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(59:02, Gentle Art of Music Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Dawn 2:35 2. Confess Your Crime 8:26 3. Eternal Step 6:31 4. Any Colour You Need 8:19 5. Daylight after the Rain 3:32 6. Fields of Consciousness 6:35 7. Hearts on Sale 5:45 8. Eternity 2:00 9. All of This 5:43 10. Sky without Stars 5:21 11. The Day That Doesn’t End 4:15 LINEUP: Yenz – vocals; bass Nils Conrad – guitars Tom Ronney – drums Frank Kohler – keyboards
Prolusion. The German band CRYSTAL PALACE has a history going back more than 20 years, but has spent the greater majority of these as something of an underground entity known by a select few. However, things started to change ever so slightly in that department a few years back, and then especially after the band signed with the German label Gentle Art of Music. "Dawn of Eternity" is their latest studio album, and was released through the aforementioned label in the summer of 2016.
Analysis. When Crystal Palace started to find their way as a band a few years back, or rather to explore landscapes with a broader interest base than previously, one of the factors present was that they opted to explore a sound and style not too far removed from what bands like Porcupine Tree have done over the years. It would appear that this phase of Crystal Palace history is nearing the end if the material on this CD is anything to judge by, as sounds and material of this nature is confined to mainly one composition on their latest album: The song named Confess Your Crime. And even then as a part of a greater totality rather than being a purebred excursion into such landscapes. The band does retain the song structures they have developed over the last few years, with multiple themes and alterations in pace and intensity being common features on the greater majority of the compositions. The style arrangements have developed a bit, however, and Crystal Palace as of 2016 is now a band much closer aligned to what is commonly described as neo progressive rock. The songs tend to be shorter, the focus on harmonies and melodies stronger, and the use of electronic sounds and darker effects have lessened. A specialty of the band in this latter guise is the use of multiple layers of keyboards, both in the gentler and in the more majestic passages of their songs, with guitars providing either firm, plucked motifs in more of a Pink Floyd- inspired manner, gentler wandering and careful, light toned plucked guitars or occasionally a smooth but form, darker toned guitar riff the most common variations utilized. For the guitar solo runs there is a certain emphasis on floating, emotional modes of delivery of the kind that fans of Steve Rothery and, perhaps to a lesser extent, David Gilmour should find not altogether unfamiliar. The lead vocals follow that line as well, so to speak, in being melodic, clear and at times with a stronger emphasis on a careful emotional-oriented mode of delivery. As far as associations are concerned, this most recent edition of Crystal Palace actually comes across as bearing some key similarities with label mates RPWL and their last few albums, as far as style of music is concerned. Crystal Palace doesn't use as many subtly exotic and mystical sounding effects as RPWL, and I'd say at this stage that Crystal Palace is of a superior quality in the lead vocals department when comparing the two as well, but apart from those the general and overall style of those bands are, in my view, comparable at this stage.
Conclusion. Crystal Palace as of 2016 comes across as a quality band firmly placed within a neo-progressive rock general sphere of reference. Layered keyboards and careful to majestic guitar and keyboards-driven arrangements with a strong focus on melodies and harmonies are the order of the day, with contrasts carefully explored rather than dramatically applied. Those with an interest in later day neo-progressive rock should find this production to be a rewarding one, and those who tend to enjoy listening to bands such as RPWL will most likely find this album to be of interest as well.
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