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(61:05; This Winter Machine)
I’m not sure where I first saw information on this album, but it would have been one of the groups I am a member of on Facebook, and I was immediately taken in by the artwork. So much so that when I was offered it for review I jumped at the opportunity, as if this much work had gone into the cover, I was intrigued to hear what the music sounded like. It was some time after this that I was contacted by singer Al Winter who asked if I would add it to my list, and over the course of various messages I became even more interested. Of course there is always the danger of being somewhat disappointed, and I have been caught out more than once in the past, and undoubtedly I will again in the future but anyone who sends me material knows there is a risk that I really won’t like it and I always say what I think. I am incredibly happy to say that is not the case here, and I am now bouncing around to as fine a slab of neo prog that you are every like to come across. The band comprises Al and Mark Numan (keyboards, backing vocals), Graham Garbett (guitars, backing vocals), Scott Owens (guitars, backing vocals), Andy Milner (drums) and Pete Priestley (bass, bass pedals). I was dragged happily into the music with opener “Herald”, which not only is nearly nine minutes long but is also an instrumental! Now, those who read the line-up will have noticed that there are two guitarists, which is somewhat unusual for progressive rock bands – the only one which immediately springs to mind which also didn’t go into a heavier direction would be Final Conflict – yet often the main instrument are the keyboards. Indeed, next up is “Flying” where Al and Mark show they are quite happy to play by themselves and not bother the rest of the guys. So, two songs in, with two very different approaches with the only similarity being that I was incredibly engaged. They have taken a huge mix of influences, and then brought them all in together to create a neo prog melange which is fascinating. It would be very easy to say there are obvious elements of early Pallas and Marillion, combined with some Pendragon, Galahad and Grey Lady Down, but instead I should just say this is an album I enjoyed the very first time I played it, and it has grown on me even more since then. 25 years out of time, this is bombastic prog which also has elements which remind me of old-style Magnum, and just makes me smile. The guys demonstrate real confidence on this album, and it is definitely one to investigate.
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