The Progressive Aspect

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/02/20/moonparticle-hurricane-esmeralda/

Following in the footsteps of 2013’s instrumental solo-release Banshees and Harpsichord, Hurricane Esmeralda finds guitar virtuoso Niko Tsonev at his creative peak, assembling an all-star cast featuring the likes of keyboard wizard Adam Holzman (Steven Wilson, Miles Davis, etc.), and flautist Theo Travis (Steven Wilson, Robert Fripp, etc.) to ultimately form the progressive-rock venture that is Moonparticle. In addition to said sidemen, whom he’d already worked with in past endeavors on Steven Wilson’s 2012 Grace For Drowning tour – documented on recent re-realese Get All You Deserve – Moonparticle furthermore comprises Frost* Drummer Craig Blundell, violinist Samy Bishai and vocalist Grog Lisee – her raspy vocal-timbre adding an essential note to the general sound of the record.

The music presented over the 40-minute recording is colourfully diverse, ranging from classic rock tunes such as the bluesy The Strength Of A Thousand Year Rose over flute driven intermezzi to jazzy tinged fusion undertakings, as exemplified on the stellar Michelangelo Don’t Stop. Even hard-hitting metal-flavored riffs find their rightful place on this album, leading to a truly extravagant show of versatility and skill by all involved.

The catchy chorus of the opening title track doesn’t leave hold of the listener for the entire duration of the remaining journey, aptly demonstrating Niko’s gift for compact and hook-oriented songwriting. And still the nearly three and half minute rocker finds room for some swirling synthesizer and guitar leads.

Instrumentals Helium I and II contrast the speed racer of an opener by means of pace, instrumentation and structure – lending a folk-jazzy mood to the album. The former introduces a twangy electric guitar melody while the latter presents itself as more exotic – flute and acoustic guitar carrying the torch while dreamily accompanied by an intimate string arrangement.

The highly polyrhythmic Winter Mountain is a highlight of this particularly versatile album, mainly driven by constantly alternating 8/8 and 10/8 time signatures drenched in varying sound carpets. Grog Lisee’s already spooky vocals accompany the haunting atmosphere most effectively and are enhanced by multiple overdubs.

White Light’s where the metal is. Not unlike some of Steven Wilson’s endeavors, Tsonev candidly introduces a sudden burst of heavy distortion on a decisively thunderous riff, only to be relieved by a fine 8/4 jam based around a wet guitar-lick. Craig Blundell constantly shifts his rhythm patterns until Tsonev goes off on a captivatingly affectionate solo, accompanied by smooth yet divine organ voicings. Holzman then leads the way back into the deafening White Light.

On Michelangelo Don’t Stop Tsonev goes full-fusion on a bass-line anchored 6/8. While some of his guitar work here is reminiscent of many of Allan Holdsworth’s ventures, the general atmosphere doesn’t concur but moves into more easy going territories, driven by an unburdened melody played by the flute. Humming voices, arranged in intervals of thirds, guide the main harmonic progressions as well, furthermore adding to the lighthearted ambience.

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While the afore mentioned blues-rocker The Strength Of A Thousand Year Rose recalls late grunge acts of the early 2000s, the instrumental Reverend Mum once again disagrees completely in tone by introducing a sparse arrangement of a thoughtful guitar solo accompanied by programmed drums.

Hurricane Esmeralda closes on a definite high with Leon’s Experiment – the albums longest track. The first sequence of the composition is introduced by another fat layered guitar riff that subsequently recurs and guides the entire piece in periodic intervals. In-between, contrastingly quiet sections, led by atmospheric synthesizer spreads by Holzman, open up the soundscape for wistful contemplation. The final sequence slowly rocks the album to sleep – in an ambient way.

Hurricane Esmeralda is not far from being a perfect progressive rock album. The stunning musicianship paired with intriguing and versatile compositions profit from being presented in a bed of crisp sounds, which also has to be attributed to Tsonev, who not only composed and played “Guitars, Bass and everything else” (as mentioned in the booklet) but also produced and mixed the record. Due to these circumstances, slightly questionable choices concerning the mixing, such as exaggerated panning, can easily be excused and lead to the imperative conclusion: Hurricane Esmeralda is a great start to a progressive 2018 and Niko Tsonev is a voice to be reckoned with in the future.

TRACK LISTING
01. Hurricane Esmeralda (3:20)
02. Helium I (2:16)
03. Helium II (1:24)
04. Winter Mountain (5:20)
05. White Light (5:00)
06. Michelangelo Don’t Stop (6:51)
07. The Strength Of A Thousand Year Rose (4:23)
08. Reverend Mum (4:06)
09. Leon’s Experiment (7:16)

Total Time – 39:16

MUSICIANS
Adam Holzman – Keyboards
Craig Blundell – Drums & Additional Drum Programming
Theo Travis – Flutes, Saxophone & Flutescapes
Samy Bishai – Strings & String Arrangements (track 3)
Grog Lisee – Vocals & Additional Vocal Arrangements (tracks 1, 4 & 7)
Niko Tsonev – Guitars, Bass & everything else

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Independent
Catalogue#: n/a
Date of Release: 20th January 2018

LINKS
Moonparticle – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/02/19/agusa-agusa/

Swedish psychedelic band Agusa present their self-titled third album, their second release on the Lasers Edge label and a follow up to 2015’s Agusa 2 (‘Tva’), an album that consisted of just two tracks spanning some forty minutes. On this new release the tracks follow more traditional lengths, ranging between five and ten minutes.

I am a bit late to the party on this one, having been released in the latter part of 2017 it has sat amongst my to do pile and despite playing it several times I have only just got around to putting some thoughts down. The album, spanning some forty three minutes, was recorded and mixed by Viktor Rinneby and mastered by Grammy-winning engineer Bob Katz, the sleeve art is by Danilo Stankovic.

Jenny Puertas was added to the band line up in 2015 and her flute contributions are an important part of Agusa’s current sound. The flute leads the melodies and along with the use of the organ goes some way to creating their distinct feel. The music ebbs and flows with a great ability to draw you in to their musical world. Opener Landet Längesen starts with a gentle and almost delicate flute accompanied by the organ, the pace picking up half way through to create a pulsing vibes, reminiscent of early seventies Hawkwind, before things change again.

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Throughout the album all the players make excellent contributions to the music, which makes for a very interesting instrumental album, blending psychedelic sounds with Swedish folk, indeed on Den Förtrollade Skogen the guitar appears to have a reggae feel at times, while the organ dances around it. With the tracks mostly stretching to between eight and ten minutes it gives the band the chance to develop and stretch their musical ideas, perfectly pacing each song, the shortest song being the wonderful Sorgenfri, with some memorable flute and an excellent organ section it is a song that has been carefully constructed. Sagor Från Saaris offers a slightly harder edge and a darker feel to the mood of the piece with some great guitar work from Mikael Ödesjö.

Overall this is an excellent album and if you are not familiar with the music coming out of Scandinavia at the moment then this album would not be a bad place to start. Give it a listen, it is available now on CD, vinyl and download.

TRACK LISTING
01. Landet Längesen (10:29)
02. Sorgenfri (5:00)
03. Den Förtrollade Skogen (8:33)
04. Sagor Från Saaris (9:20)
05. Bortom Hemom (10:19)

Total time – 43:41

MUSICIANS
Tobias Petterson – Bass
Jeppe Juul – Organ
Jenny Puertas – Flute
Tim Wallander – Drums & Percussion
Mikael Ödesjö – Guitar

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Lasers Edge
Country of Origin: Sweden
Date of Release: 27th October 2017

LINKS
Agusa – Facebook | Bandcamp

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/02/19/king-crimson-to-release-new-live-album-in-april/
Featured

Published on 19th February 2018

King Crimson announce an April release date for their new 3CD set, Live In Vienna, recorded on 1st December 2016 and featuring a rendition of Fracture, last performed live in 1974.

“Mixed from the original multitracks discs one and two feature the complete first and second sets from the evening’s show. Disc three includes a series of soundscapes edited into newly sequenced pieces. Drawn from the introduction music (composed/improvised afresh for each night) & featuring Robert Fripp, Mel Collins & Tony Levin, this essential component of current live KC shows also receives its most complete presentation to date. In addition, the third disc includes the long awaited live recorded debut of Fracture by the 2016 line-up as performed in Copenhagen.”

Presented in a 4 fold-out digifile package with 16 pages booklet featuring tour photos & notes by David Singleton & housed in a slipcase. The three-disc set will be released on 6th April 2018, with pre-ordering available now.

TRACK LISTING
Disc One: First Set (Vienna, 2016)

01. Walk On: Soundscapes: Monk Morph Music Of The Chamber
02. Hell Hounds of Krim
03. Pictures of a City
04. Dawn Song Suitable Grounds for The Blues
05. VROOOM
06. The Construkction of Light
07. The Court of the Crimson King
08. The Letters
09. Sailors’ Tale
10. Interlude
11. Radical Action II
12. Level V

Disc Two: Second Set (Vienna, 2016)
01. Fairy Dust Of The Drumsons
02. Peace: An End
03. Cirkus
04. Indiscipline
05. Epitaph
06. Easy Money
07. Devil Dogs of Tessellation Row
08. Red
09. Meltdown
10. Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part Two
11. Starless

Disc Three: Encores and Expansions
01. Fracture
02. Heroes
03. 21st Century Schizoid Man
04. Schoenberg Softened His Hat
05. Ahriman’s Ceaseless Corruptions
06. Spenta’s Counter Claim

MUSICIANS
Mel Collins – Saxes & Flute
Robert Fripp – Guitar & Keyboards
Tony Levin – Basses, Stick & Voice
Pat Mastelotto – Drums
Gavin Harrison – Drums
Jakko Jakszyk – Guitar & Voice
Bill Rieflin – Keyboards
Jeremy Stacey – Drums & Keyboards

King Crimson will embark on a lengthy European tour during 2018.

King Crimson Uncertain Times 2018
13 Jun 2018 Earth Hall Poznan
14 Jun 2018 Earth Hall Poznan
16 Jun 2018 ICE Congress Hall Krakow
17 Jun 2018 ICE Congress Hall Krakow
18 Jun 2018 ICE Congress Hall Krakow
20 Jun 2018 Lichtburg Essen
21 Jun 2018 Lichtburg Essen
23 Jun 2018 Stadhalle Vienna
24 Jun 2018 Stadhalle Vienna
26 Jun 2018 Forum Karlin Prague
27 Jun 2018 Forum Karlin Prague
01 Jul 2018 Admiralspalast Berlin
02 Jul 2018 Admiralspalast Berlin
03 Jul 2018 Admiralspalast Berlin
05 Jul 2018 Cirkus Stockholm
06 Jul 2018 Cirkus Stockholm
08 Jul 2018 Sentrum Scene Oslo
09 Jul 2018 Sentrum Scene Oslo
10 Jul 2018 Sentrum Scene Oslo
13 Jul 2018 Concertgebouw Amsterdam
14 Jul 2018 Concertgebouw Amsterdam
16 Jul 2018 Philharmonie Munich
17 Jul 2018 Philharmonie Munich
19 Jul 2018 Teatro Grande Pompeii Naples
20 Jul 2018 Teatro Grande Pompeii Naples
22 Jul 2018 Auditorium Cavea Rome
23 Jul 2018 Auditorium Cavea Rome
25 Jul 2018 Piazza Napoleone Lucca
27 Jul 2018 Teatro La Fenice Venice
28 Jul 2018 Teatro La Fenice Venice
29 Oct 2018 Pavilion Theatre Bournemouth
31 Oct 2018 St David’s Hall Cardiff
02 Nov 2018 Palladium London
03 Nov 2018 Palladium London
06 Nov 2018 Symphony Hall Birmingham
09 Nov 2018 Bridgewater Hall Manchester
12 Nov 2018 Royal Concert Hall Glasgow
15 Nov 2018 L’Olympia Paris
16 Nov 2018 L’Olympia Paris

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/02/18/7shades-the-monumental-midden/

“I command you to be my master and I will not take no for an answer”, ends the introductory paranoiac’s jerk that is The Answers, the opening track on 7shades’ brand spanking new album of dark pop-tinged psychedelic hot egg juice, that emanates from the cracked shell sitting precariously atop your sensorily heightened and now sticky pate, the gloop slivering down through your hair, bubbling into your ears, leaving your synapses cross-wired and sparking joyfully.

Moving on from the almost-homage but nonetheless enticing draw of the Cardiacs’ suffused Bursting, Neil Spragg and his loony mates have created their own world, mired in this Monumental Midden, a place where the net is cast wider than before, both lyrically and musically.

Themes coalesce into a glorious glutinous mass where humanity’s corruption and greed seem to be sending it blindly hurtling towards a fast approaching precipice. But who cares when you can dance to it, and even celebrate a degree of bodily uncertainty in Eye For An Eye

“A leg for a leg and a nose for a nose
So you hobble along past the blooming red rose
Maybe some day you’ll work out where everything goes.”

The tune displays a fetching ascending crescendo, as does the following Everybody’s Got Something To Hide (Except An Exhibitionist), a lesson well learned from the never far away influence of Tim Smith’s far-reaching genius. The ascent bursts into a joyous romp on the spiffingly good instrumental The Dialogue, like the much anticipated end of the longest sentence in a Jack Kerouac novel, justifying all that went before. The air up here is rarefied.

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The band do not waste time while they are up here, doing The Pointy Elbow to The Elevator without so much as a by your leave. This may be a midden, but there are diamonds in the murk. This song will leave you breathless but panting for more. Several odd time signatures clash with a metronomic beat and the all-encompassing sparky pop sensibility that makes The Elevator a bit of a lift, and something of an album highlight.

The fun element is neatly balanced by the serious side of the band, with takedowns of social meeja’s “tiresome tittle tattle and endless pissy wit”, and lyrics addressing the serious concerns of disappearing privacy and identity in the corrupt modern world, lyrics that sometimes get overlooked in the headlong rush of the busy, always interesting instrumentation. Fop Killer is an art rock extravagance that will leave your ears ringing and your head spinning, leading into the necessarily calmer climes of the still unsettling Out Of The Woodwork, and onwards into the final six minutes of glorious ideas-in-collision that is Camouflage, where synthetic orchestras do battle with guitars and huge beats on the plains of Kashmir.

Yep, The Monumental Midden is a bit of a triumph, buy it, now!

TRACK LISTING
01. The Answers (3:14)
02. Hot Egg Juice (in a fiery skillet) (4:29)
03. Don’t Make Me Assume My Ultimate Form (4:12)
04. Eye For An Eye (4:12)
05. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide (Except An Exhibitionist) (7:55)
06. The Dialogue (5:26)
07. The Elevator (6:27)
08. Kidneys (5:45)
09. Deaf Ears (4:03)
10. Fop Killer (5:01)
11. Out Of The Woodwork (2:59)
12. Camouflage (6:13)

Total Time – 59:57

MUSICIANS
Neil Spragg – Vocals & Technology Wrangler
Andy Read – Electric & Classical Guitar
Lance Ruffoon – Bass
The Libbertine – Vocals
Joshua Ryan – Electric Guitar

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Snafu Recordings
Catalogue#: SNAFU077
Date of Release: 27th November 2017

LINKS
7Shades – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/02/17/believe-seven-widows/

Death is bewildering. Something beautiful, precious, is gone never to be seen again. Our cries of anguish, the wrenching pain of our dejection, the awful agony of our newly discovered and unwanted aloneness is a heartbroken call to anyone and to everyone to recognise the irreplaceable value of what has been lost. The abject removal of a uniquely familiar presence in our lives is the rending of everything that has been built together across a life time, no matter how short, and the loss of all the hopes and dreams, the plans and the anticipation for a happily shared future.

Joy Davidman is reported to have told C.S. Lewis shortly before her own death from cancer: “It is easier for the one who goes first”. Believe’s stunning sixth studio album, Seven Widows, is an exquisitely conceived and emotionally penetrating protest which carries the raw cry of bereavement directly from this smouldering heart of desolation. It speaks of the profound sadness and aching silences which remain with us forever. And it unflinchingly cherishes the suffering of a love that refuses to surrender or to be overcome by death.

We suffer because we love. We cry out in desperation because the pain of their absence is more real than any presence and the reality of their being gone is so much more tangible than their being alive once was. Mirek Gil’s brilliance in the writing of this album is in taking the stories of seven widows and creating musical narratives which tell the simple tale of the what was and now is not, and how this reverberates in the lives of those who are left behind.

In the process it marks a magnificent – even triumphant – return to form four years after the rather underwhelming The Warmest Sun in Winter. The seven stories translate into seven tracks, the shortest of which comes in at just over eight minutes, which in turn creates an invaluable sense of unhurried space. There is no rush to tell the story; the heart speaks in the way it needs to be heard and the music has a corresponding sense of organic development and natural timing.

What has changed is the return of Satomi’s inspirational violin playing, sadly marginalised in previous releases, but now serving as the textured, dynamic heart which beats so effusively at the thrumming centre of this new musical vision. It brings character, presence and voice to the sound stage and engages you with flashes of insights, perceptions and moods. It says ‘Come, look at this; over here, listen to this.’ The playing is delightfully suggestive, a muse and guide which gently shows us the way.

Gil’s guitar playing is mesmerising in the voice it gives to the empty pain of loss, to the tears of despair, to the lonely wail of isolation. Robert Kubajek’s drumming brings heart and vibrancy, breathing life into the tumultuous turmoil of emotions which ebb and flow throughout each story. It is the perfect mix with Przemysław Zawadzki’s bass playing that really speaks of the anger often associated with hurt, with the relentless circling of thoughts, the mind which cannot and will not switch itself off, each memory recalled a further stab of loss.

Throughout it all new band member Łukasz Ociepa provides the perfect vocal performance which rides the seas of grief from anguish to forlorn emptiness, from hollow hopes to heart aching resentment, self accusation and the keen sense of injustice. The album is an incredible vehicle for the melodic, at times symphonic, expression of the emotions, thoughts and feelings we go through at the end of a life. It is perfect in its construction, elegant in its execution and an absolute delight to listen to.

Above all else, however, Seven Widows does something even more important. For those who are left behind, it shows how music can redeem the memory of suffering, how it can preserve the meaning of what our lives have been and how, by telling musical stories of those whom we once loved and whom we still love, they continue to live in our hearts. This is a supremely beautiful album, with the potential to become an immensely important project, which works on so many levels to let those whom we mourn live again.

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TRACK LISTING
01. Widow I (10:49)
02. II (9:08)
03. III (8:12)
04. IV (11:42)
05. V (8:35)
06. VI (8:37)
07. VII (8:19)

Total Time – 65:22

MUSICIANS
Mirek Gil – Guitar
Robert ‘Qba’ Kubajek – Drums
Łukasz Ociepa – Vocals
Satomi – Violin, Keyboards
Przemysław Zawadzki – Bass

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Music and More Records
Country of Origin: Poland
Date of Release: 25th October 2017

LINKS
Believe – Website | Facebook | Soundcloud

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/02/16/weedpecker-iii/

The third long-player from this gathering of Polish potheads is a bewitching listen that demands repeated tokes at regular intervals.

A moniker like Weedpecker automatically brings with it certain expectations of sound, style and the accompanying trappings. However, this 4-piece from Warszawa, Poland deftly manages to both thwart those expectations and assuredly deliver on them. By inhaling elements from a wide array of pot-centred music from the early ’70s they feature a more panoramic sound than is the norm for this genre. Their maturation has been swift as each release has dramatically expanded on the musical vocabulary of the one before.

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The glittery guitars, trippy space-rock groove and lilting harmony vocals of guitarists Wyro and Bartek on opening cut Molecule immediately ingratiate. When it eventually gets heavy it manages to do so while maintaining the relaxed vibe, something less skilled bands have difficulty managing.

Embrace is a joy; a mixture of jangly psychedelic folk, Meddle-era Pink Floyd and in the dramatic instrumental mid-section, righteous tube-driven fury. It’s during this segment that some stylistic similarities appear between Weedpecker and Boston’s Elder, their label-mates on Stickman Records. Both groups have the ability to stretch out on long guitar features without ever sacrificing the song in the process.

Musically the album really hits a peak midway through first single Liquid Sky that it rides for the remainder of the album. The bass guitar-driven groove that begins right around the 3-minute mark is blissfully infectious and lays a hypnotic foundation for the guitars to build on. The jangly section in the coda a particular highlight.

From Mars To Mercury starts side two and it’s not only the longest cut on the album, but also its greatest achievement. Again, there’s a passing similarity here with Elder, especially in the heavy beginning and ending segments, but the gorgeous exploration during the mid-section is very distinctive and beautifully played by everyone involved. This is music that needs to be experienced with eyes closed and distractions shut out to really appreciate (herbal medicine optional).

Album-closer Lazy Boy And The Temple Of Wonders is a playful collision of ’60s psychedelia (later Beatles, Syd-era Floyd) and ’70s Zep guitar that ends things on a satisfying note. III is designed for LP, it clocks in at a brisk 42 minutes that splits perfectly onto two sides of vinyl. It’s refreshing to hear concise albums again! I think it’s better to leave the listener hungry for a little more.

I must also mention the production by Haldor Grunberg who recorded, mixed and mastered III. It’s a beautiful, organic sounding record, the mix really letting the layers of these compositions breathe.

TRACK LISTING
01. Molecule (7:05)
02. Embrace (8:59)
03. Liquid Sky (6:33)
04. From Mars To Mercury (10:36)
05. Lazy Boy And The Temple Of Wonders (8:51)

Total Time – 42:03

MUSICIANS
Wyro – Guitar & Vocals
Bartek – Guitar & Vocals
Mroku – Bass
Falon – Drums

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Stickman Records
Country of Origin: Poland
Date of Release: 5th January 2018

LINKS
Weedpecker – Facebook | Bandcamp

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/02/15/the-dark-element-the-dark-element/

When I first learned Anette Olzon (former vocalist for Nightwish) and Jani Liimatainen (founding member and guitarist for Sonata Arctica) were collaborating on a project called The Dark Element, I jumped at the chance to review it. Olzon is one of my favorite vocalists and Sonata Arctica is a band I recently discovered and have enjoyed, so I was expecting something wonderfully epic from this release. What I got wasn’t what I expected, but the more I listened, the more my disappointment faded.

Most of the songs follow the same basic pattern. They all start off sounding like they are going to be hard, metal tracks thanks to Liimatainen’s heavy riffs accompanied by synth strings, but the guitars soon recede into the background under Olzon’s vocals, which are supported largely by synth pads. A guitar solo leads into the final push to the end of the song. That isn’t to say the songs all sound alike. Nothing could be further from the truth, as each song has its own character. There are a few songs I want to highlight.

The ballad Someone You Used To Know is one of the highest highlights of the album. Sonically, the song focuses mainly on Olzon’s voice, which expresses the desperation of the lyric perfectly, and acoustic timbres. Heaven Of Your Heart sounds like the main love ballad from a Broadway show. Dead To Me is probably the closest thing to symphonic metal on the album with its use of the synth strings to reinforce the vocal line throughout and a greater interaction between the synth, guitars, and vocals. The Ghost And The Reaper is a close second. I particularly like the cello interlude that interrupts the build up to the final choruses.

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I Cannot Raise the Dead is much more electronica-influenced than the other songs on this album. Aside from the solo, the guitars are largely absent from this track except to provide some power to the chorus. It is otherwise dominated by synth sounds.

The album closer, Only One Who Knows Me was probably the song that took me the longest to get into. At first, it sounded like it is completely out of place, and I’m not a fan of the ’80s-style guitar solo fade-out ending. The more I listened to it, the more it seemed like it really fit as the closer. It is essentially a thank you to the person or people in life whose praise and admiration will still matter when celebrity fades and everything is said and done. I’m still not a big fan of the musical setting of the song, but it feels right on the album.

Living up to expectations is the biggest challenge for this album. Since the band was marketed on the reputation of the members’ former bands, I expected a product that would sound similar to those bands. Also, with a name like The Dark Element (and the accompanying cover art), I expected the music to have a darker, perhaps more Gothic sound with down-tuned guitars and darker lyrics. Instead what we get is bright music with lyrics mainly about love and love lost.

Overall, the album is more modern rock than symphonic metal, more like ABBA-meets-Evanescence or a synth-laden Halestorm than either Nightwish or Sonata Arctica. Once I got past my expectations, however, I really enjoyed this album. The songs are catchy and easy to sing along to. The overall musical textures are pleasing, and Olzon’s voice is as fine as ever. One minor, picky issue is that the Liimatainen gives some of his lyrics a bit of an edge through the occasional use of slangy grammar, like “don’t need no…” that commonly appears in rock lyrics. Olzon’s voice, however, is so clean and her diction so clear that it comes across more like your grandma reading Snoop Dogg lyrics than the gritty feel he was going for. Like I said, a minor, picky thing.

Overall, this is an enjoyable album to just put on in the background or in your car. It is a thoroughly commercial album. There is nothing remotely “progressive” about it, unless you are desperate to make it fit and you want to hang your hat on the occasional hemiola in the vocal line, so if you are looking for something complex that requires intense listening to grasp all the nuances, you will need to look somewhere else.

TRACK LISTING
01. The Dark Element (4:27)
02. My Sweet Mystery (5:00)
03. The Last Good Day (4:14)
04. Here’s To You (4:15)
05. Someone You Used To Know (4:24)
06. Dead To Me (5:29)
07. Halo (4:26)
08. I Cannot Rise The Dead (4:26)
09. The Ghost And The Reaper (5:22)
10. Heaven Of Your Heart (4:47)
11. Only One Who Knows Me (5:12)
12. Dead To Me (Almost Acoustic Version) (5:07)

Total Time – 57:09

MUSICIANS
Anette Olzon – Vocals
Jani Liimatainen – Guitars, Keyboards & Programming
Jonas Kuhlberg – Bass
Jani Hurula – Drums
~ With:
Jarkko Lahti – Piano (tracks 5 & 10)
Niilo Sevänen – Vocal Growls (track 6)
Anssi Stenberg – Backing Vocals
Petri Aho – Backing Vocals

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Frontiers Records
Catalogue#: FR CD 822
Date of Release: 8th November 2017

LINKS
The Dark Element – Facebook | Twitter

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