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Believe - 2009 - "This Bread Is Mine"

(59.19, Metal Mind Records)


*****+
                 
TRACK LIST:                   

1.  The Years 2.14 
2.  Tales From Under the Tree 7.34
3.  Mother 4.22 
4.  And All the Roads 8.15 
5.  Darkness 5.53 
6.  Problems Rise 6.04 
7.  Aa 4.31
8.  This Bread Is Mine 7.39 
9.  This Is Life 4.08
10. Mine 4.42 
11. Silence 3.57

LINEUP:

Karol Wroblewski – vocals; flute; keyboards
Mirek Gil – guitars 
Przemas Zawadzki – bass  
Vlodi Tafel – drums 
Satomi – violin 

Prolusion. Hailing from Poland, BELIEVE is a project by former Collage and Satellite guitarist Mirek Gil. The band, a six-piece which includes Japanese violinist Satomi, released its debut album, “Hope to See another Day” in 2005. A show mainly based on this album was recorded on DVD and released in 2008, just after their second album, “Yesterday Is a Friend”. “This Bread Is Mine” is their third full-length album, recorded with new vocalist Karol Wroblewski.

Analysis. Being very much of a Believe novice, “This Bread Is Mine” surprised me, and in a thoroughly positive way. In my view, too many of the bands generally tagged as Neo-Prog rely on keyboard parts sounding either cheesy or too much like Genesis for comfort, smooth but ultimately uninvolving vocals, and catchy choruses that spell ‘mainstream’ to dedicated followers of genuinely progressive rock. Originality is often at a premium, even if the outer packaging, so to speak, is flawless. Believe, however, are part of a ‘movement’ that is going to strength – Polish Neo-Prog, represented by bands like Collage and Satellite. Believe, created by Marek Gil, former guitarist with both these bands, not only follows in their footsteps, but – with an approach that blends melody and accessibility with harder-edged sensibilities – at times even suggests one of the most successful Polish contributions to the world of progressive rock, the mighty Riverside. Like Mariusz Duda’s band, they privilege the building of gentle, moody atmospheres that can subtly (or even not so subtly) shift into something harsher and edgier, sometimes introducing psychedelic reminiscences into the equation. However, unlike Riverside, they employ instruments, like the flute and the violin, which are quite rare in progressive metal circles, and add interest value and melodic flair to a compositional structure which (perhaps surprisingly) is dominated more by the guitar than the keyboards. Prior to the release of “This Bread Is Mine”, Believe changed vocalists – an often hazardous move for any band. Not having heard their previous one, Tomek Rozycki, I am not in a position to judge. However, new boy Karel Wroblewski (who had guested on flute on the band’s previous album, “Yesterday Is a Friend”) does a more than adequate job, and I would even go so far as to state that his performance is one of the strong points of an album that is very distinctly vocal-oriented. His confident, expressive and consistently well-pitched voice is capable of shifting from melodic smoothness to aggression (he even sounds positively angry on Darkness, one of the heaviest offerings here) He is also responsible for keyboards, which on this albums are used more to beef up the sound than as protagonists. The 7-minute-plus Tales Under a Tree, which is introduced by a short, mainly acoustic number, The Years, almost perfectly represents the strengths of this album. Indeed, it seems to combine Believe’s melodic soul – embodied by Satomi’s wistful violin runs and Wroblewski’s flute inserts – with the energy and aggression of distorted guitar chords and riffs and brisk drumming. The somber, subdued mood of the central part of the song climaxes in a beautiful, clean-sounding guitar solo very much in the Gilmour/Latimer mould. While the two following songs, Mother and And All the Roads, see the band follow a more standard Neo pattern, though in a very classy manner, the above-mentioned Darkness and the title-track display edgier, more diverse features. Brooding and ominous, as the title implies, the former revolves around occasionally harsh riffing, tempered by some folksy violin strains and an atmospheric, echo-laden guitar solo; while the latter offers some spacey moments at the beginning, and a passionate vocal performance paralleled by the intensity of the other instruments – particularly evident in the almost manic closing section, powered by guitar and violin sounding much more strident and dissonant than usual. Though “This Bread Is Mine” starts out very strongly, it somehow loses steam towards the end, with the last three numbers a notch below the overall level of the album, and a vague feeling of deja-vu sneaking in. For today’s standards, the album is not overlong, clocking in at just slightly under an hour – yet, it is not easy to dispel the impression that there is some padding involved. This, however, does not mar the general impression of a solid release from one of the most promising bands on the thriving Polish progressive rock scene.

Conclusion. “This Bread Is Mine” is an engaging, well-crafted album by a band known for the consistently high level of its output. Though somewhat monotonous at times, it is performed and sung with skill and emotion, and will provide a lot of listening pleasure to fans of all but the most offbeat varieties of progressive rock.

RB=Raffaella Berry: April 15, 2010
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Metal Mind Records
Believe


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