First set of applause: Love that band name, so original! Mind you, it could have been M-elk Away the Ice, Bullwinkle’s Rock or Caribou-ya! Based in Coventry, this quintet decided to launch their debut album after 11 years of toiling, crafting their sound, and ready to conquer the music world. Second barrage of clappies: a dynamite powerhouse female lead vocalist from London named Sheridan White, who will astound, amaze, and ultimately seduce anyone within earshot, as well as a clever guitarist/keyboardist in Joel Julian, who instills a progressive music slant (aka very open-minded stylistically) to the entire proceedings, with subtle aromas of past great forgers of eclectic sound that will be easy to identify. He is seconded on guitars by James Nicholson, and as a tandem, they add a wall of crunchy guitars that raise eyebrows. The sparkling rhythm section of bassist and future lawyer Rich Taylor and Kevin Button, the bespectacled man behind the drum kit not only hold their own, but they actually are also a major sound propellant that would give jet fuel, kerosene, and perhaps even a nuclear core a serious challenge, without the fallout pollution and fossil controversy.
Finally, a third ovation for the menu: Progressive is not just fiery mellotrons, blazing synthesizer slivers, swerving transitions, moody atmospheres, and deep lyrics, it can also mean a step-by-step journey that starts off here at the rock station and arrives there, near the prog terminal, with various elevations along the way. The brief “Prelude” gives way to the scorching rocker “Listen”, begging the audience to pay attention to what is going to happen, as Sheridan cajoles that microphone, setting the standard with splendid control, forceful modulation, shrewd variety, and endless power. The band is there to provide the platform and the beaming spotlight is rightfully aimed at proving one point: this girl can sing like the wind! Great tune by any measuring stick. The throttling “Pieces” has a reptilian bass furrow that pulsates with authority, the scratchy guitars exchanging riffs and Button bashing adroitly, as Sheridan ominously warns: ‘The pieces will come together’. Yes, it will, dear! Superbly entertaining!
Change of shift into a next level with three great songs, as shimmering keys introduce “Trust in You”, a sultry belter that flutters from shivering serenity to raw supremacy, led by a voice that convinces with each note, and a crew that builds up a sonic intensity with some sizzling guitar interplay. At one point, I felt I was listening to vintage early Heart (Barracuda and Crazy on You), which is one hell of a compliment especially when delivered with so much obvious gusto! Keeping that feel going with the tortuously twisting and vocally taxing “Solid Ground”, Sheridan consolidates her technique with an exquisite display. In the second section, where the arrangement gets hot and sweaty, bound together with solidly grounded grooves that recall Blue Oyster Cult, replete with a slimy synth solo and a Buck Dharma-like bluesy rant on the fretboard. “You Are Always with Me” could be a ballad full of sweetness and ceremony but the rushing guitars enjoy pushing the envelope most convincingly.
As a reaction to the opener “Listen”, the unrelenting “Do You Hear Me” shatters the ear drums with storming guitars à la early U2, but the prize is reached when Sheridan vocalizes into the stratosphere, in a tone recalling the classic Babe Ruth song “the Mexican” with a lady called Jennie Haan, whose voice may be a close cousin. This also serves as the perfect initiation to a more progressive rock realm on the staggering “Archaeologist”, a powerhouse 6-and-a-half-minute tour de force that showcases all the attributes this squad can offer; there is a barely disguised nod to Led Zeppelin, evident in the meaty guitar/drum interplay that was the hall mark feature of that legendary band. Sheridan has even the audacity to do a scat section, followed by a wicked guitar solo and some poignant bass guitar punctuation.
Okay, enough with all this rock nonsense, lets get into the real core of this album: the 2 equal parts Title track, for a total of 14 minutes of proggy ecstasy. Here Joel’s influences come to the fore front, where restraint, pace, foundation, and mood take precedence over anything else. The first part is “Fire” and at times sulfurous and volcanic as well as veering to steamy and vaporous, as if Annie Haslam had decided to offer her heavenly influence. But when things heat up, they sizzle. Fiery guitars and churning organ will always do the trick. Absolutely fantastic slice of music. “Rain” on the other hand, kicks off with a shimmering e-piano, Sheridan’s gently soothing wail, a serene beat emulating the falling droplets. I really enjoyed this softer, more subtle version of the band, especially as the mood keeps approaching deeper emotions and the passion still effortlessly oozes out. The buildup with choir raises the roof, a honky tonk guitar solo is not only unexpected but also thrillingly played. An ornate goodnight piano seals the deal. What a ride!
The bass propelled bruiser “Running” comes across as an encore-like favour, a slap in the face rocker that brings the house down with rousing applause. As far as a debut album is concerned, this is a real winner, full of entertaining content and solid arrangements. I believe the tracks were created in chronological order, which if true bodes very well for the future as all the tracks from “Do You Hear Me” onward are distinctly more developed melodically and wall-of sound effects are off the charts as well as the rhythm section really pumping hard. In my opinion, if the progression continues into more elaborate arrangements, this band could become a huge success, mainly because in Sheridan White, they have a hyper talented vocalist that can slay many a dragon, making the musician knights’ lives way easier. To be followed intently.
4 traveling progressions