Fireworks

District 97 - 'In Vaults' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/d5/46/1a/District-97-In-Vaults-67-1445196612.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     October 18, 2015    
 
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A must for adventurous listeners everywhere.

Progressive in every sense of the word, Chicago's Female-Fronted District 97 are not the kind of band you'd expect to find an American Idol finalist in, but nevertheless this is their third album with singer Leslie Hunt and expands on the wonderful 'Trouble With Machines' in many areas.

Imagine, if you will, a mixture of King Crimson, Spock's Beard and Liquid Tension Experiment, then add in Judie Tzuke for the vocals and you'd be roughly in the same ball park. Making a bit of a name for themselves backing up John Wetton on his last U.S. tour has also done them no harm at all (check out the 2014 live album!), and the band have continued their own career by utilising the Kickstart pledge system to record this latest, and perhaps best, album thus far.

'Snow Country' is a particularly schizophrenic opener that's part ethereal ballad and part Prog Metal opus, with superb musicianship and truly original melodies – it needs a few listens but it soon sinks in. If anything the following 'Death By A Thousand Cuts' is even more out there; drummer Jonathan Schang, guitarist Jim Tashjian, keyboardist Rob Clearfield and bassist Patrick Mulcahy create the discordant staccato riffs and ensemble runs for Hunt to soar over.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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The unorthodox vocal lines and Jazzy organ solo of 'Handlebars' and the light and shade of the superb 'All's Well That Ends Well' are less heavy and maybe all the better for it, whilst the simpler structure of 'A Lottery' highlights the endearing fragility of Hunt's voice, albeit with a catchy instrumental workout in the middle.

Contemporary song-writing at its finest runs through the infectious 'On Paper' and the multi-textured 'Learn From Danny', with the wonderfully catchy Enchant-like 'Takeover' and the eleven minute 'Blinding Vision' also vying for top honours. The latter actually sounds like it's ending after a few minutes of string arrangements and plaintive vocals, only for the "closing" percussive flurry to herald another seven minutes of KC-influenced brilliance.

With a stunning production by the band with Chris Harden and mix by Spock's Beard/Transatlantic alumni Rich Mouser, District 97's music requires a bit of work on the listener's part. Hardly anything is immediate or goes where you expect it to, but if you're willing to make the effort the rewards are well worth it. 'In Vaults' is a must for adventurous listeners everywhere.

Phil Ashcroft

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