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Airbag - 'The Greatest Show On Earth' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/f1/fa/0c/cover-4761392013-r-37-1402967090.jpg Hot

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The songs are full of melody, sweeping themes and exquisite instrumental passages.

It's a huge privilege to review for Fireworks but there can be a downside, you can spend so much time on albums you're reviewing that you neglect those you're not. Such was the case with Airbag's second release ('All Rights Removed') which I acquired yet only got round to listening to it as background research for this review. I've been missing out and will be seeking out the debut ('Identity') as a matter of urgency.

Airbag come from Norway, so yet another band proving Scandinavia to be the current hotbed for Progressive Rock in all its guises. They started life as a Pink Floyd tribute band and when you hear the music you'll spot the connection. It may be a little too close for comfort but for me there's enough variety in their sound (think bits of Porcupine Tree, Anathema, Riverside, Believe, Frost*, Marillion and a soupçon of Dream Theater to name a few) not to make me feel they're riding on the coattails of other's fame. I'd suggest that this is what PF would have sounded like had they formed now.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Importantly, the songs are full of melody, sweeping themes and exquisite instrumental passages; in Asle Tostrup they have a vocalist who doesn't have an overly accented voice which, for me, can prove to be a distraction with non-native English speakers.
Bjørn Riis is a star on guitar with his lovely Gilmour-esque phrasing which lets the music breathe and keyboardist, Jørgen Grünner-Hagen embellishes with lush synths and Hammond Organ; their contributions certainly brought a smile to my face on more than one occasion.

The album is bookended by the three part 'Surveillance', the first instalment being a short but powerful instrumental that fades in before bursting into Rush-like riffing. The track melds wonderfully into 'Redemption' which for me shows the element Airbag have added to their sound with this album, aggression. Okay, it's not face-melting stuff but heavier than anything on the previous outing. PF it ain't, it's the modern end of the Prog spectrum. Parts two & three make for an epic closing, clocking in at just short of seventeen minutes. It's fabulous with light, shade, quiet and heavy passages making for a glorious whole.

'Silence Grows' does veer towards the PF style thanks to the wash of keyboards and strummed guitar; initially languid it erupts into a fantastic guitar solo half way through. The lengthy 'Call Me Back' develops nicely with lots going on but never sounding too complex. Again the guitar work is sensational with delicious keyboards underpinning delightfully.
The title track is seven minutes of deliciousness as it ticks every box for me in terms of melody, instrumentation and chorus. Tremendous!

Gary Marshall

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