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Track List: 1. Clock 10:09 2. Changing the Rules 4:46 3. Waiting For Darkness 2:46 4. Simple Man 10:25 5. Shadows of the Past 7:27 6. Driving 5:09 7. Ice 10:14 8. Morphios 6:45 9. Mud On the Hill 14:35 All tracks: by Deep Thought. Line-up: Martin Altenbach - drums & percussion Pat Merz - lead & backing vocals Marcel Oehler - electric & semi-acoustic guitars Dominik Pfleghaar - keyboards Dominik Rudmann - basses Recorded by Deep Thought at "Air Road Shelter" studios. Mixed by K. Namdur at "Frog Alley Records", Basel. Mastered by G. Hauser, Switzerland.
Preamble. "Somewhere In the Dark" is the first full-length album by Switzerland's band Deep Thought. There is a review of Deep Thought's debut mini-CD on ProgressoR. However, all three of the songs from that mini-CD are featured on this album as well. I am going to compare the old and new versions of them in this review, so I think there's no special need for you to read the other review.
The Album. I was right while guessing that the new versions of the songs from the debut mini-CD of the band: Simple Man, Shadows of the Past, and Ice (tracks 4, 5, & 7), are way better than the originals. Stylistically however, they're still about Neo Symphonic Art-Rock where the presence of elements of Prog-Metal is insignificant. Although overall, all of these three songs are excellent, these are the only songs on the album where the influences of Marillion are sometimes obvious. Whereas all six of the other, completely new songs on "Somewhere In the Dark": Clock, Changing the Rules, Waiting For Darkness, Driving, Morphios, and Mud On the Hill (1, 2, 3, 6, 8, & 9), are real masterpieces and by all means. Stylistically, each of them represents a fusion of Symphonic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal. It's not that easy for me to put the prefix of Neo before the first of the genre constituents that form the style of this album. While the sound of all six of Deep Thought's new songs is quite typical for Neo, the arrangements that they consist of are typical for Classic Progressive. The frequent use of the highly complex stop-to-play movements and odd meters is among the central hallmarks of this album. Furthermore, there are more of the purely instrumental arrangements than vocally instrumental ones on most of the aforementioned masterpieces, and this is still not everything. The number of different vocal and instrumental themes that are present only on Clock (1) is so large that it would be enough of them for some mediocre wannabe band to 'build' a whole album. One of a dozen (at least) of different instrumental parts on the album's opening track is, by the way, based on the tunes of music of the East. Most of the other best songs on the album are also notable for the frequent changes of themes, most of which pronouncedly differ from each other. It must be mentioned that the solos of bass guitar are on "Somewhere In the Dark" as tasteful and virtuosi as those of guitar and keyboards. The excellent separate solos of bass and the interplay between them and those of hand percussion instruments are present in the middle of Simple Man and in the very beginning of Driving. The vocals on the album aren't that great. On the other hand, Pat Merz has a distinctively original voice, which won't remind you of anyone's, even though most of his vocal parts are of a theatrically dramatic character.
Summary. Despite the fact that, as I've mentioned above, there are some Marillion influences on the first full-length album by Deep Thought, I think that "Somewhere In the Dark" should please not only the fans of Neo. Frankly, I am very much impressed with most of the contents of this CD and find it one of the strongest and most interesting albums of Neo Progressive that I've heard for the last three years, at least.
VM: January 17, 2003
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