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(78:20, Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Everlasting Fanfare-1 4:25 2. Still Believe 10:27 3. Psalm 51 3:54 4. Disclosure 2:57 5. Fall to My Knees 5:15 6. Expressions 5:09 7. Loving Embrace 6:46 8. Grail 9:05 9. In Your Hands 6:03 10. Gossamer Strings 3:24 11. You Reached Down 6:17 12. At Play in the Fields 5:46 13. Perfect Grace 4:11 14. Everlasting Fanfare-2 5:01 LINEUP: John Eargle guitars, bass; keyboards, loops; vocals Rob Price vocals; drums, percussion Dan Pomeroy guitars; tin whistle With: Randy George bass Brad Bibbs violin Tony Narvarte keyboards (1, 3, 5, 8, 11, 12) Mike Musal percussion (10, 14) Roine Stolt guitars (8)
Prolusion. The US trio SUPERNAL ENDGAME was formed, at least as a concept, by veteran musicians John Eargle and Rob Price around 2000, and up until 2009 the two steadily developed and evolved their musical and lyrical thoughts towards what eventually ended up as a double CD. The first of these was finished in 2009, and this first effort convinced Progrock Records to sign this act. "Touch the Sky - Volume 1" was officially released in early 2010, with a second CD to be released in the foreseeable future.
Analysis. One of the best descriptions of this discs contents comes courtesy of the band itself, which describes the initial effort in this manner: "Merging hook-laden symphonic prog with artsy pop and pomp rock". What this description to some extent avoids is the fact that most of these creations are either one or the other of course. These styles aren't blended equally on all the tracks; instead Supernal Endgame opts for exploring each style variation more or less separately. This gives us an album that is almost equally divided between symphonic progressive rock, pomp rock and more distinctly AOR-dominated ventures. Personally I find the symphonic-dominated excursions to be most interesting, with second track Still Believe as arguably the best of those. With Yes and Kansas as the main musical references, the band provides easy-going, free-flowing compositions. Alterations in pace, melody and dominant themes occur pretty frequently, but never to the point of being truly complex. As far as this type of music goes, Supernal Endgame prefers to venture into listener-friendly waters to a much greater extent than the challenging and difficult ones, at least on this occasion. As far as the AOR and pomp rock tracks go, which make up about 50 minutes of playtime on this album, GTR seems to be a good musical reference for these efforts: Especially due to the solo guitar, which in many numbers seems to take major inspiration from Steve Howe, if not in style then very much so in sound, tone and texture. The lead vocals also share similarities with that 80s supergroup, while the stylistic similarities are blatant. The band does add a few folk-inspired touches to their tracks, resulting in constructions lightly spiced with musical flavors evocative of the aforementioned US act Kansas. One aspect of this band that might have an impact on their target audience to some extent, though, is its religious beliefs. Melodic, well-produced and well-crafted compositions will draw many to this act, but their distinctly Christian lyrics might limit its appeal somewhat. When thinking about a suitable description for the topics covered on this disc, I concluded that "worship" was the best one. While the musical foundation arguably might be a tad awkward for a church sermon, there's no doubt that the words would both intrigue and inspire a contemporary congregation in as good as any house of God.
Conclusion. "Touch the Sky Volume I" is a very well-produced effort, showcasing a band with two distinctly different sides to its musical exploits, namely symphonic progressive rock and sophisticated Adult Oriented Rock; the former of a lighter variety as far as complexity goes, while the latter is frequently closing in on a more pompous, progressively-inclined variety. Well-made and well-performed, this should be a nice acquisition for those who have a soft spot for the styles explored, and in particular for devout Christians who enjoy this kind of music.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: July 14, 2010
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