Reviews August 2007
Tracklisting:Father & Son; Promises; The garden; Where the Rain falls; Crossing over; The Line; World of Things; The other Side; How much more than a Dream; The Altar of Love; Why; Out of the Rain.
Norwegian quartet P:O:B has finally made a full lenght album - and released on their own Fish Farm Records label. The rockers from Haugesund has already made two EP's - the band has shortened the moniker down to the more "digestable" P:O:B and included producer/drummer/engineer Daniel Flores (Minds Eye, Xsavior, Novak) in the final mixing of the album, also contributing drums on several tracks.
P:O:B consists of the talents of Johannes Støle on vocals, keyboards, pipe organ, percussion and programming, Thorfinn Sirness on guitars and programming and Rudolf fredly - and drummer Harald Levang on drums. Guests on the album are (as already mentioned) Daniel Flores on drums, Daniel Palmqvist, Paul Hansen on vocals, Thomas Nilsson on cello and Kjetil Lundø on double bass.
The album kickstarts with the dark progressive “Father & Son” which really starts the unique style and sound of the band mixing modern grooves and rhythms with classic rock/metal/prog like Queensrÿche, Black Sabbath, Dream Theater and even Toto as stated in the following press material. The magnificent use of heavy drums acid drumming, jazzy riffs and harder melodic solos on organ and guitar is absolute ear candy. Johannes Støles's voice is highptched without ripping the paint from the wall - though melodic and powerful! Great. There are several memorable tracks on the album - my favorite must be the instrumental "The Line" and the melodic "The other Side" which has a magnificent solo and a great melodic tune - don't miss the hard outro. But also the more mellow “How Much More Than a Dream” leaves vocalist Johannes Støle alone with his piano. And the epic “The Altar of Love”, that would be my first choise for an single;-). The track that covers the stunning variety of the bands talent is “Out of the Rain”, which starts out in almost acustic Kansas-style (Dust in the Wind) soon to be supported by modern rhythms and heavy guitar riffing and impressive vocals. Conceptual and great as their ispiration sources!
All in all this must be one of the most impressive progressive debuts ever. P:O:B has with the album “Crossing Over” made a new standard for Scandinavian melodic progressive hard rock/metal. I love their varied song - they are not that varied that you're losing the breath, the musicianship is outstanding and always keeps the songs melodic - Flores' mixing and mastering is top of the pop! Give these Norwegian guys a record contract, now, please;-)
Tracklisting:Without you; Evil Combination; Take these Tears; Don't let it slip away; No peace for the Wicked; Long Way to Heaven; Wild in the City; Gentle Touch; Prisoner of Shame; New Messiah; Over the Ocean; Love in Vain.
David Readman has found a "new home" on Frontiers records - with both Pink Cream 69 and now a solo effort to put in the ring. Where PC69's latest CD "In10sity" where as strong as rocky as always Readman allows himself to also go on the more moody roads on this brilliant album.
Readman has been more focused the later years - in the past recording albums with Adagio, Andersen/Laine/Readman, Misssa Mercuria (rock opera) but now focusing on his own musical career, on Sing Like a Rockstar and of course PC69. On this his first solo CD - he has joined forces with PC69-team mates producer Dennis Ward and guitarist Uwe Reitenauer - but otherwise he has included guitarist Alex Beyrodt (SILENT FORCE), bass player Paul Logue (EDEN’S CURSE) , Dirk Bruinenberg (ELEGY) on drums, Eric Ragno (ex-TAKARA) on keyboards, Tommy Denander (YES!), Chris Schmidt on drums and Gunter Werno (VANDENPLAS) on keyboads. The album was recorded in two phases, one prior and one after the "In10sity" recordings. And of course the musical style and outlet is in the vein of Readman's prior releases - a little more diverse perhaps, including some country and westcoast undertones. A semi-acustic track like "Over the Ocean" is a state of the art country song and i absolutely adore the hammond section in the middle;-)
On the album there a a lot of memorable tracks - hard to mention one and excluding another - but tunes like "No Peace For The Wicked", "Evil Combination", "Wild In The City", "Prisoner Of Shame" and "New Messiah" will suit like a glove if you like PC 69. Where songs like "Without You", "Don’t Let It Slip Away" (first video clip), "Long Way To Heaven", "Gentle Touch", "Over The Ocean" and "Love In Vain" will stir it up bit - doing something else than expected. The latter being the perfect ballad!!! Big and pompous.
"I am very happy with the record", the British singer recently stated. "It was a big deal for me — a real learning curve. I’m also interested to hear what the people have to say about it; I’m very inpatient". So in fact i like the record very much due to its ability to confirm my expectations AND on the other hand bring some new facets to my view on David Readman. I'm a devoted fan of the voice of Readman - and combined with the musical tour de force by all the particapants and Wards superb production this record will be one of favorites this year!
Tracklisting:Room 316; Friends forever; Coming of Age; Incident at Haldeman's Lake (I: Blades of Denial, II: Nex per Res, III: Breath of Life); Reflections pt. 1; I promise you; Consummation Opus; Truth and Tragedy; Shattered Dreams; Viper; Betrayed by Love; Turning Point; Revelation.
Amaran's Plight is a progressive supergroup in the true and original essence of the word...! Amaran's Plight has been united under the Prog Rock Records label and features the talents of multiinstrumentalist Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery), super vocalist D.C. Cooper (Royal Hunt, Silent Force), drummer Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard, Tears for Fears, Genesis), and finally Kurt Barabas (Under the Sun) on bass. Michael Saddler gives a guest appearance on two songs, additional vocals by Trishia O’Keefe and Prog Rock Records' main man Shawn Gordon finishes off with a few keyboard solo's.
But the whole album - concept, writing the lyrics, designing the albums booklet and supervising the musical proces and executive producer is the 5th member John Crawford.
"Voice in the Light" tells the story of a man who had a near death experience as a teenager during which he receives a message from the 'other side' and these events shape the rest of his turbulent life. Though his life is tubulent, tragic and often chaotic, he begins to put the pieces of the puzzle together which ultimately ends in him making several difficult decisions. However his final decision turns out to be a miraculous, supernatural twist of fate that will change the world forever! It's a long, well-developed story, based on a Crawford novel.
D.C.Cooper has always been one of my favorite singers - i remeber seing him in Hamburg with Royal Hunt back in 1996 - and he is the very definition of a frontman. "Voice in the Light" wouldn't be the same without his powerful and opera trained voice which really gives the performance a lot of emotion and authensity - like in a good movie, you will be swallowed by the story and perfomance.
Besides the magnificent vocal effort, i have to mention the work of Gary Wehrkamp. His excellent equilibristic fretwork is absolutely breathtaking. But his work on the keyboard is great, too - he sometimes battles with himself keyboard/guitar. But also the dynamic bass lines from Barabas is excellent not to forget the impressive drumming by D'Virgillio (how many hands is attached to this guy?). The whole album streches itself from jazzy tones on "Shattered Dreams" to almost AOR-ish lines "Reflections pt. 1" over speedy metal on the "Viper" intro.
I think Amaran's Plight has made a little classic here with " Voice in the Light" everything is well composed and thought through from start to end - the music, the concept, the musicians, the lyrics and the perfomance. It's really the best of everything, so if you are into progressive conceptual albums with both cake and the icing on the top this album is right up your street! Buy or die...