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(58:56 / 'Feed Forward')
TRACK LIST: 1. Fade Away 6:22 2. Run the Race 5:11 3. Crossing the Line 8:28 4. Innocence 5:48 5. 143 4:36 6. Our Sky For One Time 2:39 7. Before I Leave 5:59 8. Silent 4:50 9. Moving 7:35 10. Stop to Think 7:22 LINEUP: Mario – electric guitar Biejanka – vocals Job – keyboards Jan – bass Pi – drums; b/v
Prolusion. FEED-FORWARD is a Dutch quintet presenting their first full-length album, “Barefoot & Naked”, and having several live performances and three demos as the preceding chapter of their story, whose beginning falls on 2002. The disc’s title instantly evokes “Barefoot and naked, fooled and forsaken” from ‘the anthem of Soviet back street kids’ (here: waifs).
Analysis. And here’s what’s on my mind now: Somewhere below I will repeat almost word-for-word a few sentences from the review of “Pathosray” (written only two or three days ago), due to some more than merely striking similarities between Feed Forward’s creation and that one. Since these five musicians hide their last names, they’re youths I’m sure, but they all sound surprisingly mature, and it is only by taking their debut effort as a whole that it would be safe to mention that some preference is given to the guitar work of Mario and the vocals of Biejanka. This female singer has a soft attack and engaging voice reminiscent of The Gathering’s Anneke Van Giergbergen, though the entire band tend to keep somewhat closer to the dramatic style of Gothic-tinged Prog-Metal that their more famous countrymen turned to in the mid-‘90s, than to the genre’s more widespread manifestations: the ones advocated by Queensryche and Dream Theater in this particular case. Feed Forward build most of their music around guitar riffs, but three of the seven compositions in the album’s prevalent style (I hope I’ve already given you some general idea of it), Fade Away, Run the Race and Before I Leave, all utilize also quite a few of symphonic elements, as keyboardist Job introduces some excellent synthesizer leads into the songs’ heavier textures, while a few art-rock-sounding segments are all driven by him on piano. That being said, keyboards are quite rare guests on the other three songs from the said category, 143, Silent and Stop to Think, and yet I wouldn’t say I feel disappointed over the matter, since musically these display even more variety, and by the way the first two are the shortest tracks on the disc, but are both not in the least less compelling than any of the longer ones, partly because each finds the band paying more attention to purely instrumental arrangements, partly due to my particular interest in uncompromisingly intricate heavy music. One would say then it won’t come as a surprise if this reviewer chooses Moving, the disc’s sole instrumental and at the same time its heaviest composition, as the pick of this set. Just lend an ear to this piece: there are the most interesting chord progressions to be found anywhere on this disc. Despite all my liking for this recording as well as its makers, I am not willing to forgive the obligatory ballads, Crossing the Line and Innocence, whose wealth in melodramatic feelings is akin to a soap opera - something often crossing my tolerance limit. And after all, why do they follow each other? They’d have left a bit better impression if they had been placed as far as possible from each other. Featuring only vocals and piano, Our Sky for One Time is a conventional ballad, but it doesn’t bore me, partly because it is short.
Conclusion. Overall this is a very good album, without making any allowances for its debut status. On most of the tracks the musicians demonstrate a craftsmanship in composing and playing that is on par at least with their primary mentors. Feel free, Feed-Forward, to use this review in your “feed-back” section if you will.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: February 17, 2008
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