CD Reviews

Ulysses - 'The Gift Of Tears' Hot

Added by James Gaden     April 08, 2010    
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Third album from the Dutch rockers.


I’d not heard of this Dutch band prior to receiving this CD, although this is their third album following ‘Eclectic’ in 2001 and ‘Symbioses’ two years later. In the six years between releases they have changed personnel with Michael Hos (vocals) and Casper Kroon (bass) joining original band members, Sylvester Vogelenzang de Jong (guitars), Ron Mozer (keyboards) and Rene van Haaren (drums).

There is plenty to commend this album, not least the song structures, the huge guitar riffs and the myriad keyboards, but ultimately it falls just short because the production is lacking, particularly on the drums and vocals; on the latter I have to warn you that Hos displays an accent from time to time. It’s not always evident and tends to show through on the slower passages as with the track ‘Lost’, which otherwise is delightful with a lovely piano refrain.

The more I listened to this album the more I kept thinking how good it could be with a top quality remix. They remind me of Presto Ballet in that they employ a number of classic (i.e. retro) keyboard sounds and allow the keyboards numerous solos, all of which are utterly splendid. Like Presto Ballet the sound is underpinned by Hammond Organ that gives a rich tone to proceedings.

Overall I’d place this in the Melodic Prog genre, albeit with a Metal edge from time to time with ‘How Much More’ being a fine example. Lovely crunchy guitars open up and then a synth refrain joins before a swathe of orchestral synths adds to the picture and another synth picks up the lead. Such is this opening section that you think it might be an instrumental. It’s a fine track and could have been sensational but the vocal harmonies aren’t precise enough. A quiet section in the middle is brought to an abrupt end when the guitars thunder back in. At 12 minutes it’s the second longest on the album, the longest being the closing number, ‘Anat’, which is a finely crafted song that runs through various styles, but is spoiled by some ranting vocals in the middle.

If this was a School report the comment would probably read “shows promise but could do better”. Good, but no cigar.

Gary Marshall


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