As you can see above, there is only one original Cobweb Strange member in the line-up for this album: the founder of the band and the main mastermind behind it, Wade Summerlin. Unlike both of the previous albums by the band, and especially their debut, "A Breath of October" is free from any obvious influences at all. Furthermore, even the sound of this album differs from that on any of its predecessors and that quite radically. Although the new Cobweb Strange ProGduction is not of a unified stylistic concept, there is a unique feature that unites almost all of the songs that are present here (the only exception being track 3, to which I'll return a bit later). And the name of a feature that "October" just breathes with, is a mysterious atmosphere. There are no instrumentals on this album, while two out of the eight songs that are presented here are ballads: The Empty Shell (3) and With Evening Falling (8). The first of them is the only simple song on the album. It features only the rhythms of acoustic guitars and the vocals that, while being tasteful and of a dramatic character, represent just the alternation of couplets and refrains. Another ballad (8) is a little masterpiece. Instead of rhythms, it consists of passages of acoustic guitar and has that mysterious feel to it, which is one of the central hallmarks of this album, even though the vocal part is very brief here. Also, it's really hard to imagine any other song on track 8, and not With Evening Falling, which, IMHO, is a really great ending for this album. It needs to be said that the parts of vocals are excellent and highly original (mysterious!) on most of the songs here. Though, on average, they cover no more than about one third of the CD's playing space. Which, above all, is because there are only a few of the vocal parts on the longest track on the album, Pure. Giant and Tea For the Sleepless (2 & 4) are excellent songs of the Classic Art-Rock genre and feature all the possible progressive ingredients. However, the winners on this album are The Drowning Pulse of the Cold Green Sea, Pure, Currents of Nightshade, and On With the Show (1, 5, 6, & 7). (Though With Evening Falling (8), described above, I like very much as well.) Three of them (1, 5, 7) are the most complex, diverse, and intriguing compositions on "A Breath of October". But while the arrangements on Currents of Nightshade aren't as intricate as those that are featured on the songs that I've just talked about, it is just filled with wonderful flavors of the music of the East and is marked with signs of a real musical magic. As well as the album's opening track, Giant, and Tea For the Sleepless, Currents of Nightshade is the work of the Art-Rock genre. While Pure and On With the Show are about a blend of Symphonic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal. Well, finally, on keyboards: Although the parts of synthesizer, organ, and piano play mainly a supporting role on the new Cobweb Strange album, their presence is more than merely justified: new CD - new sound! You will be amazed with that highly specific atmosphere, which reigns over this album.
First: I'd like to note that the second half of the album is overall much stronger than the first one where only The Drowning Pulse of the Cold Green Sea is a real masterwork. Second: although "A Breath of October" is overall more than merely an excellent album, I can't rate it as a complete masterpiece. Third: on the other hand, it's clear to me that the new Cobweb Strange album is in some ways (at least) better than its predecessor. In that way, I am forced to deprive the "Sounds From the Gathering" album of a half of the rating star. Which, though, shouldn't confuse you dear readers. I recommend you both of the band's latest albums. From any of them, you'll get positive, yet, different impressions. Please note this.
VM: December 22, 2002
Cobweb Strange: http://www.cobwebstrange.com/