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(78:18, Progressive Promotion Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Possible Delayed 0:39 2. Porn 8:50 3. Still Searching 9:55 4. Inferior 7:03 5. Imprisoned 9:08 6. Bound in Chains 8:53 7. Last Lullaby 9:01 8. Set in Motion 8:39 9. Ordinary Maniac 16:10 LINEUP: Marek Arnold – keyboards; saxophone, flute Martin Schnella – basses, guitars; vocals Ulf Reinhardt – drums; b/vox Anne Trautmann – vocals Lars Kohler – vocals With: Steve Unruh – violin Daniel Mash – basses Antonio Vittozzi – guitars Luca Di Gennaro – keyboards &: Nine more singers
Prolusion. The German band SEVEN STEPS TO THE GREEN DOOR first appeared as recording artists in 2006, earning themselves some accolades and awards in their local music scene for their initial production. Since then they have released new albums a few years apart, often made with an eclectic and inclusive take on progressive rock. "Fetish" is their fourth studio recording, released by Progressive Promotion Records in 2015.
Analysis. Seven Steps To The Green Door has a reputation for being something of an eclectic band, and while they took a slight step away from that approach on their previous album "The ? Book", they return to form again on "Fetish", and in the process they have created what is arguably their best album to date. With numerous guest musicians adding their talents to a band not lacking in that department, the end result is most impressive indeed, and yet also fairly difficult to describe in an accurate manner. The opening piece Possibly Delayed demonstrates the band's great skill in the use of vocal harmonies quite stunningly in less than 40 seconds, an a-capella prolog that is as impressive as it is brief. From then on the compositions are long, though, and structurally complex, demanding and challenging constructions if regarded merely in that context, yet also hauntingly and stunningly easy to listen to. The manner in which the songs so easily flow between the different directions and styles explored is most impressive, and the sheer diversity within the individual compositions is almost mesmerizing in itself. On a track like Porn we have a recurring quirky instrumental motif that will sound familiar to anyone who know their Gentle Giant in general and their album “Free Hand” in particular, paired off with complex and not so complex jazz rock, easygoing melodic rock, as well as edgier displays bordering on progressive metal, all seamlessly woven together in an impressive entity that develops, moves and shifts from one direction to the next and back again in a most impressive manner. The aforementioned Gentle Giant also gets a nod on the following composition, Still Searching, this time with a vocal interlude that gave me a distinct association to Gentle Giant’s song ‘Knots’. This interlude inserted at the halfway point of a song that combines being a gentle ballad and a careful jazz rock-tinged excursion with passages that have an edgier, funk-oriented firm expression and occasional lapses into a more majestic guitar- and keyboards-driven landscape. As the rest of the CD unfolds, the compositions can more often than not be described in a similar manner, apart from the nods in the direction of Gentle Giant that is. Easygoing melody and harmony-based sequences are paired off with funk-tinged passages, mainly due to a booming bass used in key sequences, with majestic and harder edged guitar and organ combinations, layered keyboards-driven symphonic passages and powerful runs with more of a progressive metal-tinged expression the dominating traits. Strong lead vocals and well made vocal arrangements are key features, alongside well made and performed instrumental runs that never feel too long and shy away from being repetitive, as well as feeling too technical. With so much going on and the sheer diversity at hand, this is a CD that will have to be played multiple times before the individual songs will manage to stick. Not due to lacking in memorable moments or sequences, but due to the compositions generally featuring too many them.
Conclusion. Seven Steps To The Green Door has crafted a magnificent album with "Fetish", it's as easy as that. The sheer diversity of this album will perhaps alienate some, but the generally easy-flowing compositions are easier on the ears than you would imagine from a band incorporating such a great diversity into their material. And a top quality mix and production also ensure that these fairly challenging compositions are easy to enjoy. An eclectic recording well worth inspecting, and on my personal shortlist as a strong contender for album of the year for 2015.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: August 8, 2015
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