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(43:55; Karisma Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Hunter 10:33 2. Hydra 10:34 3. Ikaros 9:26 4. Sisyphos 13:22 LINE UP : Benjamin Mekki Wideroe - saxophone Erlend Vottvik Olsen - guitars Fredrik Mekki Wideroe - drums, guitars, vocals Haakon Mikkelsen Vinje - keyboards, vocals Stian Okland - guitars, vocals Tormod Fosso - bass
Prolusion. Norwegian band Seven Impale have been a going concern for close to 15 years at this point, albeit without too many albums to their name at this stage. I recall enjoying their first two albums quite a bit, especially the first of them, but quite a few years have passed by since their most recent studio album saw the light of day. But after a seven year long wait the band have now returned with their third studio production. The album is called "Summit", and is out on Norwegian label Karisma Records.
Analysis. As with the previous two albums by Seven Impale, challenging and expressive progressive rock is what we are served on this production. The compositions are long, the changes and alterations in pace, intensity and general orientation are numerous, and the arrangements are complex and filled with layers and sounds. A staple throughout are saxophone driven surges, typically with a majestic or challenging orientation, executed in a manner similar to the kind of escapades one will find in brass rock oriented bands. Complete with a liberal amount of jazz impulses, including a bit of a free form sensibilities here and there. The songs will alternate between different moods and modes in a compelling, striking and interesting manner. While the opening song 'Hunter' alternates between calmer, ominous landscapes and explosive surges prior to concluding on a darker and more powerful note that wouldn't have been out of place on an album by fellow Norwegian band Vulture Industries, the second track 'Hydra' pairs off the explosive surges with a tight, hard but more controlled instance of riff driven passages, the latter of which in it's second phase is also used s the foundation to gradually build from this orientation up towards a more grandiose and expressive final stage. 'Ikaros' follows up with a focus on more challenging excursions in general, and features some of the most abrasive details on this album as a whole, pairing off these side steps with powerful and dramatic sections that again gives me associations towards aforementioned Vulture Industries. These tendencies continue in the initial phases of the concluding composition 'Sisyphos', and in particular in the lead vocal style we get in the early phases of the song, before this creation segues over to a more playful and elegant jazzrock expression that concludes this album on a much lighter and accessible note. The challenging nature of this production will probably see to it that this album will have a bit more of a niche appeal. The landscapes explored here demand a lot of attention, and you need to have a natural interest in taking in challenging arrangements where a lot is going on, if not at all times then at least at regular intervals. Those who enjoy getting to know all the details of an album intimately can be guaranteed many hours of enjoyment from this production before you manage to wrap your brain around all the impulses here, and the mix and production is of the quality required to allow all the details to be at hand when listening too. This is alo a case of an album that is very much rewarding of course, while it does take a bit of effort to get to know this album at a closer level it will always reward you with additional nuances that elevates the listener experience too.
Conclusion. Seven Impale is a band that I generally find to be among the best progressive rock bands we have in Norway, and they do not disappoint with this most recent album in that regard either. This is a feast for the mind, a demanding and challenging tour de force of complex music that celebrates the progressive aspect of progressive rock. A complex, daring and joyful ride in progressive rock landscapes of an inclusive and distinctly expressive nature. And an album that should be on the list of albums to inspect by those who prefer their progressive rock to be demanding, challenging and, well, progressive on all levels.
Progmessor: May 2023
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