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Tracklist: 1. Tsunami (inst.) 3-19 2. The Far Kingdoms 8-03 3. Now Where? Nowhere! 7-01 4. The Roof of the World 5-44 5. Changes 5-44 6. Tragic Hero 6-01 7. Last Order (inst.) 2-09 Line-up: Holger Birnbrauer - guitars, vocals Marc Dopf - keyboards, vocals Miguel Rodriguez - vocals, guitars Hannes Huber - drums, vocals Simon Hofmann - basses, vocals All tracks composed and produced by Gormenghast.
Prologue. It is strange enough that the guys at Gormenghast have just begun the promotion of their demo album, while according to the copyright information it was already completed back in 1999. Also, it's especially curious, why an impressive (by all means: see below) album such as "Now Where? Nowhere!" hasn't been officially released till now.
The Album. While all the five songs of the album, being created within the frame of the united stylistics, are structurally quite similar among themselves, both instrumentals Tsunami and Last Order (the 1st and the last tracks respectively) sound different yet quite relevant with regard to the album as a whole. Tsunami, consisting of energetic arrangements with heavy, variegated riffs of electric guitar and an impressive keyboard solo at the head of them, looks as a very good intro, and Last Order, representing low yet quite diverse interplays between semi-acoustic guitar and bass guitar solos, is a good, at least, outro of the album. Five songs, surrounded by instrumental pieces, are however the highlights of the album. Beginning with the epic The Far Kingdoms and concluding with Tragic Hero, each of them contains a lot of quite unexpected changes of musical directions (along with tempos, which sound especially impressive), mostly dramatic, always diverse vocal parts, rich instrumental arrangements with very effective duets and trios of soloing keyboards and piano, electric, semi-acoustic and bass guitars, etc. Musically, the six first tracks sound in many ways typical for (not too harsh) Prog-Metal, though there is a couple of symphonic vocal and instrumental parts in each of the five songs. But despite the fact that all of them are full of classic progressive characters (though, the album's title-track is less rich in them than the others), they aren't, at the same time (surprisingly), extremely complex. Instead, they, both instrumentally and vocally, are full of such a naive, charming and even magic beauty that was most of all typical only for the pioneers of the genre in their halcyon days in the 1970s. The music of Gormenghast is very original, but to have some relative associations with the said phenomenon, recall the musical and, especially, vocal palettes of The Magician's Birthday (from Uriah Heep's album of the same title), the instrumental diversity of Gypsy (from Black Sabbath's "Technical Ecstasy") and the beautiful keyboard (especially piano) parts of Rendezvous 6:02 (from UK's "Danger Money"). You've got a nice picture, haven't you?
Summary. Although there is only one composition on the album (title-track) that doesn't sound progressive enough to these ears (lyrics is also a bit of a weak spot here), I can't award to Gormenghast's demo a status less than excellent, (just) according to our 'progressive observations', expounded in "The Rating Room". But actually, "Now Where? Nowhere!" is musically (and vocally) such a unique album that it will doubtless appeal to most heads of all the four 'camps' of Classic and Neo Prog-Metal and Art-Rock (or Symphonic Prog) genres. Moreover, this one along with Braindance's "Redemption" (to read the review on this album click here) and a few other contemporary albums has potential to reach even a mass audience and, this way, bring Prog Rock back to the mainstream. Highly recommended!
VM. September 25, 2001
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