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Uzbekistan band FLIGHT 09 have a history that goes back to 1986, and are veterans of their local music scene. Six of their albums have been made available to a western audience. The most recent of these is called "Drifft", and was initially released in 2016 through Uzbekistan label Iosis. Listening to the two most recent albums by this veteran unit, it is easy to tell that there are fairly similar in many ways. The band still have their nods in the direction of neo-progressive rock, but my impression is that they are oriented ever so slightly closer towards melodic rock and even AOR-oriented material on this album. While not a marked difference as such, the tendencies are there, especially in the structure of the material at hand here. Otherwise I do note that the band continues to craft engaging guitar riff and keyboards combinations, and some of the standalone keyboard work here is amazing. Truly engaging at their best moments, but once again this is a case of fine moments in a greater totality that on a whole isn't quite as engaging. The main vocalist remains very much an acquired taste, although he does use his voice in a less divisive manner on this album, focusing on a more careful mode of delivery. But in my view at least he doesn't have the kind of voice needed to elevate the overall experience, and some of the songs here are in need of a vocalist that are able to give the song a final vocal push upwards in terms of engaging the listener. Like on the previous album a female lead vocalist join in here and there, and her role has been expanded from one song on the previous album to three songs on this one. And at least two of the songs she contributes on here are all the better because of it, managing to lift those two songs up a notch in experienced engagement. This is the case for the third song where she contributes as well, but a final sequence that for me dragged on for too long annulled that effect to some extent. As with the previous album by Flight 09, I experience the band as off 2016 to be something of a hit and miss band, where the strongest assets are the guitar and keyboard combinations as well as the keyboards in general, with some songs being of a high quality and others not managing to impress on a consistent basis. This most recent album is also a step up in the production department, so while I do not find this latest one to be any better as a whole, the details that are improved should make this album one with a stronger potential reach as far as the buying audience is concerned. If a band that combine melodic rock with neo-progressive rock tendencies appeals to you, it may be worth lending this album an ear at some point, especially if you are a dedicated fan of this specific combination of genres.
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