Fireworks

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nth λscension - 'Frequencies Of Day And Night' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/6f/5a/23/2391_nthascensionfrequenciesofdayandnight_1340294273.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 21, 2012    
 
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Bodes well for the band, albeit with one significant reservation.

From the CD label and booklet it’s clear that this album is a self-financed and produced affair. Usually this suggests the quality of the music on offer will be rather dubious, however given the limitations of budget I have to say that what you hear is extremely laudable and bodes well for the band; albeit with one significant reservation. From the outset I was pleasantly surprised by the vibrancy and clarity of the instrumentation and by the fine melodies being presented; it was only when the vocals of Michael Alan Taylor (he also contributes bass) made an appearance that question marks began to arise. He’s not particularly bad but it’s one of those voices that will be an acquired taste, rather like Marmite, as it comes across as someone who’s not a natural at the job doing their best to fill a gap in the band’s armoury.

I found myself wondering how these splendid songs would sound with a top quality singer; consequently it’s the instrumental tracks and passages that constitute the album’s highlights. The album opens with the instrumental ‘The Prize’ and it’s immediately obvious that they have a keen ear for a melody and that Darrel Treece-Birch (keyboards), Martin Walker (guitars) and drummer Craig Walker have undoubted ability. All three shine with the latter coming across like an amalgam of Neal Peart (Rush) and the ubiquitous Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater etc.). The drums do sound a little thin at times but the runs and fills are an absolute delight.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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‘The Prize’ lays down the marker for what follows with lush keys and a nice riffing guitars which at various times bring Rush, Fish-era Marillion and ‘Lamb’ era Genesis to mind. The guitar solo is nicely melodic which remains true across the entire album. This track leads directly into ‘Out Of The Fire’ and the first encounter with those vocals. The intro is pure mid-period Rush that morphs into a fine riff. A sudden change of tempo is well executed and provides a nice shift in emphasis with the use of electric piano being a winning move. ‘Running to Nowhere’ features more super guitar and some epic synthesiser work as the album’s shortest track fairly flashes past on huge energy. ‘Sound To Light’ is one of the album’s Prog epics and starts like Marillion circa ‘Misplaced Childhood’ and features the best vocal performance on the album. More superb synth playing gives a Pink Floyd (PF) flavour before the tempo rises into Rush territory again before reverting to PF style later. ‘Return of the King’ is another quality instrumental with its Wakeman-esque keyboards while the second epic, ‘The Cage’ is held back by the vocals and it’s only after nearly seven minutes that the piece comes alive thanks to the instrumental prowess coming to the fore. Instrumental ‘AI (Ghost in the Machine)’ closes the album and the ‘Duke’ era sequencing works rather well as the David Gilmour style guitar.

Gary Marshall

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