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(46:15, MALS Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. City of Sun 8:43 2. Ascension 5:17 3. In the Cave 6:27 4. Old Woman's Story 17:16 5. Disappearance 8:32 LINEUP: Sergey Starosotsky – vocals Alexander Eletsky – keyboards Oleg Grinevich – guitars, bass Alexander Sofiks – drums
Prolusion. Hailing from Belarus, 7 OCEAN started out back in the late ’80s and recorded a handful of albums before disbanding following the passing of original drummer Igor Mihasev. The band revived again in 2004 and has released new albums at regular intervals ever since. "Son of Sun" is the third full-length album to be officially issued by the band since their return, and was released through the Russian label MALS Records in 2016.
Analysis. If I understand the history of this band correctly, this album is in fact one they originally recorded back in 1990, which now has been remade in part or in full. So while the recordings may be of a more recent date, the compositions as such are in fact a quarter of a century old by now. And with that in mind I'll have to say that this is material that has stood the test of time rather well. The opening track of the album settles out in a pleasant, easygoing vintage symphonic progressive rock manner, a creation of the kind that invites to associations towards the likes of Camel in terms of general sound, with various instrumental and arrangement choices that should sound familiar to those with an interest in the more easily accessible progressive rock made by artists such as Yes and Genesis. But following this initial pleasantly charming opening, this is a production that has a change of character and personality. The instrumental piece Ascension kind of sets the mode for what is to follow, using some careful psychedelic guitar effects to flavor a darker and colder type of atmosphere, literally ascending the album to another plane of existence, by way of a sound and approach that, I imagine, should feel familiar to those who know their way around late ’70s Eloy. In the Cave then settles the expression of the band rather firmly inside late ’70s Pink Floyd as the foundation for style, mood and atmosphere in general. On that particular song, which is a calmer, ballad-oriented affair, lightly flavored with some elegant plucked guitar runs with something of a jazz-rock approach, on the following epic-length centerpiece Old Woman's Story a firmer, but often more minimalist take. on the Floydian sound is expanded by way of vintage galloping blues-based hard rock interludes and spirited, driving jazz-rock sequences with perhaps a touch of Camel added to the mix as well, while the concluding track Disappearance hones in closer to the core late ’70s Floydian atmospheres again with a select few subtle dips into AOR and vintage hard rock territories thrown in for good measure. The Russian language may be a detrimental factor for some, especially as this is a conceptual creation, based on Par Lagerkvist's novel "Sibylla". But for those who tend to listen to the vocals as an instrument rather than as a provider of words alone, the talk-like yet compelling voice of Starosotsky should manage to find favor among most listeners.
Conclusion. Accessible, melodic progressive rock with a strong vintage orientation is what 7 Ocean provides us with on their new release "Son of Sun". And while the compositions may well have been crafted some time back in the day, they have stood the test of time rather well, as far as I can tell. An album that merits a check by those who know and love progressive rock as it was explored in the mid to late ’70s by bands such as Camel and Genesis.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: May 14, 2016
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