In a year where there seem to be more concept albums than ever and backed by a couple of alleged psychological observations this is, in Sigmund Freud sotto voce, “Very Interesting”. The premise is thus:
“It traces the life of a baby raised until age three in a secret government organisation, which aims to cure psychopathy while harnessing positive psychopathic traits for certain business and military roles. The character discovers the truth as a dysfunctional adult – with catastrophic consequences.”
I do believe I’ve worked there. The psych quotes “one in four selected candidates for any given job is the wrong choice” and “one in four CEO’s exhibits sociopathic or psychopathic behaviours”, observation suggests both are correct.
The originator of this is Steve Tilling, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, and he has gathered some interesting guests to help; Dave Gregory (XTC, Big Big Train), Phil Spalding (Mike Oldfield), Andy Neve (Steve Hackett) and others. Too many cooks? I think not, and being a concept I have no choice but to follow the path laid out before me.
Coming Home has a slight folk tinge, Gary Moore meets the Foo Fighters. So far so good, as the experimental child is introduced, leading into the even more Foo My Degenerate Mind, sung with a hint of Grohl.
If the concept included being FM Radio friendly (or should that be DAB now?) it succeeds very well, and there is no let up with Stars which bounces along very nicely, as our character is shaped to take their place in society – so much for destiny. The dark and disturbing Days Erased is spoken with a rasping menace, relating the dark fate of our protagonist.
It is at this juncture that I should point out the need for the narrative, in CD form, the booklet, in download (and for those of an age where the writing is too small), the PDF. It is a story perhaps told before, but well written and constructed. Reading and listening improves the sense of flow, though it flows well without, and after a few reads it will become memorised. Sci-Fi is littered with genetically engineered creatures; nice booklet, suitably dark artwork.
Strings pulls us along, our central figure becoming aware of their manipulation, in a tune not dissimilar in style to that of Dave Kerzner on his New World album. The Amazing Monstrous Grady holds to that FM strategy, is this a bad thing? No, it makes for some good listening in which you can choose to become involved, or not.
The conclusion plays out as a suite. Mixing all the styles there in, a crossover between the melodic and metal ends of the progressive spectrum with some nicely weighted radio airplay thrown in for good measure. It is a very good album, nice on the ears, some sterling work by the guests, great vocals by Steve Tilling, and definitely in the upper echelons of albums released in 2017. My metal loving sister would like it very much, so that’s one Christmas present sorted.
Steve says, “The album mirrors the ups and downs in my life while making it… There were dark times, but everything ended positively. I wanted to make an album that’s fun to listen to but has a good story for those who like to dig deeper.” I would have to say that from that aim, success has been achieved. The story has been told, 5 years in the making, and the only question it poses for me is, what will Steve Tilling’s next project sound like?
01. Coming Home (2:32)
02. My Degenerate Mind (4:17)
03. Stars (5:06)
04. Days Erased (1:52)
05. Strings (4:06)
06. Blame It On Me (4:44)
07.The Amazing Monstrous Grady (5:38)
The Chosen One:
09. Baptism (3:20)
10. Transfiguration (5:16)
11. Crucifixion (1:40)
12. Resurrection (6:18)
13. Ascension (5:06)
Total Time – 50:55
Steve Tilling – Vocals, Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Piano, Percussion, Drums, Synthesisers, Field Recordings, Calliope
Matt Backer – End Guitar Solo (on The Chosen One – Transfiguration), Additional Guitar (on The Chosen One – Ascension)
Dave Gregory – Guitars (on Strings & The Chosen One – Ascension)
Alan van Kleef – Drums
Andy Neve – Keyboards & Synthesisers (on Days Erased)
Phil Spalding – Harmony Vocals (on Coming Home & The Chosen One – Transfiguration)
Johnny Warman – Harmony Vocals & Sideshow Calling (on The Amazing Monstrous Grady)
Lou Young – CIRCU5 Psychologist (on The Chosen One – Resurrection)
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Year of Release: 2017