contributions from all those involved that’s the key to the success of World Class I feel. The usual suspects including ELP, Yes, Genesis and Kansas are cited as influences but for me Lisa’s keyboard technique and overall sound is more understated than those names would suggest. Whilst taking nothing away from the other contributors I would single out the guitar talents of Steve Adams and David Mark Pearce for special mention and I was particularly impressed by Merrill Hale’s muscular drumming. Also praiseworthy is the sharp production by Lisa and Pearce which easily passed the car stereo acid test during There Are No Words where classical guitar rang out loud and clear above the traffic noise even at low volume.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10


Mother Black Cap - The English Way

Mother Black Cap - The English Way
Country of Origin:UK
Record Label:Cyclops Records
Catalogue #:CYCL172
Year of Release:2009
Info:Mother Black Cap
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Breydon Sunrise (9:16), Child Of Our Time (7:03), Home (3:07), In Vino Veritas (6:35), Don’t Change Me (4:16), Flying Kites (0:53), The English Way (17:58)

Mother Black Cap are based in the Yarmouth/Norwich area of the Eastern UK and have been a gigging band since early 2005. They released their first album In The Comfort Of Their Own Home in 2006 and now have released their second album The English Way. Mother Black Cap on this album includes Martin Nico (guitars), Bob Connell (keyboards) David Nelson (bass) John Hughes (drums) Iain Jackson (vocals).

The album comprises seven tracks ranging in length from 53 seconds to the epic 18-minute title track. This is an album of quintessentially English progressive rock with thoughtful lyrics and stunning instrumental passages, whose roots are firmly entrenched in the 70’s.

Breydon Sunrise: The opening track with lyrics based on the poem by Tony Amis. This is a melodic and mellow track with strong references to mid-period Pink Floyd, containing lots of Hammond organ, fluid, powerful guitar and harmonic backing vocals. Its core melody is one of those that you find yourself humming for days after.

Child Of Our Time: Is a sad and thoughtful song about the loss of a child. It opens with a Wakemen style keyboard segment before progressing into a classic Camel style passage with some superb Richard Wright style keys added to the mix. This then “morphs” into psychedelic rock workout ending with some on the run style synths.

Home: An up-beat and catchy number featuring strong vocals harmonies and a strong melody.

In Vino Veritas: This is an instrumental track that takes a little time to warm up. Reminding me of classic early Genesis at the beginning, with a quite piano section leading into a more rigorous and complicated instrumental passage before entering the last 3 or 4 minutes, which are truly excellent; featuring Hammond organ to the front and centre, with powerful rhythm guitars in support, all very reminiscent of ELP.

Don’t Change Me: To my mind one of the best tracks on the album. Possessing another great melody that you hum for days. Reminding me of early Pallas, it has haunting vocals and thoughtful lyrics and an absolutely great guitar solo.

Flying Kites: A short piano instrumental.

The English Way: The epic of the album, an 18 minute rip-roaring piece of prog’ that just puts a smile on your face. Opening with a Jan Akkerman style guitar solo we then move into the song proper with evocative lyrics, which philosophise about the “English Way”. With lyrics such as “Put on the kettle to solve a crisis, pint of beer to forget the troubles of the day” they really do capture England and our culture. On the negative side there is a section of the song with spoken/chanted lyrics, which I find grates a bit on the ear, being to my mind a bit cheesy! However this is more then made up for by the superb and rollicking last 8 minutes with iconic English sound bites and superb instrumentation reminding me of Atlantis by Pallas.

This is a great album that grows on you with each play. With fantastic musicianship and great writing it is well put together and neatly packaged. On the negative side, the production is a little cloudy in places and the lead vocals could do with being further forward in the mix.

Progressive rock in the English fashion! This is an album that will appeal to those who like both vintage and modern progressive rock in the style of Genesis, Pallas, Pendragon and Focus.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10


Perspective X IV - Shadow Of Doubt

Perspective X IV - Shadow Of Doubt
Country of Origin:USA
Record Label:Nightmare
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2009
Info:Perspective X IV
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Disconnected (5:13), Carry On [Part III Of Acceptable Risk] (6:09), Grey Matter (7:58), The Calm (5:58), Shadow Of Doubt (5:15), The Smell Of Rain (5:10), Colossal (8:27), On The Horizon (5:50), Shine (8:17)

The three founding members of Perspective X IV all attended the same high school but it was ten years later that they started the band. In those ten years all members were busy trying to find their way in the music scene. Guitar player Rod Middleton played in two rock cover bands and was concentrating on industrial metal music. Drummer Ben Burton and bass/keyboard player Chris Matthews were together in progressive rock projects like Broken Silence and The Neapolitan Orchestra.

In 2000 the first Perspective album Coming Into Focus was released with Rod Middleton and Ben Burton providing some vocals, but the album was mainly instrumental. In 2001 vocalist Johnny Ledford joined the band but left in 2004 just before the recording of their second album Progressions. That album is a strange bridge because it contains four track from the debut album and three new songs with Ledford on vocals. To make it more complex two of those songs are remixed and now released on Shadow Of Doubt. Rod Middleton and Ben Burton now each take on the vocal duties - respectively three and two songs and to complete the nine tracks there are two instrumental tracks present.

The music of Perspective X IV is progressive metal, Dream Theater, Fates Warning and Vanden Plas all come to mind when listening to Shadow Of Doubt. Disconnected is a very accessible song with still enough technical stuff to keep it interesting. The band never misses a turn but also never really dares to look for the edge. Apart from Carry On, which is sung by Ben Burton, the first half of the album is dominated by the vocals of Rod Middleton, my personal favourite when it comes to the singing parts. Wherein the first song the technical tricks are scattered, a little bit here and little bit there, on Carry On it is concentrated in the instrumental solo part. The rest is pretty much straight forward rock/metal.

Grey Matter is an instrumental track that will satisfy many progressive metal fan. It has many changes and beautiful melodic solos, never really over the top but for the full eight minutes this song grabs my interest. Whereas the title track Shadow Of Doubt reminds me of Jadis, a lot. A very long intro and then some acoustic guitar mixed with some decorative keyboard sounds. The chorus is a bit heavier with a nice sing-a-long chorus. The Calm is the last song which is sung by Rod Middleton. And for the first time not so accessible, the rhythm changes constantly, not a song to which you can gently nod your head.

The Smell Of Rain and On The Horizon are the two remixed songs of former vocalist Johnny Ledford. You can clearly hear the guys have progressed in their song writing over the years which results in the fact that these two songs sound a little out of place. The voices of the three vocalists do not differ a lot but it is noticeable that multiple vocalists were used.

Inbetween those two songs is the instrumental Colossal. Just like the instrumental, Grey Matter, earlier on the album, this song is very interesting with many changes and many melodic and technical solos. However the two instrumental tracks are good but without a part that really stands out, not a point in the song that you immediately fast forward two, and after hearing it rewinding again - they lack this. Shine is a power ballad which at the end is stretched to a larger length by some great solos. Like on Carry On, Ben Burton provides lyrics and vocals, must say he does a better job on this last song.

I started with mixed feelings about this album, the fact that three different vocalists are present could lead to incoherency, especially when one of them left many years ago and these two remixed songs are not the best on this album. It would have been better if they used one vocalist, preferably Rod Middleton, and re-record the old songs. What Perspective X IV does succeed in is creating a pretty good album. If you put above mentioned fact aside Shadow Of Doubt is a very good album. The production is superb and if you like accessible progressive metal then this album is a very good choice.

Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10


Jaw Wad – La Spaccadula

Jaw Wad – La Spaccadula
Country of Origin:France
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2008
Info:Jaw Wad
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: La Mixture Du Monde (7:16), Desséché [Partie 1] (3:14), Summum Jus Summa Injuria (5:28), I Am A Tramp (4:15), Solitaire (6:54), Desséché [Partie 2] (6:20), Need To Gridare (6:06), Non So Più Amare (9:51), La Ravanche Des Animistes (5:22), I Am Seer (8:41)

There is an unusual band in France that goes by the name Jaw Wad. They have an avant-garde feel about them in a performing arts sort of way, not as the term has come to mean in the metal genre lately. This album is titled La Spaccadula, and is the latest of their five-album catalogue.

It has taken me a few listens to try to get this stuff to sink in enough to give it a fair description and I’m still not sure if I can aptly portray what Jaw Wad has put together here. I hear influences from 70’s progressive rock and 80’s underground. More specifically there are parts that remind me of early experimental Pink Floyd from the Atom Heart Mother/Ummagumma era. I also hear strong influences of Bauhaus and not simply because the vocals tend to resemble Peter Murphy when he sings near the midrange for the darker songs. That similarity ends abruptly as soon as the music changes pace though even though the voice tends to be largely one-dimensional.

Speaking of vocals: the immediate impact of this vocalist demands you to make a judgment. The extreme nasal tone quality and subdued mix in sound production will put most people off right away. I don’t want this criticism to come off too harshly because it isn’t entirely out of place for this esoteric music style. If the sound of the vocals is a deal breaker, you probably aren’t in the market for this kind of band in the first place.

The album opens sounding a bit like a Mexican folk song until it develops into distorted guitars and solo work. As you can imagine, it doesn’t take long to realize this is something unusual.

I hear many interesting sounds when Jaw Wad builds their atmospheric sounds and moods. They report using the Theremin and Ebow, both are utilized without the overindulgence that might be expected with experimental bands that are inclined to test the taste limits of their audience.

The other more traditional instruments are played well but not necessarily recorded well. The quieter parts of the album were not given the attention to detail that it probably deserves and there is no “snap” in the drums. They sound tired, as if there isn’t sufficient transience in the original recording. I can’t really say but there is something lacking there. I tend to favour active drumming in most music and this falls short in that respect as well. The bass comes through nicely, however, and the guitars carry well.

The songs all seem to be the product of a lot of work and thought. While I listened to this music for review I tried to be as open minded as possible. My personal taste must play a role in the final judgment, and my taste has a hard enough time with the vocals and drums to pull the score down. I really like the open format song structure, the lyrics, and images on, as well as inside, the cover.

The lyrics are artistic and poetic, thought provoking and intellectual – and those are just the ones I can read since much of the album is French. A creative video for the song Summum Jus Summa Injuria can be found here. The imagery inside the sleeve carries in a Floydian vein – I can’t think of anyone that would find anything wrong with that.

Overall a very interesting album but it’s not polished enough for me.

Conclusion: 5 out of 10


Album Reviews