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Uzbekistan band FLIGHT 09 have been a going concern since 1986, and are among the real veterans of the Uzbek rock music scene. To my knowledge they have released 6 albums so far, although they may have more albums that hasn't been made available in western hemispheres as well. "The Age of Innocence" dates back to 2014, and was released through Uzbekistan label Iosis. Flight 09 strikes me as a band that as of 2014 seeks to create music that stretch beyond a mere progressive rock oriented context. They do feature quite a few compositions that broadly does fit into a neo-progressive rock context, but just about as many songs have a much stronger melodic rock orientation to them. Radio friendly and fairly unassuming in many ways, but also music that is easy on the mind and ears in a very pleasant kind of way. The album itself is what I'd describe as something of a hit and miss affair. Many songs have their moments of magic, the keyboard and guitar combinations in particular can be truly striking at their best, and the band know their way around a good melody as well. Dampened funky guitar details is used to good effect in many songs, and the band even flirts ever so slightly with southern rock and Americana along the way here, which is a rather novel feature by a progressive rock band. There are elements here that are less endearing as well, however. Few of the songs manage to maintain the sparkling magic of their best moments, and a few ongoing details does have a detrimental effect as well. The gruff lead vocal style of the band's main vocalist is one of them, very much a case of an acquired taste I'd say, and when going in with more intensity my main association is that this particular vocal style would suit a sleaze metal band much better. The vocals are more fitting to the surroundings when delivered with a lower amount of intensity, but never at the point where they elevate the total listener experience. How much of an audience this band will have outside of Uzbekistan based on their music alone I cannot tell. That they orient their material towards melodic rock should give them a broader general reach, but if the material on this album is strong enough to make a strong impression is something I'm really unsure about. There are some fine moments and striking details to enjoy though, and this album merits a check by the curious for those reasons.
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