Rock Company 2018
British progressive metallurgists debut on a large scale – with no reason to cut it down.
Basing one’s work on literary sources can either mean the deficiency of own’s ideas or be a launchpad for imagination. In the case of this London band, it’s the latter, which makes their first album all the more appealing. As is customary for the group’s chose genre, it’s all very technical – often to the detriment of tunefulness – and some passages could have easily been left out of the picture to enhance its impact, yet when the quartet pursue a contrast in dynamic terms and focus on storytelling, they can’t fail to impress.
Still, there are surprise and logic to the record’s second part, with two epic compositions crossing the 20-minute mark, and the title track taking up half of the entire album: the pieces don’t waste a moment on filler, which is surprising, and provide ample space for the ensemble to flex their melodic muscle, which is logical. And vice versa, as opener “Marionette” feels fueled with futile rage, the sharpness of its riffs compromised by compressed sonics that limit singer Yordan Ivanov’s delivery, before they slow down the race to let Tom Hobson’s keyboards elevate “The Wind, The Sand, The Stars” to a well-staged aural spectacle where voices weave arresting melodies around the ever-shifting groove.
Once Drazic Lecutier’s guitars and Remi Jalabert’s drums engage in a tense dance, the spirit of adventure is firmly set in the overall scope, but if the expansive “Champions Of Light” should snap back to histrionic steamroller grind, there are lighter, art-rock moments in it, with piano and choral harmonies adding translucence to the intricate interplay. All these notions get swept away to make room for the quasi-symphonic uplift of “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” whose momentum would build from the preceding number’s majestic coda, and when it’s distilled to ivories and vocals, wonder reigns – given a stereo-busting shot of fusion and shredding. And then there’s “The Dark Tower” per se, redressing the balance between heavy bombast and warm balladry but also deploying the driest assault of all, followed, to a great orchestral effect, by folk- and classical-informed sections.
Beginning like this may burden artists with expectations, yet there’s no doubt the Londoners will rise to the challenge.