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(61:33 / MetalMind Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Skala 4:54 2. Plonace Mysli 7:42 3. In Heaven & Hell 7:02 4. Silence 6:46 5. Sunny Day 7:03 6. My Paradise 5:17 7. Pielgrzym 8:16 8. Akri 7:27 9. Zug a Zene Mindenhol 7:06 LINEUP: Jozef Skrzek – bass; keyboards, organ; harmonica Apostolis Anthimos - guitars Gabor Nemeth - drums
Prolusion. SBB is a trio from Poland, and with a history going back to 1970. They are among the most experienced bands currently active in their native country. "The Rock" is their latest studio album, released by Metal Mind Productions in October 2007.
Analysis. The nine tracks on this recording, formerly known as "Silesian Blues Band", explore several slightly different musical directions. There are several common elements to the songs though, and most compositions contain symphonic textures and clear influences from psychedelic and space rock not too dissimilar to Pink Floyd. Keyboards and synthesizers are vital ingredients in all tunes here. SBB excel at creating strong atmospheres with a multitude of layers from these instruments, with wind synths floating above the other instruments in the soundscape, while Hammond organ, piano or a secondary synthesizer layer provide the main melodic elements of the individual compositions. Additional layers can often be found as well, adding minor melodic elements to the songs. The guitar is mainly used to enhance moods and atmospheres to the musical tapestry. There are some instances where melodic slick riffing or acoustic or clean guitar melodies are added to strengthen the songs, but most times the guitar provides atmospheric soloing or slight mood enhancing effects to the tunes, often with a blues-influenced quality to the sound. Similarities to David Gilmour's work in Pink Floyd are obvious, but in style and manner I think this is closer to RPWL's Kalle Wallner's delivery. Opening tunes Skala and Plonace Mysli are the tunes with the least of the above mentioned elements on this release, and although they are present, it's the extensive use of Hammond and a hard rock influenced soundscape that are the characteristic traits of these songs, coming across as somewhat similar to Atomic Rooster in general style, but with a positive and uplifting atmosphere Vincent Crane's outfit never came close to. In Heaven & Hell, after a slightly overlong chaotic introduction, explores a keyboards dominated musical landscape with a high degree of symphonic and space rock elements, cleverly intensifying in mood with a gradual increase in pace and intensity. Silence and Sunny Day are ballads enhanced with symphonic elements and atmospheric guitar work, while My Paradise is a more Pink Floyd inspired tune with a chorus sounding pretty much like something that could have been written by Genesis in the early 70's. Pielgrzym starts out as a folk inspired tune with psychedelic elements, soon evolving into a more space rock oriented composition with musical elements with a middle-eastern tinge to it and a transfixing hypnotic groove. Akri takes the space rock influences and explores them in a mellower and more melodic musical landscape, before the last track, Zug a Zene Mindenhol, takes us back to a style similar to the one explored on the first two tracks of the album, with a Hammond-driven groove dominating the piece. In this case more similar to Steppenwolf though, especially in the verse parts of the song.
Conclusion. "The Rock" is a release with a high degree of variation in style, but with a similarity in mood and atmosphere containing a strong musical identity. Not all the tunes work out, in particular the ballads come across as somewhat generic, but there are not really any weak songs here either. Most of the tracks are high class and the last three compositions are stellar. Recommended. Fans of melodic symphonic space rock and classic hard rock with symphonic elements should find plenty here to enjoy.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: February 14, 2008
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