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(61:51, Trope Audio)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Open Road 8:43 2. Bruises and Blisters 5:52 3. Lying Down with Dogs 6:15 4. The Mist of Forgetting 7:03 5. The Love Letter 9:31 6. Remembering 7:20 7. Romancing the Wurm 6:34 8. The Eagle, the Voice, the Light 3:03 9. Robed in Glory 7:30 LINEUP: Jim Anderson - bass John Mabry - vocals Greg Miller - drums Malcolm Smith - guitars Marc Spooner - keyboards
Prolusion. US band METAPHOR has a history that goes back to the early 1990's, and was initially a Genesis cover band that developed into a proper creative outfit over the span of a few years. Following an active phase in the years after the millennium shift, Metaphor have apparently been on the back-burner for a few years now. This year they mark their return with "The Pearl", their first new album in 12 years.
Analysis. Reading up on this band, I see that they are by and large described as being neo-progressive in general style, and by and large seen as a Genesis influenced and Genesis derivative band. Notions I can understand, to some degree, but also descriptions that is a slight disservice to what this band is all about. At least at this stage in their career. There's no denying that this is a band fond of strong melodies, sweeping keyboard arrangements and atmospheric laden guitar details and guitar solo runs. Fans of both neo progressive rock and classic era Genesis will encounter quite a few familiar moments. Up to and including functional lead vocals in the Gabriel and Fish tradition. And as for the latter, there is a song or two present that will please fans of Fish era Marillion too. But Metaphor treasure other aspects of the genre as well. Bassist Anderson appears to be rather fond of loud, booming bass lines for instance, something that was a staple for one of the other giants of progressive rock. The band aren't afraid to shift into more expressive waters either, with the cut Bruises and Blisters arguably the best example of the band taking on material of a more challenging general nature. Some nice, hard guitar riffs are used here and there as well, this details perhaps more in line with the neo-progressive orientation many ascribed to the band by others, as at least some bands in that tradition would use such details to a greater extent than the classic era progressive rock bands, although this wasn't unheard of in the 1970's either. And in my book, Metaphor is a band that looks back to the 1970's to a greater extent than anywhere else. My impression is that these guys know and love their classic era progressive rock, perhaps with a more keen admiration for the symphonic varieties than for the others. As far as that perception goes, the keyboards and keyboard arrangements are arguable the most prominent positive aspects of this album as a whole. Mix and production is a tad below the Steven Wilson's of the world, and gives the album what I'd describe as an 80's sound more than anything else. Adding a retro vibe, for better or worse I guess, much depending on personal taste.
Conclusion. Metaphor is a veteran band by now, sticking around for a quarter of a century at this point. This is a band that know, love and cherish classic era progressive rock, and the symphonic varieties of the genre more than the others at that I would assume. As for the music they create, those who tends to enjoy the more atmospheric laden varieties of this part of the genre will probably be a key audience for this album, as long as they also can treasure a band that adds a few more challenging details into the fray now and then.
Progmessor: February 1st, 2019
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