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Telergy - 2020 - "Black Swallow"

(70:59; Telergy)


1. Georgia 12:27
2. Scene 1 1:32
3. Chased Pt. 1 2:53
4. Scene 2 0:59)
5. Infantry 9:24
6. Scene 3 0:35
7. Take to the Sky 10:14
8. Scene 4 0:43
9. Marcelle 3:13
10. Scene 5 0:36
11. Le Grand Duc 4:12
12. Scene 6 0:52
13. Spy 6:14
14. Scene 7 1:01
15. All Blood Runs Red 7:39
16. Scene 8 0:51
17. Chased Pt. 2 3:03
18. Scene 9 0:48
19. Honor 3:43


Robert McClung - guitars, bass, violin, viola, mandolin, piano, organ, keyboards, flute, percussion, vocals
...more than 50 guest musicians and vocalists

Prolusion. US project TELERGY is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Robert McClung, and from 2011 and onward he has crafted and released a succession of thematic albums incorporating the idioms of progressive rock and progressive metal while at the same time highlighting historical periods or persons he feels should be better known. The fourth Telergy album "Black Swallow" was released earlier this year, where the story told is of the aviation pioneer and war hero Eugene Bullard.

Analysis. While I cannot recall the exact music explored on the previous three Telergy albums, it is rather crystal clear that as far as this fourth album is concerned, progressive metal is the genre of choice this time around. Not because this is a purebred progressive metal production, but because it is the defining and dominant sound and style of this album. Somewhat unusual for a conceptual and thematic production, especially one that deals with a biographical story, it is also mainly an instrumental one. As on previous Telergy album the majority of the lyrics at hand are presented in theatrical scenes in between the music. One of the weaker aspects of Telergy has been the aforementioned theatrical scenes, but this time around they work a lot better. mainly due to most of them being spoken monologues, and well executed ones at that. Some minor annoying aspects remain, first and foremost for me that certain sections paced in France are "Frenchified" by way of accented English. While one of them is needed, a second one tucked in at the start of a song probably would have been better in French, at least in my opinion. But this is a very minor complaint for an otherwise really solid production. Progressive metal is the name of the game here, but this CD actually opens with a bit of delta blues, transforming into two different energetic progressive metal runs with some blues details retained and then glides into gospel territories before concluding with the delta blues that opened the song. Along the way we are treated to some really well made orchestral motifs as well, with strings as well as brass, as well as a transition that has a lot of Deep Purple to it's core sound. It is the sole instance of this kind of style blending on this album, but it also indicates a lot of what is to follow: That this is an album that doesn't stick to genre conventions all that much. Hence we get compositions that ebb and flow, hits powerful power metal fueled excursions, slides over to jazzier territories on occasion, settles in cinematic landscapes and sets a foot inside orchestral score music along the way too. I also note that elements of industrial rock can be found here and there, and that McClung boldly strides into a longer section of symphonic black metal along the way too. This is also one of the few and perhaps the only album I've heard that also finds a natural manner in which to incorporate a full slice of swing jazz 1930's style into this kind of production. Or at least a composition that feature many trademark sounds of jazz from that era, while the overall sound of it may well be a bit more fleshed out than what was common 80 odd years ago. It's still a most charming step out far to the left, and one of the highlights of the album, even if the spoken opening of it is one that I do find borderline annoying. This is quite the impressive production on most levels, and that the end result sounds so cohesive considering that almost 60 musicians were involved in the creation of this massive project perhaps the most impressive aspect of it all. A really well made album, with sparks of true brilliance to be found throughout.

Conclusion. Fans of instrumental progressive metal will find themselves a real treat of an album with Telergy's latest effort "Black Swallow". While I have my thoughts on why the subject matter of this album is explored at this point in time, and those are positive thoughts too I should add, I'll leave that part of it for others to conclude for themselves. Musically this is a solid venture from start to finish though; creative, expressive and not adhering all that much to genre conventions. A certain fondness for dramatic orchestral overlays and brass elements will be needed to be able to enjoy this album, but other than that this is a CD I find easy to recommend to just about anyone that tends to enjoy instrumental progressive metal. From my point of view at least this is the most solid album by Telergy to date.

Progmessor: December 2020
The Rating Room

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