Bassist extraordinaire and multi-instrumentalist Roberto Vitelli has a celebrated career, having played with the likes of The Roman Pro(g)ject, Taproban, The Samurai of Prog and B-Rain as well as fronting the seductive and critically acclaimed Ellesmere project of which this is the fourth and latest chapter. The latter project has had the benefit of being graced with some memorable guests in the past, names such as Dave Jackson (VdGG), Brett Kull (Echolyn), Keith More (Arena), Robert Berry, Trey Gunn (KC), David O’List (the Nice), Marco Bernard, Daniele Pomo (Ranestrane), Tomas Bodin, David Cross (KC), Tony Pagliuca (Le Orme) and Mattias Olsson (Anglagard) among a few others.  On this release, add the likes of Clive Nolan, Graeme Taylor (Gryphon) John Hackett, Riccardo Romano and most especially guitarist Giacomo Anselmi (Goblin Rebirth, Stefano Panunzi), and vocalist John Wilkinson from the Swan Chorus who are heavily featured throughout. In fact, there is a common vocal style on each track, by which the title is clearly referenced over and over, in pretty much the same overt manner, obviously planned to perfection. Very clever!

The adamant glacial blizzard of “Northwards” is undisputedly addictive, an opening track one could only hope for, which rather cleverly is emulated on the 6th and final epic track “Another World”, where the North Pole reference is repeated, for good measure! The lead vocals from Wilkinson have a strong Gabriel/Collins flavour, (what else is new), the guitar pyrotechnics from Anselmi are off the charts and Mattias plays the drums as if his life depended on it! Vitelli provides his usual Rickenbacker support as well as manning the keyboards, leaving Pendragon’s Clive Nolan to handle the intro. Blistering piece of powerhouse prog that has an undeniably glacial Viking frost to it, that is most appealing.

Maintaining the icy atmosphere, “Tundra” expertly emulates the frozen vastness of arctic landscapes, undulating drum variations, lumberjack rhythms galore, as well as a totally unexpected a capella harmony vocals section that will recall Gentle Giant meeting Yes at a microphone convention. The stage is also set for an icicle melting lead guitar workout from Anselmi.

Majestic acoustic guitars usher in “Crystallized”, played by Gryphon’s Graeme Taylor, transitioning into a powerful scheme with Dave Jackson’s patented sax digging up the permafrost with impunity, as Olsson pummels his kit with measured abandon. An instrumental showcase that packs a wallop.

Keeping the frigid snow bound theme, “Arctica” hustles and bustles like an icebreaker carving ahead, cracking up immense shards of blue ice. The guitars shiver, the frosty keys howl in the wind and the voice continues its pleading repetition of the title. Bombastic, complex, thunderous, and relentless.

Two epic pieces to finish off, the stunning title track, clocked at over a dozen minutes. As the bells toll, the churchy organ commands the lament, like a sea shanty for those who brave the cold seas with salty courage. Synths bubble as Bob Hodges lays down some dense notes, whilst being challenged by an obsessive flute courtesy of the other Hackett. All instrumentalists get the green light to stretch out their insertions, as Wilkinson provides celestial vocal anointments that clear out the stranger skies. Unsurprisingly, Olsson does a bang-up job on the drums as the flute dances in between the polyrhythmic fills. Riccardo Romano’s acoustic 6 and 12 string work unites with a grandiose flute passage and a smooth vocal outro.

With a running time of under 12 minutes, “Another World” is a rampaging bulldozer unleashed, fizzy guitar electricity, pompous keyboard elevations, a brooding bass shuffle and those masterful thudding beats. Toss in some more virtuoso sax from the VdGG-man and all that is left is for John Wilkinson to highlight the title “Another World” with a variation of the “Northwards” chorus. The obvious allusion to the North Pole only proves the astute case convincingly. The extended Giacomo Anselmi fretboard flirtations are dangerously insane, surely seduced by the sexy sax bursts and the dense interplay, which includes a fabulous Tomas Bodin outro to finish off this album in style, adding a jazzy piano element that is sheer genius. The children play, giggling in rapt enjoyment. Another World indeed.

Another fine chapter in the Ellesmere canon. Certainly, most worthy of pleasing fans of both the symphonic and neo styles, as the playing is truly top-notch. The usual fantastic cover artwork continues to inspire.

4.5 Intriguing Paradises