Melodic Revolution Records Feature Album March 2018 | Marco Ragni | The Wandering Caravan
Label – Melodic Revolution Records Release Year – 2018 Country – Italy/International Genre – Progressive/Psychedelic Rock
Band Members Marco Ragni – Vocals/Electric and Acoustic Guitars/Bass/Keyboards/Mellotron/Piano/Mandolin Dave Newhouse – Sax/Clarinet/Flute/Keyboards and Woodwinds Arrangements Jeff Mack – Bass Peter Matchuniak – Lead Guitar Maurizio Antonini – Drums
Special Guests Luca Zambini – Hammond Organ Ian Beabout – Flute Nadav Yitzhak – Oud Michael Zentenar – Violin
Track Listing What We Have Done In The Past We’ll Be In The Future Waiting On The Threshold Promised Land Which Is The Right Path To Take ? It’s Only Fantasy What Are We Willing To Lose To Regain Our Freedom ? Keep Dreaming Back Home Again
Sometime in early to mid spring of 2015 I came into a discovery of Melodic Revolution Records. Its founder Nick Katona had friend requested me over on Facebook and soon the discovery unfolded much like the opening of Pandora’s Box for me. The talent on this label is on par with any other label on the planet today. As far as progressive rock, psychedelic rock, etc … Melodic Revolution Records is both untapped as far as its deep roster of talent and a label on the verge of just one release breaking right to become a household name within the progressive, psychedelic rock community. I feel that the subject of this review Marco Ragni will have a lot of say into the future of Melodic Revolution Records as a collective.
Marco Ragni is no stranger to the Power Of Prog community either. Back in 2016 I presented two very different reviews of this Italian Progressive Genius. The first was the very personal introspective double concept album Mother From The Sunand the very intelligent and thought provoking Land Of Blue Echoes. Now in 2018 I return to review the appropriately titled, Marco Ragni’s The Wandering Caravan. This current offering sees Marco Ragni return with some familiar faces and label mates such as Jeff Mack – Bass – (Scarlet Hollow), Peter Matuchniak – Guitar – (Gekko Project, The Steppes Tribute To Early Steve Hackett and Bomber Goggles).
Then there are some newer musicians to the Marco Ragni franchise. Making their debut’s to the franchise on The Wandering Caravan are Italian drummer Maurizio Antonini, Luca Zabbini – Hammond Organ– (Barock Project), Ian Beabout – Flute, Nadav Yitzhak – Oud, Michael Zentiner – Violin – (Zenlandband). Marco Ragni has a uncanny ability to assemble world class musicians on his projects and The Wandering Caravan is certainly no exception. The returning talent is also a testament that Melodic Revolution Records has a very heavy family like atmosphere where its musicians really want to work with one another.
With The Wandering Caravan, Marco Ragni brings a little of his last four releases with him. There are some of the vast atmospheric structures from Mother From The Sun, the technical, yet futuristic and forward thinking progressive rock from Land Of Blue Echoes, there are the more precise to the point radio hits much in the vein of Californiawith songs like It’s Only Fantasy, Back Home Again,Which Is The Right Path To Take and Promised Land, with some of the more experimental psychedelic elements of Rajanty especially with tracks such as What We Have Done In The Past We’ll Be In The Future and Waiting On The Threshold. The Wandering Caravan is basically a progressive rock symphony in 8 movements. Each movement that I will now proceed to elaborate on.
What We Have Done In The Past We’ll Be In The Future begins with a little Latin flair with the acoustic guitar style of Marco Ragni himself. It soon fortifies into a well structured atmospheric track off the flamenco acoustic chord progressions. The acoustical chord progressions allow for the heavier more straight forward lead guitar sections which are done by one of the world’s most criminally under rated guitarists Mr. Peter Matchuniak, (Gekko Project, The Steppes : A Tribute To Early Steve Hackett). Peter Matchuniak is a beautiful well balanced blend of David Gilmour meets Steve Hackett with a sprinkle of ‘The Canterbury Sound’ of Pye Hastings of Caravan.
A cacophony of various woodwind instruments along with a Hammond Organ make for a blast of sheer progressive bliss. They carry elements or progressive rock’s past with modern more contemporary elements for a current listening audience. This is also a a testament of true growth as a songwriter and musician that accompanies further maturity. With the flutes there is a heavy Jethro Tull style within this track. Whether it is deliberate or by influence it is done with the utmost taste and class. This is all enhanced by lyrical content that allows the listener to take the song in so many directions within the screen of the theater of the mind.
Waiting On The Threshold opens up with a fine woven tapestry of various piano, wind and keyboard passages. Marco’s very distinct vocal comes in with semi isolation off the instrumental portion. The relationship between the vocal and instrumental allows for both sides the ability to breathe without one suffocating the other. There is also a beautiful dynamic of lead guitar and acoustic guitar’s in a gentle, warm inviting melody. The underlying flute makes for a very interesting world music element that will have a instant international flavour to the composition. This one is also full of some longer instrumental passages.
This track also contains some heavily induced folk elements. Marco Ragni has some strong elements of Pink Floyd and Cat Steven’s vocal elements blended with the great expanse of the instrumental working perfectly in union with one another. The song closes out with some beautifully arranged jazz elements which are articulated by the saxophone. Some of the closing jazz portions remind me a lot of Weather Report meets Camel with a little twist of Caravan.
Promised Land opens up with a very strong psychedelic folk passage. This is created with the well blended elements of acoustic and semi acoustic guitar’s mixed with elegant flutes to accompany them. Soon the vocal harmonies and more up tempo chord progressions enter in along with the powerful rhythm section. This is the first track on the album that really has a distinct and definite rhythm section compared to the previous two songs. The rhythm section has more atmospheric than heavy laden time signatures. It also transitions smooth and seamlessly into the following track Which Is The Right Path To Take? The seamless transition has some serious overall 1960’s style psychedelic vocal harmony’s and song melodies.
Which Is The Right Path To Take? picks up smoothly where Promised Land left off. It does so with heavy and profound psychedelic elements. The vocal harmonies are very woven off various layers where one vocal track is blended in from another vocal harmony. This layering continues to the point where there are three to four vocals playing off and on each other. The various vocal layers continue until there is a main lead vocal passage anchoring the track. The lead guitar has a heavy influence into the various directions of the song. These heavy stringed influenced sections are a definite staple into the identity of Marco Ragni’s music and this track validates this. Both the lead and backing vocal’s run in spot on perfect time with the open expanse of the stringed section.
It’s Only Fantasy opens up with a deep dark piano passage. The passage gives the listener the appearance that Marco is isolated in a open acoustic friendly room with just him, his heart and voice. This is very heavily laden elements of Avant Garde and RIO, (Rock In Opposition). This is done with a lead piano chord progression that meets up with various woodwind instruments along with some semi conventional keyboard passages that sound very heavy in a regressive state of mind. If you, the listener, enjoy some Avant Garde/RIOcream in your straight blacken normal progressive coffee than this is perfect to start your morning music journey. This song finishes up with more straight away traditional heavy prog chord progressions.
What Are We Willing To Lose To Regain Our Freedom? opens up with a more traditional progressive rock passage. You can hear all the hallmarks that distinguish progressive rock from other genres. There is a beautifully performed Hammond Organ along with a deep bass and drum aesthetic. The deep tones from both the rhythm section and organ synth’s along with the strong atmospheric backdrop satisfy the purists of the genre. Soon the instrumental atmosphere gives way to various effects of innocence as we here children at play. Much like Mother From The Sun, Marco Ragni has a very uncanny method at conveying innocence through his musical compositions. What Are We Willing To Lose To Regain Our Freedom? continues to validate what seems to be a signature staple in Marco Ragni’s musical legacy. Overall What AreWe Willing To Lose To Regain Our Freedom? is a very uplifting song that is both a progressive rock opus and a classic rock masterpiece.
Keep Dreaming opens up with a deep profound piano with highly lush tones and dark melodies. The added beauty in darkness is the vocal which perfectly compliments the instrumental section. The first few minutes transport the listener into a symphony hall atmosphere. Soon after a hint of the acoustic guitar is sprinkled in to add melodious flavour to the arrangement. The song goes from dark and somber to one of uplifting enlightenment. The instrumental is uplifting and the lyrical portion is in perfect harmony to the instrumental. Marco Ragni always has a intricate way of taking the listeners minds and moods from dark somber landscapes to horizons of pure enlightenment. Towards the end the track display’s heavy symphonic and progressive folk elements. Keep Dreaming is a classic textbook example to this. It is also a track with many vintage elements from the late 1960’s and 1970’s however with a modern 21st Century accent on it. Keep Dreaming seamlessly transitions into the final song of the album Back Home Again. The transition reminds me a lot of the seamless transition from Any Colour You Like to Brain Damage off Pink Floyd’s Darkside Of The Moon.
Back Home Again transitions beautifully from Keep Dreaming. The track takes a very heavy folk rock chord progression along with vocal harmonies that perfectly compliment the instrumental part. The tone that Back Home Again takes is very simple yet relaxed. This is written in such a way that allows the listener to begin to absorb and appreciate what that have just heard on the album as a collective, which is difficult to do sometimes. The violin eloquently performed by Michael Zentenar is the unsung hero on this one and helps to anchor mood of the song.
In the short few years I have known Marco Ragni through social media and his music, it has completely been bewildering and inspiring all at the same time. He definitely has the ability to transcend many sub genres that now lay under the progressive rock banner. Marco Ragni is definitely one of progressive rock’s new standard bearer’s who is carrying the flag among the contemporary progressive rock community. The Wandering Caravan is another masterpiece that will cement Marco Ragni’s legacy as such. I give Marco Ragni’s The Wandering Caravan a 5/5.
There are many things going on with Forever Twelve’s Home. First of all this is their debut album for Melodic Revolution Records. The second being many many influences within the band’s dynamic happening here. Third of all this proves once again that the staff of Melodic Revolution Records continues to think outside the ‘proverbial box’ to grow their ever growing roster. According to Forever Twelve’s Official Facebook Page :
What others have said: …elements of jazz, folk, rock, fusion, neo-prog, classical and pop all used to serve a musical purpose, express a certain mood or idea …should especially appeal to fans of Marillion, Clepsydra, or Flamborough Head …These original songs show influences by Genesis, Yes, Camel, and Rush, among others
I say there is much more going on in all three areas of how the band sound, what fans would listen to this band and the influences of the band. Forever Twelve are a return to progressive rock in its purist form. This band takes it back where people trashed the three minute single for a song that was the length of a entire 22 1/2 minutes on vinyl. A time when people preferred the 4-8 panel gatefold and appreciated all the art in its purist form. It takes us back to the time when keyboards began to be celebrated instead of tolerated. It takes us back to the time when Billy Ritchie of 1-2-3/Clouds fame, basically gave birth to the progressive rock genre and influenced a few guys, one would be a guy named Keith Emerson, another would be Robert Fripp and another few guys by the name of Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman.Yes literally that Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson.
.When I listen to Forever Twelve’s Home I am reminded of the early period of progressive rock that allowed people both an escape through the melodious labyrinth’s of multiple time signatures and chord progressions and unique rhythmic changes and further intellectual nurturing through its dreamscapes due to its lyrical content and concepts. Forever Twelve also seem to embrace this earlier period of progressive rock along with the later periods of Supertramp and neo progressive periods of the 1980’s.
Forever Twelve’s dedication to the craft is very reminiscent to 1-2-3/Clouds, Yes, Caravan. Eloy, Genesis, Lindisfarne,Fairport Convention, Strawbs and Eclection on the earlier end. On the more current and modern end elements of Marillion, Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Spock’s Beard, Enchant and The Samurai Of Prog come to mind. The band has a very uncanny ability to take all those earlier influences and bands and create their own distinct sound without it appearing to be dated, imitated or duplicated. They also do this without watering anything down as well.
Throughout the duration of the seven songs on Forever Twelve’s Home the band certainly manages to stay true to the very core values that have come to define progressive rock as a genre to some and a lifestyle to others. Throughout the remainder of this review I will be pointing out the various influences that shine through from every song that makes up Forever Twelve’s Home.
The Seven Seas opens up from the first note with the fullness of the band. You have a very deep rhythm section serving as the anchor. Meanwhile in harmony to the deep rhythm section you have the fullness of the stringed section serving as a rudder in which to steer the track in its various time signatures and chord progressions. The band manages to balance all of this where it is not overwhelming as to invite the listener in with ease. Along with such beautiful harmonic balance between the instruments, you have the angelic voice of John Baker. The vocal reminds me of all the best parts of Jon Anderson of Yes meets Rodger Hodgson of Supertramp going on within John Baker.
There also seems to be subtle elements of jazz in the tradition of the late Alan Holdsworth going on underneath the fullness of the arrangement. Although more of a neo progressive style, I would be remiss in saying that this contains some heavy prog elements in melody with the neo progressive nature.This track is also as much guitar driven as it is keyboards in the stringed section. The deep bass/drum rhythm section in harmony with the deep keyboard portions provide a very heavy prog melody throughout the track.
Home begins with a drum along with the bass serving more and a percussive instrument within the rhythmic section. From there the guitar shines through to allow the fullness of the bands instrumental to breathe. After all this beautiful open melody the track drops and breaks and allows for the warmth in the vocals to enter with the instrumental to achieve a full harmony. Also after the break and vocal the track takes a more atmospheric nature with the steady flow on keyboards while the rhythm section serves as a backbone to the vocals. The track also includes intricate time signatures and chord progressions more in the tradition of Knight Area meets Cairo. This track has some more emphasis on vocal harmonies as well that add more depth to the song in general.
Daisy Chain is the band’s first single off Home. This track maintains the jazz style integrity that seems to be a unsung hero to the album. While the deep rhythm sections and atmospheric elements with the keyboards serve as ground zero for the album, the jazz elements really trigger the time signatures as much as the progressive elements. The band have a very keen sense on when to employ a jazz based time signature and a progressive time signature. Daisy Chain is a prime example of this.The song takes a break midway through with a semi solo that allows the various instruments to execute more intricate chord progressions. This track is also very loaded with classic progressive rock elements much like ELP meets Yes. The band really draw from many parts of the progressive rock spectrum and this song is a perfect example of it.
Kansas By The Sea is one of the more experimental and atmospheric songs the band has offered up on Home. It opens with a beautiful effect of a ocean wave washing up against the shoreline. This happens in melody and harmony with a piano. The ocean effect with the piano give the track a conceptual feel about it. This is a track that could open up introductions to newer fans going forward. The guitar and bass lines also give the appearance of two different instrumental characters within the song. Lyrically this is both a retrospective track and one of optimism equally. The song also has a very robust chorus working for it among its experimental nature. This song has periodic breaks to set up the next part of the desired story of the band. Towards the end the song takes on a very heavy prog King Crimson style in the tradition of 21st Century Schizoid Man.
Karmageddon starts out with various effects of the city before going into a very guitar and bass driven chord progression. This is the heaviest song on Home. The bass and guitar really send the mind and emotions of the listener on a immediate roller coaster ride. It soon drops a bit and a very balanced vocal comes into play. From there the track takes on a more methodical purpose. Every riff, every portion of the instrumental has a definite purpose and does not serve as just any old filler for the song. The drums really send this song into rhythmic areas that are very unorthodox. The band shows its full time signature and chord progression prowess on this song. All of this really makes the song a very unique offering to the album. The keyboards are more in the Hammond Organ tradition.
Acoustic Rose is just that a rose. It opens up with a beautiful acoustic guitar and keyboard atmosphere that allows the listener to settle in and start to really digest the entire album. This is just as strong with the lyrical and vocal harmonies as it is with the instrumental melodies. The deep rhythm section lays back a bit for the more guitar and keyboard driven atmospheres to shine through. The vocal harmonies have a very folk Crosby,Stills, Nash & Young vibe working about them as well. This seamlessly transitions into the next song Fate Is In Our Hands.
Fate Is In Our Hands is the seventh and final song on Home. This transitions seamlessly off the prior song Acoustic Rose. This opens up like a old school gritty blues based guitar chord progression. The added crackle of vinyleffect is very rare in the era of digital media. The listener can easily notice that the band is paying homage to the essential roots that made progressive rock not only a genre but a lifestyle. This has both a heavy Pink Floyd meets King Crimson atmosphere. The band does a great job playing a summary of elements on here that really tie all the album together as a cohesive unit. This one is also heavy King Crimson induced throughout the entire track.
After listen to this I come to the conclusion that Melodic Revolution Records has another great signing on its hands. I would encourage the band to tour with this. I believe a live experience of these songs and this album in particular would be a real treat to fans both old and new to Forever Twelve. This is a band that could easily qualify for a Cal Prog, ROSFest even Prog/Power USA & Prog/Power Europe. I give Forever Twelve’s Home a 5/5 .
Melodic Revolution Records Feature Album January/February 2017 Alex Grata & Anton Darusso|Brothers In Arms
Label: Melodic Revolution Records Release Year: 2017 Country: Multinational Genre: Hard Rock/Progressive/Rock/Melodic Rock
Alex Grata: Vocals and Assorted Instruments Anton Darusso: Vocals and Assorted Instruments Jason Jenkins: Guitar Solo on 2 Dmitry 4Vergov: Guitar Solo on 4, 10, 11 Dmitry Turin: Guitar Solo on 1, 4, 6, 11 Toledo: Rapper 6, 8 Olga Larina: Backing Vocals 6 Marco Vinicio Castro Pinagel: Arrangement, Programing Guitars 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11 Roman Zaslavsky: Arrangement, Programing 8, 12 Girls-Band: Assorted Vocals 10 Sixth Sense 2
1) Nothing to Hide – 3:58 2) Blind – 2:13 3) It’s Time for Love – 4:56 4) Drops of Compassion – 3:21 5) Frozen Tears – 4:52 6) So Many Ways to Go – 4:05 7) When the Music’s Over – 4:02 8) Super Hero – 3:18 9) Keep the Fire Burning – 3:40 10) Angel Like You – 3:23
Melodic Revolution Records has a never ending mission to be totally distinctive and to stand out among their peers and contemporaries in the music industry. They are willing to sign and bands and give them a chance where some other labels would pass on. It seems that every time I do a Melodic Revolution Records feature on Power of Prog here that I come across a band that continues to hold true with Brothers In Arms. This is a rather new musical venture founded by Alex Grata out of Russia and Anton Darusso out of San Jose, Costa Rica.
This truly is a international flavour within the structure of a two man outfit plus friends. Alex Grata and Anton Darusso take their respective local and international musical influences and create some of the most original melodic hard rock, melodic heavy metal that I have heard in some time. Brothers In Arms is like a mixture of Whitesnake meets Angra with a little bit of The Police and Eddie Grant.
The only thing I can see as formulaic on Brothers In Arms is opening up with a few rocker tracks in Nothing To Hide and Blind to the ballad of the third song It’s Time For Love. Out side of being formulaic in that manner, Alex & Anton go into areas of writing, mixing, recording and mastering the album as a collective that changes the traditional hard rock discourse. They allowed themselves such depth and expanse where they could not exactly be pigeonholed into one sound to the next.
On top of straight ahead traditional melodic progressive metal, hard rock, there are so very obvious progressive elements in Brothers In Arms. When I say progressive I mean more towards progressive elements utilized by bands like Deep Purple’s Mark 2 & 3,Rush’s Fly By Night through Moving Pictures era and some Glenn Hughes through the years. Now I will go into some highlights of Alex Grata & Anton Durasso’s Brothers In Arms.
Nothing to Hide starts out with a two tone harmonic with a piano followed by a thunderous intro. Both the rhythm section and a wall of vocals immediately demand the listeners attention. There is a lot of chord bending here also. The vocals are very Glenn Hughes in nature with a bit more bass in the voice. The harmonies come off very clean as well. There is also a nice spoken word narrative going on.
( Anton Durasso – Time For Love )
Blind opens up as a straight away 1970’s atmosphere with the driving riffs and vocals. It is catchy enough for radio, yet has a sensibility that also appeals to the listener that has a more non radio indie audio pallet. Blind also has infectious solo’s.
It’s Time for Love is one of the ballads from Brothers in Arms. It opens up with a passage that has a lush piano/synth backbone. This is one of those traditional ballads that you can share with your significant other or as reflection of a past relationship. Like most ballads this is a huge vocal harmony based track. Towards the last half it takes a nice break where the vocals are more isolated where the listener can digest the song.
Drops of Compassion starts off almost in the vibe of a AOR style track. AOR meaning something from Toto or even Jim Peterik. It soons takes a more of a driving hard rock approach thereafter. Once again Alex Grata and Anton Durasso establish Brothers In Arms as a very vocal oriented project. There are even elements of Reggae within the vocals on this one. The heavy guitar solos and deep rhythmic sections continue on this one.
Frozen Tears is another ballad on the album that opens up with a beautiful piano passage. This is also perfectly complimented by by a isolated harmony in the vocals. Soon the track picks up and turns into a more rock/ballad with heavier guitars and deep bass on rhythm sections. There are parts in the vocal structure that hint at light power elements like Angra from Brazil. The guitar solo is absolutely beautiful. If the band are to ever play live I see Frozen Tears as a setlist fixture.
So Many Ways to Go opens up with a very deep Reggae style track much in the vein of a Bob Marley And The Whalers meets Eddie Grant with a hint of Toto, Africa era. This is another track that has potential in finding a un compromised niche audience. Some of the guitar solo’s remind me of Neil Schon of Journey.
When the Music’s Over starts off with a slight Beatles 1960’s style isolated vocals. This track hits the listener on many levels. It is also the more progressive rock oriented track with multiple changes within the track. It is those multiple changes that keep the listener continually involved. The passages kind of even go as far as to change in full genres between the verse chorus passage.
Super Hero begins with a very nasty melodic metal guitar style. It will take the traditional hard rock audience a little bit of time to absorb the funk element in the track. This is as if Earth Wind and Fire were to include a melodic metal element in their compositions
Keep the Fire Burning is the third and final ballad on the album. It is very traditional hard rock on the instrumental portion. However, it is also very modern with the vocal harmonies. With the vocal harmony it is very very experimental. The vocal ranges are much like the higher register of a David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes from Deep Purple’s Mark 3 era.
Angel Like You is not really a ballad. It is once again the guys really experimenting and taking hard melodic rock to different levels. The addition of the female vocal reminds me heavily of Robin Beck or even a Sass Jordan. The male vocal is being pumped with a slightly filtered register. This is a full confirmation of the guys goal of giving the world a very vocal oriented hard rock, melodic metal album.
Although I really do not see a heavy progressive side to Brothers In Arms it still represents all other claims of hard rock, melodic metal. Brothers In Arms is another step into the evolution and possibility of where hard rock or melodic metal can go. This album was not just thrown together either. It was very well thought out and written over time. Alex Grata & Anton Durasso also have something to influence and perhaps recruit future generations of musicians with experimentation . This album gets a 4/5 for its experimental nature.
Mix up one part Saga, the other part Triumph, another part Rush’s Moving Pictures take the voice down a little more into the area of bass and you have the modern Prog recipe for Nth Ascension. Planted first by Alan ‘Spud’ Taylor as a childhood dream and later joined in the field in 1984 with the likes of Robert Stirzaker (Counterparts) – Drums, Martin Walker (Nth Ascension) – Guitars,Andrew Keeling (composer) –Keyboards, and in 1986 Darrel Treece-Birch (TEN and Nth Ascension) – Keyboards would eventually lead to the origins of NTH Ascension in 2010.
By 2016 the current line up of Nth Ascension would be complete with Alan ‘Spud’ Taylor – Vocals , Darrel Treece-Birch – Keyboards , Craig Walker – Drums & Percussion , Gav Walker – Bass , Martin Walker – Guitars. This line up is full of long progressive atmospheric compositions and instrumentally technical prowess. The band ranges from traditional progressive rock of the 1960’s – 1970’s with the neo-progressive sensibilities of the 1980’s and the more electronic and technical elements of the 1990’s – 2000’s. However what the separating factor is with Nth Ascension compared to their peers and contemporaries is the lower than normal vocal register of its leader Alan’Spud’ Taylor. His vocal register has a little of Michael Sadler (Saga), Matt Barlow, (Iced Earth) with a twist of the legendary John Wetton (King Crimson), this makes for a very distinct vocal apart from the rest in the progressive community.
Nth Ascension have returned with their second album In Fine Initium and are officially making their Melodic Revolution Records debut as well. In Fine Initium’s sound, I believe, is a look into progressive rock’s future by using well established progressive rock and metal staples. You know that power progressive rock, slightly heavy melodic metal. I admire the fact that Nth Ascension can not be pigeonholed nor typecast into a solid particular genre. They are the type of band with the appeal to reach a little bit of everyone within the progressive rock or even classic rock communities.
The album opens up with a explosive epic in Kingdom Keys.
Kingdom Keys opens almost like that of a film score or movie soundtrack with every instrument in harmony with one another to make a bold passage. The band comes out firing on all pistons here. Soon there is a break in the music and the warm vocals come into play. At around the 4:00 mark the track goes through various time signatures and identity that gives the band their unique progressive sound. With thunderous rhythm section on top of a deep symphonic keyboard and guitar stringed section that gives the song two different sides, Kingdom Keys certainly is a great foundation track to begin the album with. On the way towards the end there is a semi spoken word section which the band double tracks. It is a nice bridge keeping the song going.
End Of Days begins with a heavy brooding atmosphere created out of the fingers of Darrel Treece Birch. Soon a traditional straight away progressive hard rock track emerges to open the track up more. Like Kingdom Keys, End Of Days has a very movie soundtrack style to it. On top of the heavy keyboard there is a very deep tuned down feel to the rhythm section. Lyrically it is a song of redemption and positivity About the 4:30 mark the track goes through time signatures that also serve as mood changers for the objective listener. The 4:00 outro takes the listener from the summits of the stringed section to the valleys of the rhythm section equally and at times concurrent to one another.
So, That Was The Apocalypse is a instrumental track. It consists of deep rhythm sections with a flair of vintage progressive rock Hammond style organ. This sounds like old school Bad Company and Foghat meets Yes. It has both the straight up classic rock vibe with progressive elements and standards. This serves as a perfect bridge track for The Cage.
The Cage starts with a beautiful piano intro that is quickly joined by both drums and bass in the rhythm section. The guitar comes in to give the track a added atmospheric passage. Soon all instruments lead into the open lyrical verse and the band sounds like a well oiled machine at this point. The Cage is ‘The Epic’ on the album. This is a true roller coaster of the audio senses as it goes in and out of explosive rock passages met with a taste of ballad. Especially at the 5:00 mark where the track takes on layer upon layer of various atmospheres between the keyboard and bass and cymbals. The vocal takes on a David Bowie ‘Space Oddity’ style during this time. Around the 7:00 mark the instrumental takes various curves along the rhythmic highway with neo-progressive road signs with the various chord progressions and time signatures employed by the band. The instrumental rhythm sections are practically AOR/melodic metal in their very nature.
In Search Of The Rider (Clanaan Part 4) picking up where Nth Ascension’s first album Ascension of Kings, In Search of The Rider (Clanaan Part 4) is a epic song that will span over several albums much like Dream Theater did with the Bill W. AA Suite over several albums. The band does a excellent job picking up in the continuation of this story. This also is a very good middle track in that it feels like more of a transitional track towards a much bigger portion to the epic. This also serves as the perfect ‘batton-track‘ in that In Fine Initium continues the story appropriately where Ascension of Kings left off.
Forever (Clanaan Part 5) continues the epic journey with a great rhythm drum fill and a lush atmospheric keyboard passage. The guitar work borders along the lines of Pink Floyd meets Saga. This track is very well balance and also serves as a bridge track within the greater picture of the epic that is Clanaan as a collective. This track has a lot of modern progressive elements as well.
When The Rainfalls (Clanaan Part 6) is the paradox, it both ends the album and continues the ongoing story of Clanaan. This is a lush semi electric guitar track met with warm vocals much like a full ballad.
Nth Ascension have sure opened up more possibility of how progressive rock and music in general sounds. In Fine Initium is yet another evolution into progressive rock’s future by blending the past with the present. This album should provide for a solid set list in live settings. Nth Ascension’s In Fine Initium gets a 4.5/5.
Phil Brown: (Counterparts UK) Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar Steve Grocott (Ten) Electric Guitar Karen Fell: (Gary Hughes Band) Vocals Dan Mitchell: (Formerly of Ten) Electric Guitar John Power: (Counterparts UK) Bass and Fretless Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, & Violin Dann RosIngana: Electric Guitar Alan Taylor: (Nth Ascension) Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar Gavin Walker: (Nth Ascension) Bass Guitar Martin Walker: (Nth Ascension) Electric Guitar
From the very inception of the origins of the Earth, their have been two constant necessities to support life on Earth that being time and water. For Darrel Treece-Birch (keyboardist of TEN), to take the risk and creating a progressive conceptual album articulating this was a courageous move. Both time and water are mankind’s most precious resources. In his new conceptual album No More Time, Darrel Treece-Birch along with a all star line up try to convey this message both instrumentally and lyrically.
Darrel Treece-Birch’s No More Time takes you on a journey of emotions that both progressive rock purists and even hard rock, heavy metal and AOR purists have a little something they can enjoy on the album. With 15 tracks on the album Darrel Treece- Birch reflects a different perspective on the water we use on the Earth and how time also factors into our usage of this most precious resource. His all star line up has certainly done a great job embracing his vision on this album and conveying it to his targeted audience.
Starting with the first track Nexus Pt1 the album opens up with such a ambient backdrop with a spoken word narrative to set up the story that is about to be No More Time. Then the album smoothly segue’s into Earthbound.
Earthbound is a full instrumental that simulates a story of how water actually got to Earth to begin with. This is demonstrated with great atmospheric keyboards in harmony with atmospheric guitar solo’s throughout the track. This is followed by another instrumental track titled Riding The Waves.
Riding The Waves is a more up tempo track with more layered keyboards and guitars that are matched in unison with a solid and fluid rhythm section. This is also another instrumental on the album that requires a open and objective mind. Riding The Waves continues to paint the picture on the tapestry of the canvas mind of the listener. This sounds much like that of a film score soundtrack the way it is written. It is also ethereal in scope. This leads into the next track Hold On.
Hold On begins with a warm piano passage that is soon followed by a warm vocal melody. It appears almost as a ballad. The lyrical content takes a deep internal direction. It is as if a mentor is mentoring his student. It has many AOR hallmarks especially from AOR ballads past particularly in the 1980’s however with a modern sensibility. This is now followed by the next track on this epic journey Requiem Pro Caris.
Requiem Pro Caris is another warm piano intro driven track. It is as if the piano are simulating raindrops while the spoken word narrative continues with the journey. This leads into the next track Twilight.
Twilight is another beautifully crafted track that is very heavy on the piano. It gives the listener the effect that Darrel is in a small venue giving a show in a more intimate setting. He manages to do this both on the instrumental side and lyrical side. Deep piano tones and vocal tones are the backbone to this one. This leads into the next track Mother (Olive’s Song).
Mother (Olive’s Song) continues with the warm piano passages drawing the listener more and more inside the epic. The piano passage reflects that of a symphony solo passage in a old theater. Soon more modern keyboard atmospheres are layered upon the existing piano passages. This is also performed rather on the darker side. This is another of many instrumentals on the album. This leads beautifully into the next track Freedom Paradigm.
Freedom Paradigm begins with some up tempo percussion rhythm section. Soon this is followed up with a almost climatic heavy metal styled soundtrack. It is loaded with very powerful progressive metal fusion style solo’s throughout the entire instrumental track. This track gives the listener the appearance that the epic has reached a climax. This not before the next track Nexus Pt3 .
Nexus Pt.3 is another well crafted keyboard led passage that is perfectly complimented by a spoken word narrative. It is a little lighter for the listener to digest. This leads into the next track in the epic The River Dream.
The River Dream is a wonderful track that is a instrumental however is written in such away that the listener starts to reflect more and more on the overall epic journey of the concept rather than the individual tracks. The River Dream starts to allow the album to really come together and gel in the album as a collective. This leads right into the title track of the album No More Time.
No More Time begins with a warm melodic touch with warm vocals. Lyrically it appears there is a end of a era. The instrumental portion certainly matches this. The track takes a up tempo harder rock edge as if time is now moving forward. The harmonies are spot on. The harmony between the vocal and instrumental are full of emotion throughout the track. The guitar solo’s are much more AOR leaning, however the track remains on its objective. There are progressive time signatures within the solo’s giving this track a depth a fullness. This leads into the next track Legacy.
Legacy starts off with some lush atmospheric percussion and keyboard effects. The heavy guitar is not that far behind. This has a very Pink Floyd styled atmospheric vibe. All the instrumental pieces appear to running very balanced with one another. The instrumental works more like a vocal harmony telling a story all its own. This leads into Music of the Spheres.
Music of the Spheres opens up with a wonderful feminine touch to the album with a very present female vocal. The piano is warm yet haunting in its nature on this one. Lyrically this song questions many things in life. The track picks up somewhat at the 2:00 mark. The instrumental certainly matches the lyrical content on this one. This reaches the emotional apex of the epic journey of No More Time. There is also a neo progressive styled solo section towards the middle. This leads into the final track Return To The Nexus.
Return To The Nexus begins with a progressive electronic and ambient intro. Its atmospheres are almost in the vein of Peter Gabriel’s This Is The Picture (Excellent Birds) from his SO album. All the hallmarks of ambient, progressive, electronica and AOR from the album are present on this one. Return To The Nexus is written and arranged very appropriately to have all styles on the album present. Some of it even has a Kraftwerk influence behind it.
Darrel Treece – Birch has created a concept of grace and intimacy. No More Time is one of those albums that will certainly find a audience outside of the progressive rock community. This album is certainly among those albums that will continue the posterity of progressive music as a collective. I do see this album influencing future generations whether they be progressive, ambient or AOR music minded. This will get a 5/5 and have a place in my Top 10 of 2016.
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