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TRACK LIST: 1. Forward Facing 5:05 2. Calibrate 4:16 3. The Study of Madness 6:44 4. Backwards Man 1:33 5. Smoke at the Mirror 4:08 6. Wake Cycle 4:02 7. Revise 4:00 8. Spurs 4:24 9. Severed Ties 4:34 10. Corridor 1:24 11. Pacific Time 3:58 12. Downtown Core 8:58 13. Silence and Sound 4:04 LINEUP: Nick Karch – vocals; guitars, banjo; keyboards Mat Keselman – drums; vocals; keyboards Daniel Avner – bass; vocals
Prolusion. The Canadian trio BOLUS was formed ten years ago. They have three albums to their name so far, as well as a remastered and reissued version of their 2005 debut album as part of their discography. "Triangulate" is their most recent studio production, and was self-released by Bolus in 2013.
Analysis. Bolus was something of a surprise addition to the 2013 edition of the US prog festival ROSfest, and one that got a hearty reception by the audience there. Until this year primarily regarded as a band exploring more of a neo-progressive inspired sound, although that perception will change once their new album "Triangulate" has been given a check, I surmise. The chosen field of this Canadian trio is one that resides on the outskirts of the progressive rock universe, however. They are fond of enticing, accessible melodies and harmonic oriented arrangements in general, explored in fairly brief compositions within a conventional structural framework revolving around the verse, chorus, instrumental mid-section and chorus variety. With a few detours thrown in for good measure of course, as progressive rock bands tend to do by default. Carefully controlled melodic lead vocals are a trademark feature of Bolus, nicely supplemented by smooth layered vocal harmonies when needed. All of the band members appear to be skilled vocalists, and lead vocalist Nick Karch most of all. Good vocals will always elevate a song, and on this occasion this is the case for the album overall. Karch can add some bite to his delivery when needed too, a rarely and well utilized dramatic detail. The instrument-based parts of their compositions are a tad more challenging to describe, as there's a fair bit going on here despite Bolus opting for a fairly accessible style of music. The verse parts of the songs tend to be gentle, careful and melodic, with carefully wandering light toned guitars or light, elegant compact riffs as the main feature. The former closer to bands like Coldplay or the most accessible variety of late 80's Rush in construction, the latter closer to the harder edged material from the latter of these possible associations. Occasionally flavored with smooth, atmospheric keyboard textures that add a certain Porcupine Tree presence to the proceedings. The chorus and instrumental movements are generally somewhat more dramatic, with a harder edged variety of the aforementioned light toned staccato riffs ranging from melodic Rush style to a more frantic delivery closer to the likes of The Mars Volta. Again with a third variety sporting a more cinematic and occasionally darker and dramatic edge to it that is closer to bands like Porcupine Tree. Add some occasional Pink Floydian-tinged guitar solo details, and I suspect most bases have been covered as far as my associations go for this trio. While this blend of music might come off as somewhat bland in the wrong hands, Bolus makes this amalgam work by skilled employment of sophisticated instrument details and a cleverly assembled mix of enticing harmonic and more dramatic and tension-inducing arrangements. Perhaps not an album that will draw a universal appeal, but those fond of well made, produced and performed accessible progressive rock will find plenty to enjoy on this disc.
Conclusion. The Canadian trio Bolus explores a melodic and accessible variety of progressive rock on their third album "Triangulate", managing to blend harmonic and dramatic details in a fine balance and flavoring the proceedings quite nicely and liberally with atmospheric sounds and textures. Fans of late 80's Rush and Porcupine Tree strike me as a key audience on this occasion, and especially those among them also fond of occasional mainstream oriented exploits of bands like Coldplay as well as the somewhat more intense and dramatic excursions of bands like The Mars Volta.
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