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TRACK LIST: 1. Cold Black Heart 4:34 2. Tears 4:55 3. Muzzled 7:06 4. Slime 8:32 5. I Will Make It Up to You 5:49 6. To the Edge 6:36 7. Beautiful World 7:57 8. Slip Away 8:24 9. Free 5:23 LINEUP: Rob Reed – bass, guitars; keyboards Dylan Thompson – vocals; guitars Andy Edwards – drums Luke Machin – guitars With: Tesni Jones – vocals Lorraine King – vocals Kirstie Roberts – vocals
Prolusion. The UK foursome KIAMA was formed in 2015 by musicians that have quite a pedigree on the UK progressive rock scene, sporting members with a past and present in bands such as Magenta, Kompendium, IQ, The Tangent, Frost*, Maschine, Shadow Of The Sun and The Reasoning. "Sign of IV" is their debut album, and was released through Rob Reed’s own label TigerMoth Records at the start of 2016.
Analysis. While Kiama is a band with a strong pedigree in progressive rock circles, I rather guess that a few will find them surprised about what these four talented musicians have been at with this side venture. As is, this is a production that isn't really a purebred progressive rock album as such, although it doesn't shy away from those realms either. I guess one might describe the album as an updated version of the bands in the ‘70s that flirted with progressive rock from a classic rock and hard rock foundation, just how much so something that will be for the individual listener to make a call on. At the core of the compositions on the disc are songs that are accessible. The lead vocals dominate, there's liberal use of female backing vocals of the kind that is common in many varieties of mainstream rock, and the instrumentalists tend to shy away from the quirkier and more challenging escapades, at least on a surface level. The greater majority of the songs operate out from a ballad foundation, at least initially, and those, who love and treasure sections of sparse acoustic guitars, piano or both combined with quality, controlled and emotional lead vocals, will find a lot to enjoy here. On the other hand, however, this is an album that does expand upon these borders as well. While we do get a couple of vibrant compositions with more of a, say, Led Zeppelin spirit included as well, and more commonly a number of classic organ and guitar riff constellations that come across as a modern day take on the classic Deep Purple sound, these more vibrant sequences don't define the album either. Partially because most of them are found in the compositions that open up as more of ballad-oriented affairs, but also because there's more to the material here as well. Pastoral interludes with mournful Mellotron layers are a recurring feature throughout, instrumental sections sporting keyboard arrangements that arguably have more of a symphonic progressive rock character to them another facet that appears here and there, and perhaps a bit more frequent are darker toned, atmospheric passages sporting guitars and organ combined in more of a later day Pink Floyd manner, with and without additional keyboard support. On a couple of occasions I'd swear that some jazz-tinged instrument details have been put into the mix as well. The point is that the greater majority of the compositions features one or more of these more progressive rock oriented additions. You'll have songs where lead vocalist Dylan channels his inner Peter Gabriel as well as exercising his Robert Plant mannerisms, songs that move from pastoral landscapes to classic riff and organ based hard rock and over to territories with more of a symphonic intent.
Conclusion. Sophisticated rock or sophisticated hard rock is often how I'd describe this kind of album, an updated take on the classic rock sound of the ‘70s that incorporated some or more progressive rock elements a longer description. I'll leave it to the individual listener to make a call for just how much or not the latter applies. In any case, this is a well-made album on all levels. As such, it easily merits an inspection by those who find music defined and described in this manner to be of general interest.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: October 14, 2016
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