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(61:33, Metal Mind Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Time 6:18 2. Tumor 6:03 3. What They Want Is My Life 8:01 4. Mystery Is Closer 6:00 5. You & Me 4:51 6. Danny Had a Neighbour 5:17 7. Memories 7:22 8. Unfaithful 6:14 9. Together 2:35 LINEUP: Mirek Gil Ц guitars Vlodi Tafel Ц drums Przemas Zawadski Ц bass Tomek Rozycki Ц vocals Satomi Ц violin With: Adam Milosz Ц keyboards Karol Wroblewski Ц flute
Prolusion. In the last few years many Polish bands have made a great impact in the world of progressive rock, to the extent that some talk about Polish progressive rock in terms of a specific wave Ц or even a particular style Ц of music. Whether one supports that notion or not, there's no denying that a number of high-quality acts from Poland have been "discovered" by music fans in Western Europe and the US in the last few years. BELIEVE is among the most critically acclaimed of these bands. They formed in 2005, and released a highly praised debut album (УHope to See Another DayФ) the following year, quickly establishing for themselves a reputation as a quality act. "Yesterday Is a Friend" is their follow-up, released in 2008 by Metal Mind Productions.
Analysis. There's a certain atmosphere many Polish acts create that is highly compelling. The focus on melodies and atmospheres, the guitar solos seemingly filled with melancholy and emotion, the clean, slick yet highly expressive vocals utilized by many bands, and a certain element that isn't really tangible Ц a sound or an atmosphere that is hard to describe. There is something special about many of these recently formed Polish bands that make an impact on many listeners; some elements in their compositions that really make them sound like no other bands around. The guitar work of Mirek Gil is probably the most important element in the compositions on this release. The guitar solos will be the aspect that makes most of an impact for the general listener, I suspect; atmospheric, emotional and at times soaring guitar solos. They're not given a dominant role in these tunes for obvious reasons; the violin is the main solo instrument in this band, but the sound of those guitar solos is something really special. When listening closer to these songs, the most intriguing aspect of the compositions is the high degree of variation demonstrated by the guitar here. Believe likes to open their tunes with an acoustic guitar based melodic theme, and then the composition evolves as instruments are added and the song develops. Dark, drawn out distorted guitar chords and quirky riff patterns are elements added in most of these tunes alongside the acoustic guitar, but in many cases placed a bit back in the mix. When utilized, these chords and riff patterns are often used to enhance the texture of the song, but are also given a more dominating role in many segments. The violin is used extensively on all songs on this release, adding atmospheric layers to the verses and melodic bursts to build tension to segments in the song, and soaring and at times haunting soloing. Periodically it will harmonize with the guitar work, creating layered melodic passages of great beauty; at other times it will fulfill the same role towards the keyboards, but just as often the violin is used to contrast with other instruments or the general mood of the song, the light element contrasting with a darker one. Careful and intelligent use of keyboards softens the atmospheres on these songs, and the piano is utilized to strengthen the melody when it is used. Skilled drum-work, ranging from careful percussion elements to driving, tribal drum patterns, and just as skilled bass guitar playing form a firm foundation for these compositions, and Tomek Rozycki has a good and expressive voice. Lots could have been written on each of these aspects of the songs on "Yesterday Is a Friend" too Ц the musicianship is high quality all around, and all the instruments are given major roles in the compositions at one time or another. The violin and the guitar are the most striking features as I see it, hence the focus on these. In addition to the musicianship and the well-crafted atmospheres created, the compositions in themselves are a strength in their own right on this release. Multiple layered melody lines are the norm rather than the exception, and many of the songs evolve in surprising manners. There are an abundance of nuances and details to be discovered; this is one of those albums where you'll find one or more additional details in the tunes each time you listen to them for quite a long time. For me personally there's one element that doesn't make me hand out a top score for this release: There's a bit too much change going on, even if compelling and fascinating overall, and there's also a slight lack of cohesion in a few of these compositions. The soundscapes are intriguing, the moods and atmospheres are strong, but at times I feel like I'm listening to fascinating segments put together to form a tune rather than an integrated composition as such. As this is a complex piece of work with a large number of details to get familiar with, I suspect that this is a release that may grow on me in time though; this is one of those releases that in an ideal world should have been explored for a month or two prior to making an assessment.
Conclusion. Fans of melodic progressive rock should have a field day with this release, in particular those already existing fans of Believe and other recent Polish progressive rock acts. The focus on mood, atmosphere and melody should appeal to most fans of neo-progressive rock as well, and I would think that for many of them this will be regarded as one of the best releases of 2008.
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