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The Colossus of Rhodes - 2004 - "The 7th Progressive Rock Wonder"

(155 min 2CD, Musea)


******

Prolusion. The Finnish Prog Rock society Colossus's passion for the creation of Italian director Sergio Leone is boundless, and even its name was derived from the maestro's historical movie, "The Colossus of Rhodes", which also became the foundation for their new project. Well, I am also a fan. In any case, the society's progressive activity is beyond praise. Here are the reviews of their previous projects: "Kalevala", "The Spaghetti Epic". Co-produced by Musea Records, as ever.

Disc I (78 min) - "Primo Tempo"
******

TRACK LIST:

1.  A Thought Is Always Free 26:34 (Leviathan) ****1/2
2.  The Secret Passage 27:13 (Greenwall) ******!
3.  God of Silence 23:14 (Sinkadus) ******

Analysis. Like in the case of "The Spaghetti Epic", this double CD album is made up of six long tracks that six contemporary Progressive Rock units created especially for it. Each of the tracks is epic in character and is a suite, i.e. a polymorphous, multi-layered composition with several different thematic sections etc. By the quality of composition, however, not all of them correspond to my conception of "The Seventh Progressive Rock Wonder", which is the project's sub-title. The first disc presents the recent creative explorations of two Italian bands, Leviathan and Greenwall, and one Swedish, Sinkadus, none of which is a novice on the scene. LEVIATHAN opens the set. In its current appearance, the outfit is a trio (keyboards/flute - bass/acoustic guitar/drums - vocals), and they definitely spent much time in the studio while recording their number, A Thought Is Always Free. The song has a rich sound, featuring all of the instruments credited. The music is classic symphonic Art-Rock, but is quite predictable, due to its derivative nature. When listened, I often had the impression that I was hearing the long lost Genesis song, somewhere from 1977, only with an Italian vocalist instead of Collins, who tries his best to reveal his thorough knowledge of the band's canons, Phil's methods of singing included. Fortunately, Leviathan had time to show that they aren't blind followers of their benefactor. Amongst others, the song contains a couple of instrumental sections with unique arrangements, each running for several minutes. In all, although not groundbreaking, this is a pretty nice stuff. GREENWALL is a small chamber Rock ensemble, comprised of five staff members and five guest musicians, who play various wind instruments, violoncello and assorted acoustic percussions. The Secret Passage by them is serious music and is a source of endless progressive pleasure. The band develops territories located far from the beaten paths: from reflective symphonic Art-Rock blended with Baroque classicism, through intensive quasi Jazz-Fusion with a touch of Metal, to eccentric swingy Jazz Rock with a dark atmospheric background, each direction being linked with something unusual. A large arsenal of different instruments is employed across the track, ranging from Hammond to acoustic piano to sax and many more. A lady behind the microphone uses her voice as a soloing instrument, well matching with the players. This would be the strongest song in the set. Essential. SINKADUS appeared as a quartet (keyboards/flute - guitars - bass/vocals - drums). The song the band presents here, the largely instrumental God of Silence, is their best work to date, at least in my view, and I've heard both the studio albums the band has to its credit. The music is dark and anxious, with lots of Mellotron patterns, and definitely, this is a classic Scandinavian Art-Rock. It's in many ways close to Anglagard, but with the less quantity of frenetic arrangements. All in all, this is an excellent composition, though it would've been even better had the band been more adventurous.

Disc II (79 min) - "Secondo Tempo"
*****

TRACK LIST:

1.  Like the Wind I Will Come Back 25:05 (Mad Crayon) *****1/2
2.  Lords & Knights 24:51 (Velvet Desperados) *****
3.  A New Dawn 29:26 (Revelation) ***

Analysis. On the second disc are featured Mad Crayon and Revelation from Italy and Velvet Desperados from Finland. The openers, MAD CRAYON, are a quartet (keyboards - keyboards/lead vocals -electric & acoustic guitar/percussion - bass), each of the musicians providing backing vocals in addition. They often sing in chorus, sometimes to the detriment of the diversity of instrumental parts. Nevertheless, the band's suite, Like the Wind I'll Come Back, isn't devoid of solidly intricate maneuvers, and their strikingly independent compositional thinking helps them sound convincing even when they tend to play simpler. The core of the suite involves a vocal arrangement, which later switches to a dynamic and muscular keys/guitar/bass workout in a classy symphonic style, but with meaty guitar riffs related to Cathedral Metal. My only complaint about Mad Crayon's number concerns their use of a drum machine instead of acoustic drums. If judged by the lineup's configuration (10 members) and the equipment (guitars/vocals - keyboards - bass - drums - percussion - violoncello - French horn - sax - trumpet - trombone), VELVET DESPERADOS is a little orchestra. The music, however, isn't abundant in chamber and brass textures, to say the least. The brass players provide exclusively brief, rhythmic, chord slaps, and cello appears only at the very end of the song and only for about a minute. The music is a blend of Art- and Hard Rock (in its traditional and bluesy manifestations) with elements of what I can hardly define otherwise than pseudo Jazz-Fusion. One of the main values of this composition, Lords & Knights, lies in the originality of most of the music, which is a major trump, of course. However, Velvet Desperados have to get rid of the Pink Floyd influence, which briefly, yet, openly reveals itself in some episodes here, to fully correspond to the status of free thinkers. So here is the conclusion: not brilliant, but with good moments. REVELATION is a traditional Rock quintet (guitars - keyboards - vocals - bass - drums), while their number is a traditional mediocrity, at best. This is a great disappointment in fact. In my honest opinion, this band should not have been called to participate in the project. They compromised themselves as being untalented imitators, parasitizing on the music belonging to others. Their New Dawn is primitive throughout and is an extremely simplified variation on the great Marillion, the Fish-era Marillion, to be precise. This is one of the most shameless and, simultaneously, wretched parodies of the heroes of Neo movement I've ever heard.

Conclusion. Keep up the great work, Colossus, but please beware of impudent wannabes. Why do you need to work with those who don't have a single original idea to their name, especially those of them who are unable to be on par with their idols? Back to the set: Highly recommended, except for the last track, of course. But even without that, there are more than two hours of good and brilliant progressive music.

VM: April 22 & 23, 2005


Related Links:

Musea Records
Colossus


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