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(38:55; Progressive Gears)
TRACK LIST: 1. The End 2:12 2. You Are the One 4:11 3. Now You're Gone 3:44 4. IV 0:53 5. Black Swan 3:24 6. Until We Meet Again 4:34 7. Hear Me Now 4:04 8. Room of Angel 5:29 9. The World Is Filled with Silence 6:35 10. Takamaa 3:49 LINEUP : Tommi Niemi - vocals Lauri Kovero - guitars Raino Ketola - guitars Nona Onnela - violin Tommi Tanhuanpaa - Drums, vocals Antti Valiniemi - bass Evelina Sydanlahde - piano, flute, vocals with: Sara Lahtinen - cello Katri Antikainen - cello Maria Opoku-Aikins - vocals Petri Juutilainen - trombone Niilo Harjuntautsa - flugelhorn Georgo Bille - flugelhorn, trumpet Tampere Opera Choir
Prolusion. Finnish band NARYAN was formed back in 2005 by like-minded musicians with a desire to create material in a similar vein to artists such as King Crimson and Pink Floyd. Following a few years of a more fluid line-up situation, some single releases and an initial album, the band started to solidify when they released their second album "Black Letters" via Inverse Records back in 2015. Some years and some further line-up revisions later Naryan now reappear with their third album "The Withering", which was released through the label Progressive Gears" towards the end if 2020.
Analysis. Naryan as they appear in 2020 is a band I'd pretty much describe as purveyors of cinematic progressive rock, in the sense that cinematic scores strikes me as a likely direct or indirect source of inspiration to a much greater degree than many other possible points of reference here. The liberal use of orchestral overlays and motifs throughout this album being a substantial part of the reasoning here, along with the manner in which they are used and applied. It should also be noted that this is quite the emotional experience, with moods such as sadness, mourning and sorrow as common denominators throughout. While the different songs have their differences here, "The Withering" does strike me as a rather uniform affair due to the moods and atmospheres that are so constant throughout. Due to that this will also be an album that will limit it's appeal ever so slightly, as the listeners needs to enjoy immersing themselves in such emotions to be able to enjoy all aspects of this album. The songs themselves will typically alternate between gentler and more majestic passages, with the piano and acoustic guitar central along with the lead vocals for the calmer phases, with the cello, violin and flute as the main support instruments. In addition orchestral overlays will be used carefully and to good effect in these sections. These more careful constructions will typically alternate with more majestic and harder edged passages, with darker toned guitar riffs, more distinct and often a bit heavy set rhythms, and of course richer and often more fleshed out orchestral arrangements on top. The piano and acoustic guitar will occasionally remain as a more delicate contrast in these sections. For the more intense and emotional parts of both types backing vocals are used, occasionally with a bit more of an operatic orientation. The compositions are possibly a bit more straight forward in structure than what this description might imply. We do have some nice and nifty transitions here and there, some additional flavoring is used throughout as well, but the material is open and inviting to a much greater extent than being challenging and hard to grasp. References to folk music appear in places, some possible post-rock details as well, but as far as I am concerned there aren't really any strong ties to a style such as symphonic progressive rock or chamber rock here, despite the liberal use of string instruments and orchestral backing. In fact, quite often I was fairly often reminded of the more easier going aspects of neo-progressive rock throughout this album, and what this might sound like if the usual keyboard arrays usually found in that variety of progressive rock were replaced by an orchestra. I also took note of some possible references to later day Pink Floyd, especially towards the end of this CD. Other than these observations and opinions, my impression is also that this is a really solid and well made production. The elements and contrasts are effective, the musicianship is good, the lead and backing vocals are well up to the task and the mix and production emphasize the compelling and inviting nature of the material in a good way. What is lacking for me personally are the bits and pieces that transforms this from an album I'll gladly spend some time listening to every so often to an album I need to listen to frequently. Those impossible to describe nuances that transforms a solid album into a brilliant one according to my particular taste in music.
Conclusion. If you know and love progressive rock of the relatively more easygoing type, Naryan's latest album "The Withering" is one you may want to give a closer inspection. The music is one I'd describe as orchestral, cinematic progressive rock, with cinematic scores and neo-progressive rock as possible sources of inspiration alongside s slight touch of late 70's Pink Floyd. The mood and atmosphere is one of melancholy and sorrow though, so a taste for an album's worth of such emotions is needed to be able to enjoy this production. But if this description ticks all the right boxes for you, this album is one I suspect will end up high on your list of best albums to be released in 2020. And on a personal note I'll add that such emotions strikes me as very appropriate for that calendar year too.
Progmessor: December 2020
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