[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
(46:08, Quixote Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. New Phase 3:59 2. The Key 4:05 3. Paradise 5:11 4. Out Of Time 8:21 5. Beauty Passing 4:06 6. Citizen Cyclops 3:52 7. Holy Ground 5:08 8. Starlightbound 4:12 9. My Other Life 7:06 LINEUP: Stefan Glomb – el. & ac. guitars Philipp Jaehne – piano, organ Dennis Sturm – bass Phil Griffiths – vocals Dominik Steinbacher – drums; b/v
Prolusion. One of the most prolific prog bands to come out of Germany during the last ten years, POOR GENETIC MATERIAL (PGM hereinafter) are back with their sixth studio album, “Paradise Out of Time”, following “Spring Tidings” (2006), “Free to Random” (2005), “Winter’s Edge” (2003), “Leap Into Fall” (2002) and “Summerland” (2001), all of which have been reviewed on this site as well.
Analysis. Not counting “Free to Random” due to this recording’s clearly experimental nature, it would be safe to assert that, following “Winter’s Edge” from some five years ago, “Paradise out of Time” is the second full-fledged PGM creation that finds them having changed their stylistic orientation, quite sharply deviating from their fundamental style, revealing a sound that is at once less ambitious and original. The Genesis influence, that’s so much characteristic of the precedent case, is in minority on this recording, while what is instantly striking about it is a strong lean towards late ‘70s Pomp Rock. This is best shown up on Uriah Heep-smacked songs, and since those, in turn, are in the majority here they will be viewed last of all. As applied to the said style (which includes symphonic Hard Rock of course), the songwriting as well as the performance is very decent, though PGM at times fall straight into AOR, as is brightly reflected on the opening piece, New Phase, a plain, rhythmic and repetitive song, only in its postlude revealing a kind of extra potential - in the form of folk-tinged passage with a violin at its helm. On the other hand however, this is one of the two tracks that don’t arouse any associations, the other being its track list counterpart, My Other Life, one of my favorite tunes here, standing out for its expanded hard- and blues-rock inspired instrumental section with fine guitar and organ work and few vocals. With the exception of its introductory theme (featuring only vocals and piano), which is strongly reminiscent of the title number of Uriah Heep’s “Firefly”, the next to last track, Starlightbound, is musically almost a twin brother of its follow-up, in all senses, and is another significant addition to the disc’s piggy bank of virtues. The ballad Paradise only warms me up during its two brief instrumental interludes, one of which has a refined interplay between (still mostly bluesy) guitar and piano, while the other is flavored with elements of Japanese music. Otherwise the song reminds me to a certain degree of Congo from Genesis’s “Calling All Stations”, partly because Phil Griffiths’ approach here is strongly reminiscent of Ray Wilson’s. As mentioned above, the rest of the material can safely be called Pomp Rock with occasional genuinely progressive tendencies, compositionally suggesting something halfway between the John Lawton era of Uriah Heep (three albums in 1977 and 1978) and “A Piece of Eight” by Styx (1978), but in overall sound only bringing to mind the former band. While The Key from time to time echoes early-‘80s Genesis as well, on the remaining four tracks, Out Of Time, Beauty Passing, Citizen Cyclops and Holy Ground the sound has indeed much in common with Uriah Heep, with an emphasis on mixed hard- and art-rock structures, though the last of these contains also a few laidback themes with a certain balladic sense, whilst Citizen Cyclops rocks almost throughout. Each of these reveals some dramatic transitions, the relative repetitiveness of their vocal-laden moves being well compensated for by their (again comparatively) long instrumental passages. That being said, the instrumental arrangements favor Stefan Glomb’s guitar and Philipp Jaehne’s organ and piano. Nevertheless Dennis Sturm often gets a chance in the spotlight also, always proving himself to be as capable a bassist as Trevor Bolder, even though Uriah Heep have almost always been famed for their bass players. Singer Phil Griffiths reminds me much more often of John Lawton or a mixture of Lawton and Ray Wilson here than Damian Wilson, unlike any of the previous PGM recordings with vocals.
Conclusion. Save “Winter’s Edge”, the music on the new PGM album is simpler than any of its predecessors, mainly with regard to the variety and the density of the arrangements. Despite its flaws however, “Paradise out of Time” depicts a band that still has potential, as they’re still able to change their style (though I believe they’ve done it so as to avoid stagnation). The conclusion is simple: if Pomp Rock is part of your listening repertoire, be sure to check this disc out.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: March 22, 2008
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]