SUBSIGNAL – LA MUERTE – GENTLE ART OF MUSIC
By Kev Rowland
Back with their fifth studio album, it has been a while since I last heard this German band that morphed out of Sieges Even, as there have been two other albums between this and 2011’s ‘Touchstones’. I would have classified their last album as solid neo-prog, but while I do think that classification is still the best place for this as a whole, there is much more crossover in what they are doing now. This has a lightness and deftness of touch to it, yet at the same time, there is a maturity and feeling of a band knowing exactly what they want to get across to the audience. Bringing in RPWL’s Yogi Lang and Kalle Wallner to undertake the production was a touch of genius, as that act has also been through a great deal of change as they have moved to adulthood, and together they have all combined here to show that there is a prog band that has very much come of age.
The current line-up, consisting of Markus Steffen (guitar), Arno Menses (vocals), Ralf Schwager (bass), Markus Maichel (keyboards) and Dirk Brand (drums), has remained unchanged for quite some time. Markus and Arno starting working together in Sieges Even before moving away, while Ralf (Dreamscape) and Dirk Brand (Axxis, Geoff Downes & John Wetton) also have strong reputations, but it is as this quintet that they are now becoming best known. The vocals soar, the melodies hit while the harmonies and musicianship are all that one would expect and want from a band like this.
The approach is far more song-based than before, and although they can hit hard when they want to (witness the keyboard-led melodic hard rock introduction to “Every Able Hand”), they are also content to lighten it up and let Arno take center stage. This is an incredibly accessible progressive rock album, one that brings the bands of the Nineties right up to date, and also not being afraid to use hints of the Seventies when the need is right, but all wrapped up in commercially acceptable radio-friendly songs that are a delight.