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Ovrfwrd - 2014 - "Beyond the Visible Light"

(47:53, ‘Ovrfwrd’)


1.  Can We Keep the Elephant? 8:02
2.  Stones of Temperance 8:49
3.  Raviji 11:18
4.  The Man with No Shoes 10:48
5.  Darkest Star 8:56 


Chris Malmgren – keyboards 
Rikki Davenport – drums 
Mark Ilaug – guitars 
Kyle Lund – bass 

Prolusion. The US foursome OVRFWRD was formed in November 2012, fulfilling a long time desire for founding members Rikki Davenport and Mark Ilaug to be a part of an instrument progressive rock band. "Beyond the Visible Light" is their debut album, self-released in January 2014.

Analysis. One of the refreshing aspects of the music of Ovrfwrd is that it isn't the kind of progressive rock that can be described as typically residing inside one of the many traditions or subgenres one tends to operate with in a progressive rock context. One might describe their take on instrumental progressive rock as eclectic, at least to some extent. The band moves back and forth between a number of different modes of expression throughout. They are rather fond of the guitar and organ combination, and recurring elements are various combinations of those two instruments as the dominating ones. Both with the classic riff and organ combinations that can be traced back to the harder edged ‘70s bands as well as the more insistent combinations modern day progressive metal bands explore. But there's also room for combinations of those instruments exploring a gentler mood. Ovrfwrd is just as fond of exploring similar arrangements combining guitars and piano too, creating a rather different sound and atmosphere when those two instruments combine. As far as the guitars go, compact, harder edged riffs and darker, richer guitar riffs both have their place here, as do elegant plucked guitar details and additional acoustic guitars supplementing the electric one. The latter is also used to provide subtly or more dramatic twisted modes, often adding a psychedelic touch to the proceedings when providing riffs as well as when venturing on a guitar solo run. We're also treated to our fair share of clean, elegant guitar soloing, and there's also room for some shredding to be found. A recurring tendency in just about all the songs here are certain passages or fragments that sound fairly similar to Rush, a band that is also mentioned as a source of inspiration for this band. But those tendencies don't at all dominate this production, as the compositions include all the elements mentioned above and a few more in a great variety of different constellations. The Rush reference merits a mention mainly because it is a familiar sounding one amidst a musical landscape containing many constellations much harder to put a name tag or a genre description to. Another point of reference is that Ovrfwrd does know their way around jazz-fusion a bit too, and will shift towards some jazz rock-oriented runs on occasion. It is also a recurring feature, but only rarely in form and manner which is distinct, as they appear to favor including certain elements and details from that part of the progressive rock universe. Which, apart from the more distinct Rush references commented on, pretty much sums up this disc. Familiar sounding bits and pieces assembled in some subtle and some not so subtle different sounding arrangements.

Conclusion. Fairly innovative instrumental progressive rock is what Ovrfwrd provides us with on their debut album "Beyond the Visible Light". Using bits and pieces from all over the progressive rock universe they have created their own brand of progressive rock, and while not distinct enough at this point to merit a description as one uniquely their own, it is unique enough to not invite to any instant associations. An album that merits an inspection by those with a strong affection for instrumental progressive rock, and a desire to listen to a band that explores this kind of music in a manner that doesn't invite instant associations to specific bands, styles or traditions.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 19, 2015
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